Last week saw all political parties in Scotland adopt the formal definition of “Islamophobia”,
They have joined many other organisations and political groups in supporting this initiative.
In this article, we’ll look at the views from various people’s perspectives, from the people behind it, and those that support it, to those that have concerns and oppose it including a Christian, an ex-counter terrorism police chief and a leading Muslim cleric.
So far, the definition has been adopted by the UK Labour Party, the UK Liberal Democrats, the SNP Westminster Group, Plaid Cymru and several English local authorities – as well as many organisations including the Muslim Council of Britain and last month, it was also adopted in London City Hall by Mayor Sadiq Khan.
But so far the Conservatives have not facilitated it.
Anas Sarwar, a Glasgow Labour MSP has lead the Scottish campaign calling for Islamophobia to be treated as a form of racism.
Mr Sarwar, who chairs Holyrood’s Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Tackling Islamophobia, said: “The issues of prejudice and hate go beyond party politics,
“The challenge we had in Scotland two years ago was trying to get people to believe that Islamophobia existed in Scotland”.
Now it might be worth pointing out at this point Mr Sarwar has recently been embroiled in a race row where he accused a councillor of racially abusing him, but these claims were unsubstantiated,
Mr Sarwar added;
“I think we won that argument. It’s sad we had to have it but we won that argument”.
“The second phase is now to define what Islamophobia is and how it manifests itself”.
“If we can get to a position where the UK Government is, to be kind, dithering on adopting the definition of Islamophobia but we get adoption from the Scottish Government, that’s a sign of leadership,” the Labour MSP said.
Mr Sarwar has joined forces with Westminster’s APPG (All-Party parliamentary group) on British Muslims looking to stop the spread of anti-muslim hate.
They have agreed with a list of examples devised by the APPG definition of Islamophobia.
But firstly let’s have a look into some of the people who sat on this All-Party parliamentary group.
- First up is Mp Naz Shar someone who was suspended from the Labour party for antisemitic remarks on social media.
- Then we have Miqdaad versi, who has worked with the Muslim Council of Britain previously he has been known to distort the facts when it suits his agenda;
- Then we have the one and only MP Anna Soubrey…yes I know, no need to say anymore.
- Then we have the one and only MP Anna Soubrey…yes I know, no need to say anymore.
Ok, we’ll come back to the others after we’ve let you read below where it states the examples of Islamophobia that are deemed as unacceptable:
– Calling for, aiding, instigating or justifying the killing or harming of Muslims in the name of a racist/fascist ideology, or an extremist view of religion.
– Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Muslims as such, or of Muslims as a collective group, such as, especially but not exclusively, conspiracies about Muslim entryism in politics, government or other societal institutions; the myth of Muslim identity having a unique propensity for terrorism and claims of a demographic ‘threat’ posed by Muslims or of a ‘Muslim takeover’.
-Accusing Muslims as a group of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Muslim person or group of Muslim individuals, or even for acts committed by non-Muslims.
– Accusing Muslims as a group, or Muslim majority states, of inventing or exaggerating Islamophobia, ethnic cleansing or genocide perpetrated against Muslims.
– Accusing Muslim citizens of being more loyal to the ‘Ummah’ (transnational Muslim community) or to their countries of origin, or to the alleged priorities of Muslims worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
– Denying Muslim populations, the right to self-determination e.g., by claiming that the existence of an independent Palestine or Kashmir is a terrorist endeavour.
– Applying double standards by requiring of Muslims behaviours that are not expected or demanded of any other groups in society, eg loyalty tests.
– Using the symbols and images associated with classic Islamophobia e.g. Muhammed being a paedophile, claims of Muslims spreading Islam by the sword or subjugating minority groups under their rule
– Holding Muslims collectively responsible for the actions of any Muslim majority state, whether secular or constitutionally Islamic.
Afzal Khan is next up, and is also a controversial member of the APPG, who has also got a history of antisemitic remarks,
- Then we have Baroness Warsi who was found to have breached House of Lords rules by failing to register her second home properly.
- But last and by no means least is the disgraced Lord, Nazir Ahmed, who has not only got history of anti-semitism,
- But he’s also been charged with attempted child rape as well.
More than 750 British Muslim organisations, 80 academics and 50 MPs have backed the definition.
Naz Shah, the Labour MP for Bradford West and a shadow minister for women and equalities, said all political parties should adopt the definition.
“This could not be more urgent, while Islamophobia has been rising in our society and across the world, and support for the far right and their extremist white supremacist views is growing,”
“Instead of challenging and campaigning against this hate-filled prejudice, many politicians have actively fuelled it, from the Conservatives’ overtly Islamophobic campaign against Sadiq Khan becoming mayor in 2016 to Boris Johnson’s vile comments about Muslim women”.
SNP’s Ms Sturgeon said: “All organisations should sign up to the accepted definition of Islamophobia, as they should sign up to the accepted definition of antisemitism.”
Not sure if your last comment will go down to well Ms Sturgeon!
But not everyone is so keen on this new initiative,
Richard Walton is one one of them;
Mr Walton said, “Every so often, it is worth noting the current threat level to the UK from terrorist attacks, which only hits the headlines when it is revised up or down”. “Right now, it stands at “severe”. This means that the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and the Security Service, MI5, think a terrorist attack is “highly likely”. Hidden away from most of us, thousands of public servants work day and night to stop these highly likely attacks and to frustrate those who seek bloodshed on our streets and as the Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter-Terrorism Command from 2011-2016, I led a significant part of this work – and saw close up the men and women engaged in it,
the costs and the sheer hard work that goes into keeping the public safe from terrorist violence. It’s an impressive national effort. But what worries me now is that the police, the intelligence agencies and Ministers could soon have their hands tied if the Government chooses officially to adopt a cross-party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia”.
“This asserts that “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”. It is my firm view that this deeply flawed definition – which wrongly conflates the religion of Islam with a racial group – could over time cripple the UK’s successful counter-terrorism strategy and counter-terrorism operations”.
“And this warning is at the heart of a research paper that I have co-authored for Policy Exchange, published today”.
“Adopting the definition would hand the initiative to those who have been trying to dismantle the Government’s Countering Violent Extremism programme for years”;
“it is no surprise to see many of those same campaigners and radical groups have been closely involved in the APPG’s work in developing the definition” (as authors or sources)
The ex-counter terrorism chief went on to say, “As my report sets out today, there are two kinds of legal challenges that we would see if the definition was made official – and which could hamper counter-terrorism efforts. The first would be Judicial Review of operational decisions by police officers, their counterparts in other agencies and by Ministers dealing with terrorism threats. The second would be challenges under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the right not to be discriminated against by public authorities. And just think: how could the police or anyone else disprove that they had targeted an expression of “perceived Muslimness”?
“The definition would also severely hamper efforts to stop and search extremists travelling through ports. The success of the UK’s counter-terrorism model relies on legislative powers designed to disrupt terrorist activities. Schedule 7 and Section 47A of the Terrorism Act 2000 and Schedule 3 of the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 give police important powers to stop and search people travelling through ports and after terrorist incidents. They couldn’t be more important, given the context of British ISIS fighters trying to return from Syria”.
“If the Government accepts the APPG definition of Islamophobia, all of these powers are more likely to be challenged by anti-Prevent campaigners and their supporters who would seek to label police officers ‘Islamophobic’ (and, therefore, racist). There would likely be an increase in formal complaints against officers, leading to futile investigations and potentially unfair judgements by the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC). This, in turn, could lead to the powers subsequently falling into disrepute with officers, who would be discouraged from using them. Thus, the UK would be made less safe”.
It is institutions as well as individual officers or ministers who could be in the line of fire. Whole government departments, the entire police service, intelligence agencies, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), judiciary and HM Prison and Probation Service could be branded and labelled “institutionally Islamophobic” by anti-Prevent campaign groups. It would be an allegation that would be impossible to refute, owing to the indistinct and imprecise nature of the APPG definition.
A range of other counter-terrorism measures would be undermined. The APPG definition would thwart the prosecution of individuals for possession of extremist material and dissemination of terrorist publications; even prosecution for membership of (and encouragement of support for) proscribed terrorist groups. Imagine how Anjem Choudary might have used the label “Islamophobic” in his defence.
The Prevent strategy would also suffer, weakening the ability of the country to divert individuals away from all forms of extremism and terrorism, including Islamist and Far Right terrorism. And the definition would have a major detrimental impact on the UK’s ability to keep communities safe, including keeping Muslim communities safe from far-right terrorism, and intra-Muslim sectarian attacks”.
Today’s report features a Foreword by Lord Carlile, the UK’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation from 2001 to 2011. He is in agreement on the legal problems the Islamophobia definition could throw up.
As his Foreword states:
“Ministers should heed his words and not support those who seek to impose this all-encompassing definition on the Government and country. It would overturn the approach of governments of all parties over the last two decades who have grappled with how to deal with a growing extremist and terrorist threat. Ministers are understandably under pressure to be seen to act on Anti-Muslim prejudice. They should avoid the trap of adopting the off-the-shelf definition offered by groups who have an agenda of their own.
We must tackle all hate crimes and be alive to an increase these crimes against Muslims but adoption of this definition would actually make achieving this more difficult. Instead, I recommend that the Extremism Commission examine the issue as part of its national consultation, leading to a code of practice”.
Another person to speak out against the Islamaphobia definition is the senior member of the world’s biggest Muslim organisation, Yahya Cholil Staquf;
He has insisted that Islamophobia is not rooted in racism and that the distrust of Muslims in many countries is a result of Islamist extremism and terrorism throughout the world.
Mr Staquf is the secretary-general of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama movement, which claims to have more than 90 million adherents, wrote in an article in Britain’s Daily Telegraph saying that the traditional Muslim mindset needed to change.
He called for a rejection of Islamic orthodoxy, condemning it as “obsolete and problematic” and “fuelling violence on both sides”.
The influential cleric wrote that the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims was “factually incorrect” in linking the definition of the word “Islamophobia” to racism and that it was “counter-productive” to do so.
“The truth, we recognise, is that jihadist doctrine, goals and strategy can be traced to specific tenets of orthodox, authoritative Islam and its historic practice. This includes those portions of sharia that promote Islamic supremacy, encourage enmity towards non-Muslims and require the establishment of a caliphate. It is these elements – still taught by most Sunni and Shiite institutions – that constitute a summons to perpetual conflict,” he wrote.
Staquf stated that Brenton Tarrant’s murder spree, which killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 15 March, was part of an “ancient cycle of violence” and that the killer shared a “historical framework” with many Muslims that went back almost 1,400 years. He explained the traditional Islamic teaching that “Muslims and non-Muslims are and shall remain in a state of permanent conflict, until the end of time (according to Islamists) or the disappearance of Islam (according to advocates of a ‘counter-jihad’).”
“If Muslims do not address the key tenets of Islamic tradition that encourage this violence, anyone – at any time – can harness them to defy what they claim to be illegitimate laws and butcher their fellow citizens,
whether they live in the Islamic world or the West. This is what links so many current events, from Syria to the streets of London,”
Finally, we asked one of our followers who is a practising Christian, on his take of it all.
“When I was asked for my views on the definition of Islamophobia that had recently been adopted by Scotland I had to take a step back and seriously consider what my reply should be?”.
“I read through some of the definitions of the law and found myself puzzled. They are kind of Islamophobic themselves and a bit blasphemous. Whoever thought this through must have drifted in and out of their writing as it makes no sense whatsoever”.
“Before I continue though, I must point out the importance of free speech and critical thought”.
“Free speech is one of the most vital elements of mankind’s development. You name me one philosophical or scientific advance that did not involve free speech. Name me one religious or artistic development that did not include free speech”.
“You can’t, no one can”.
“Mankind has developed because of free speech, man’s evolution in thinking has been because of free speech”.
“The greatest freedom any man has is to think and speak for himself. Free Speech”.
“Yes, free speech includes the right to be critical of religion. Maybe not insulting, but definitely critical”.
“Being critical of religion means religion itself advances. I doubt anyone nowadays would be set the task of having to collect 200 Philistine foreskins”.
“Samuel 18:27: “David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage”
“I understand now why Jesus thought it was time for a change”.
“Jesus himself was highly critical of religion. If you read the Bible I think many atheists would agree with his views. Does this make Jesus Anti-semitic? Of course not”.
‘Religion itself can be horrible at times. Look at the church for example. Galil Galileo was considered to be a madman, a heretic. He was threatened with death and placed under house arrest”.
“Yet today he is considered the father between philosophy and modern science”.
“For me, criticism of religion is nothing to be scared of, it forces us to focus on our faith, to learn, to find answers. If I am serious about my religion, why would I avoid the chance to face your criticism and understand deeper”?
“Actually, if I am serious in my belief in God, then I am sure if you call him a bastard he is quite big enough and powerful enough to sort you out himself. He does need me to be shouting Blasphemy and putting you to death”.
“It does not work like that. I think this way because others in the past have been critical and wrote about Christianity. I thank them for their work, they have honed my belief in God”.
“See, criticism is important”.
“So the latest thing about defining” “Islamophobia”.
“Well, it is stupid. I will demonstrate quite clearly, just by using the first three laws, that it is not only poorly thought out, but is Blasphemy in itself”.
“Let me explain”.
“Law 1: Accusing Muslims… of inventing or exaggerating Islamophobia”.
“OK, so the fact is in today’s world Muslims are the biggest killers of Muslims. The biggest number of people fleeing from civil wars, caused by Muslims are Muslims”.
“The largest amount of gay men fleeing Muslim persecution are Muslim. The largest group of people fleeing tyrannical Muslim regimes are Muslims. In fact, Saudi Arabia recently adopted laws that state Atheism is an act of terrorism. So we can clearly see that with all that going on the biggest sufferers of “Islamophobia” are Muslims themselves. Exaggeration? Surely we should not have refugees or asylum seekers. Surely they are exaggerating their fear of Islamic civil war”?
“For non-believers to call Muslims liars is surely an act of Islamophobia”?
“Law 1, therefore, destroys itself”.
“Law 2: Accusing Muslim citizens of being more loyal to the ‘Ummah’ (transnational Muslim community) or to their countries of origin, or to the alleged priorities of Muslims worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations”.
“Well, this is just ignorance in itself. In Arabic Ummah means community. Essentially the Muslim community. The Arabic word for nation is Sha’b. Sha’b is a country with people who share a common ancestry or geography”.
“So should a Muslim put his Muslim community second to a country that is not Islamic”?
“Well no: It was narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say, “Do not keep company with anyone but a believer and do not let anyone eat your food but one who is pious.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2395; Abu Dawood, 4832. Abu ‘Eesa al-Tirmidhi said: this hadith is Hasan. (Hasan in Arabic can also mean good, pure) It was also classed as Hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 2519)”.
“O you who believe! Take not as friends the people who incurred the Wrath of Allah Surely, they have despaired of (receiving any good in) the Hereafter, just as the disbelievers have despaired of those (buried) in graves (that they will not be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection)”
“So should you be more loyal to non-Muslims than Muslims”?
“The answer is above”.
“So law 2 is denying the Koran is telling the truth. This in itself can be considered Blasphemy”.
“Law 2 has committed Blasphemy”.
“3: Denying Muslim populations the right to self-determination e.g., by claiming that the existence of an independent Palestine or Kashmir is a terrorist endeavour”.
“I do not know anyone who says a Palestinian state is a terrorist endeavour. (I do, but want to surprise you) However again the ignorance of those drawing this up is in plain sight. It may come as a shock but the Koran does not mention Palestine. It does not mention Jerusalem. Yet here we have this claim about Palestine”.
“Personally, I believe in a two-state solution, but what do I know, the Arabs rejected this”.
“The Koran specifically says that Israel belongs to the Jews. Not Muslims, but the Jews”.
“There is a consensus of interpretation among the most respected Sunni and Shiite Muslim scholars of past centuries, such as Al-Tabari, Al-Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Abi Zayd, Mahmud al-Alusi, Al-Baghawi, that, according to the Koran, Allah gave to the Jews the land from the Nile to the Euphrates, territory that includes not only Jerusalem and Palestine, but a large part of Egypt and Iraq, and all of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon”.
“So according to the Koran, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, parts of Egypt and Iraq belong to Israel”.
“Now if atheism is a terrorist activity that goes against Allah’s will then surely trying to steal that which Allah gave to the Jews is also terrorism”?
“You will find very clearly, ” “says Sheikh Dr Muhammad Al-Husseini”, “that the traditional commentators from the eighth and ninth century onwards have uniformly interpreted the Koran to say explicitly that Eretz Yisrael has been given by Allah to the Jewish people as a perpetual covenant. There is no Islamic counterclaim to the Land anywhere in the traditional corpus of commentary.”
“Al-Tabari, Dr Al-Husseni says, is” “our Rashi”, the founder of tafsir, “the science of exegesis” — the Arabic word is similar to pesher, Hebrew for interpretation. “One of the key rules of Islamic exegesis by which Islamic scholarship is bound is that the authority to interpret lies in the hands of the Prophet and of the Prophets’ Companions alone,” he says, “Nobody can go to the text and just freely interpret the text for their own purposes. This is really important… because if the Prophet, or one of his Companions, has given an interpretation, then we are bound by it.”
“So here there is no room for interpretation”.
“Again, Law 3 defeats itself. It again states that the Koran is wrong and Muslims can take land which Allah gave to someone else. What is the punishment for theft in Islam”?
“Surely, saying people can steal from Allah is against what Allah teaches and thus Blasphemy”?
‘The truth of the matter is I can using Islam itself, destroy the stupidity of the newly adopted code of Islamophobia in Scotland. It is nonsensical, unhinged cat poster philosophy, or as the Scottish themselves would say”, “Pish!”
And finally to sum up, a view from me.
Speaking as an English man and an atheist, i fear this new definition of Islamophobia will be hijacked by those who we are trying to defeat, namely the Islamists the fundamentalists the people who have no wish to integrate and just want to cause division and bring terror to our streets and push their warped ideology, but while I’ll agree that racism is a problem in our society and there are people who hate all Muslims and do persecute against them just like people from the the Jewish faith are, i can see this just creating a bigger divide,
Education is the way forward, not an attack on freedom of speech, yes clearly freedom of speech is not singing “Allah is a peado” and antagonising a group of Muslims or calling someone a peado because they’re Muslim or saying all Muslims are terrorists that is just hate speech imo and bigoted,
I believe this new directive is another attack on our values and freedom of expression and is very blurred and is open to being abused,
when a leading Muslim cleric speaks out about it being counter productive and a counter terrorism chief has grave concerns for our security and i see what some of the people behind it are like and their own bigoted views on jews it doesn’t feel me with much confidence as i question their agenda,
But I guess only time we will tell.