What is Islamophobia?

Islamophobia is defined as: a prejudice, aversion, hostility, or hatred towards Muslims and encompasses any distinction, exclusion, restriction, discrimination, or preference against Muslims that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

Islamophobia not only refers to a category of hate crime, but pertains to barriers that Muslims face across all areas of public life. This includes, but is not limited to: discrimination at work, such as the failure to be promoted based on achievement; marginalisation from political positions; demonisation based on negative stereotypes within media discourse; and public policies that discriminate against Muslims based on their religious identity.

 

What is Islamophobia Awareness Month?

Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM) was co-founded by MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development) with other British organisations in 2012 to deconstruct and challenge the stereotypes about Islam and Muslims. The campaign, held every November, aims to work with Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC), local councils, journalists, local media outlets, councilors, local MPs, mosques, universities, schools, community organisations and others to raise awareness of the threat of Islamophobia and encourage better reporting of incidents to the police.

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Why is IAM important?

IAM raises awareness within society of how Muslims are discriminated against in various spheres, along with providing information on the positive contributions of British Muslims to the UK. It helps break down barriers and challenge incorrect stereotypes people may hold about Muslims, as well as providing an avenue for people of other backgrounds to engage with Muslims. IAM also highlights why it is crucial for Muslims to report Islamophobic hate crimes to authorities, for accurate data to be collected and for policy changes to be enacted accordingly.

Islamophobia by Numbers

143,920

Between March 2016-March 2017, 143,920 Tweets were sent from the UK that are considered to be derogatory and anti-Islamic – this amounts to 393 a day.

300

NSPCC has reported an increase in helpline calls relating to racial and religious bullying or hate crimes in Manchester and London. In the two weeks following the Manchester Arena attack in May, Childline held nearly 300 counselling sessions across the UK, whilst the number of calls after the Westminster attack in March almost doubled to 128.

1,665

The Metropolitan Police Service recorded 1,665 Islamophobic offences in 2017/18.

21

Studies have demonstrated that there are 21 negative references to Muslims within British media output for every single neutral or positive reference.

50%

50% of women wearing the hijab feel that they have missed out on progression opportunities because of religious discrimination and that the wearing of the hijab had been a factor.

Manifestations of Islamophobia in different spheres include:

Islamophobia is a systemic problem that manifests itself across society in various ways, at times clearly noticeable and at other times more subtly, resulting in the exclusion of Muslims from fully enjoying their freedoms, rights and opportunities as equal citizens.

Some forms of manifestation of this Islamophobia include but are not limited to:

Education

  • Muslim children regularly encountering Islamophobia in the playground, with some being called “terrorists” and being told to “go back to your country”. [8]
  • Childline in 2015/16 providing 981 counselling sessions because of racist/faith-related bullying. [9]
  • Following the Manchester Arena attack in 2017, Childline providing 300 sessions solely because of religiously-motivated bullying. [10]
  • The UK’s counter-terror apparatus, PREVENT, being used to inappropriately flag students for their views, stifling legitimate discussion, and overtly targeting Muslim students. [11]

Employment

  • CVs with Muslim names being three times more likely to get rejected compared to English-sounding names despite having identical skills and experiences. [12]
  • One in eight Pakistani women being illegally asked at interview about their future plans regarding marriage and family – compared to one in thirty for White women. [13]
  • 50% of women wearing the hijab feeling that they have missed out on clear progression opportunities because of religious discrimination. [14]

Media

  • As demonstrated by studies, mainstream media using 21 negative terms when referring to Muslims for every neutral or positive term. [15]
  • Inaccurate, discriminatory and insulting headlines targeting Muslim communities being published on a regular basis with no adequate sanction against or deterrent for newspapers.
  • As noted by Demos, thousands of Islamophobic tweets being sent out every single day unhindered by inadequate legislation covering Islamophobia on social media platforms. [16]

Hate crime

  • Mosques and Muslim community centres being regularly vandalised, set on fire and targeted with bomb threats.
  • Individuals being deliberately targeted with grotesque violence because of their faith, with more than 8,000 religiously-motivated hate crimes in 2017/18. [17]
  • Nearly 2,000 Islamophobic offences occurring in London between 2017/18. [18]

Civil liberties

  • Policies being enacted which constantly frame Muslims under light of the “counter-terrorism” narrative.
  • Muslims being disproportionately stopped at airports for reasons as spurious as reading books or returning from pilgrimage [19] with the Equality and Human Rights Commission noting that it was 11.3 times more likely for an Asian to be stopped compared to their White counterpart. [20]
  • Muslim children being erroneously flagged by PREVENT and CHANNEL for reasons ranging from wrongly-interpreted t-shirts to campaigning for human rights issues. [21]
  • With 80% of Channel referrals being proved unwarranted, the UK’s counter-extremism apparatus acting to stigmatise individuals and reinforcing incorrect stereotypes. [22]

 


References:

[1] “Childline bullying report 2015/16: What children are telling us about bullying”, NSPCC, 2016. Accessed: 23rd July 2018, https://www.nspcc.org.uk/globalassets/documents/research-reports/what-children-are-telling-us-about-bullying-childline-bullying-report-2015-16.pdf.

[2] Ibid.

[3] May Bulman, “Muslim children as young as nine branded terrorists in wake of recent terror attacks, reveals Childline”, Independent, Wednesday 28 June 2017. Accessed 28 September, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/nine-year-old-children-terrorists-race-faith-hate-bullying-childline-manchester-arena-terror-attack-a7810051.html.

[4] “Preventing Education? Human Rights and UK Counter-Terrorism Policy in Schools”, Rights Watch UK. Accessed 28 September 2018, http://rwuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/preventing-education-final-to-print-3.compressed-1.pdf.

[5] Zack Adesina, “Is it easier to get a job if you’re Adam or Mohamed?”, BBC News, 6 February 2017. Accessed: 28 September 2018, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-38751307.

[6] “Forgotten Women: the impact of Islamophobia on Muslim women”, ENAR. Accessed 6 June 2017, http://www.enar-eu.org/Forgotten-Women-the-impact-of-Islamophobia-on-Muslim-women.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Paul Baker, Costas Gabrielatos, and Tony McEnery, Discourse analysis and media attitudes: the representation of Islam in the British Press (Cambridge: University Press, 2013), p2.

[9] Carl Miller and Josh Smith, “Islamophobia on Twitter”, Demos, 18 August 2016. Accessed, 28 September 2018, https://www.demos.co.uk/project/islamophobia-on-twitter/.

[10] “Hate crime, England and Wales, 2016 to 2017”, Home Office, 17 October 2017. Accessed, 28 September 2018, https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2016-to-2017.

[11] “Year end crime statistics 2017/2018”, Metropolitan Police Services. Accessed, 28 September 2018, https://www.met.police.uk/sd/stats-and-data/met/year-end-crime-statistics/.

[12] Homa Khaleeli, “The perils of ‘flying while Muslim”, The Guardian, 8 August 2016. Accessed, 28 September 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/08/the-perils-of-flying-while-muslim.

[13] “Preventing Education? Human Rights and UK Counter-Terrorism Policy in Schools”, Rights Watch UK. Accessed 28 September 2018, http://rwuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/preventing-education-final-to-print-3.compressed-1.pdf.

[14] Alan Travis, “Asian people 11 times more likely to be stopped at UK borders, analysis finds”, The Guardian, 5 December 2018. Accessed, 28 September 2018https://www.theguardian.com/law/2013/dec/05/asian-people-stopped-uk-borders-analysis.

[15] “”Five children a day” referred to Channel,” MEND, June 21, 2016, accessed April 12, 2017, http://mend.org.uk/fivechildren-day-referred-channel/.

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