LONDON: The UK government should redefine the term “Islamophobia” as “anti-Muslim racism,” according to the think-tank Runnymede Trust in a new report.
A lack of clarity around the meaning of the word is hindering efforts to design policies that could prevent the discrimination of Muslims in the UK, whether it be in the workplace or as a victim of hate crime, the report found.
“At the moment people don’t have clarity over what it is (so) it is difficult for them to tackle it and for policies to be formulated to address it in a concrete way,” said Farah Elahi, research and policy analyst at Runnymede, speaking on the BBC 4 Today programme on Nov. 14 following the publication of the report.
The recommendation formed part of a wider report, released on the 20th anniversary of Runnymede’s first paper on the subject in 1997, in which it is credited for coining the term “Islamophobia.”
The new report includes case studies on the impact of Islamophobia on individual’s lives, including a nurse who faces daily racist and Islamophobic abuse from patients and a molecular geneticist who was advised that her CV was too “Islamic” for her to get an job interview.
“This a really important and timely report, especially post-Brexit where we have seen a significant increase in anti-Muslim hostility,” Imran Awan, associate professor in criminology at Birmingham City University and author of one of the report’s chapters, told Arab News.
Following the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester earlier this year, there was a noticeable spike in hate crime and anti-Muslim attacks.
According to London’s Metropolitan Police, recorded incidents of Islamophobic crime jumped to 365 in June from 87 in April. While reported incidents dropped back to 117 in September, overall Islamophobic crime this year to September is 23.71 percent up on the previous year in London.
“I hope the report will be used by policymakers in agreeing upon a definition of Islamophobia that recognizes this as racism. It’s also important because we need to understand the drivers of hate crime and it’s impacts on communities,” Awan said.
The report also looks at the impact of Islamophobia in the workforce. The report recommends employers to adopt policies such as name-blind CVs and publishing pay gaps, to ensure Muslims are given equal opportunity to seek and gain employment.
Runnymede called for an independent inquiry into the government’s counter-terrorism strategy and questioned the effectiveness of the “Prevent” policy. It said there is “substantial evidence” that the current policy is “discriminatory, disproportionate and counterproductive.”
“Given the mounting evidence, the independent review must answer whether the Prevent strategy should be withdrawn and how to better separate the state’s security apparatus from wider safeguarding or social policy strategies,” the report said.