What is Islamaphobia?
There are several different definitions of Islamophobia, and not everyone agrees what the term means.
Defined by the oxford dictionary as:
“Dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force”
The Runnymede Trust sets out an updated definition for the term Islamophobia in 2017, defining it as:
“Islamaphobia is any distinction, exclusion, or restriction towards, or preference against, Muslims (or those perceived to be 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”.
Following recent events in the news you might have been hearing a lot about Islam and maybe the term ‘Islamophobia’ – but what does this mean?
The UK is full of people who follow lots of different faiths and religions.
Most of the time they all get along and people are free to live the way they want to.
However, some groups are targeted because of their beliefs, and because of events that people blame them for – even if this is incorrect.
Islamophobia is when Muslims are the victims of attacks just because of their religion.
It is something that worries a lot of people.
What is Islam?
Islam is a religion, and the people who follow it are called Muslims.
Almost a quarter of the world’s population are Muslims and in the UK it’s about 1 in 20 people.
Islam is the second largest religion in the UK after Christianity.
Islam is over 1,400 years old, dating back to the 7th Century.
The Islamic word for God is Allah.
The word “Islam” means submission to God’s will and obedience to God’s law.
It comes from an old Arabic word meaning “peace.”
Why are Muslims being targeted?
Some people have blamed all Muslims for recent terrorist attacks carried out by extreme groups who say they follow the religion of Islam.
But, many people say those terrorist groups have extreme beliefs of hatred and violence that have little to do with what most Muslims believe.
They say it is important not to blame a big group of people for what a small number of individuals have done.
Islamophobia can result in Muslims being targeted, whether in person or online.
They can be badly treated, insulted or even physically hurt.
Many people think Islamophobia is created when a person doesn’t properly understand what Muslims do or believe, and that the best way to combat it is to have a better understanding of Muslims and Islam.
Click the link to learn about Islam www.islamreligion.com
Consequences of Islamaphobia
Islamophobic hate crime is a growing problem. Recent statistics highlight how attacks on Muslims have seen the highest increase. Nevertheless hate crime is the just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the underlying causes which remain hidden from sight.
There is a wide range of anti-Muslim behaviour that can be described as Islamophobia, from a one-off abusive remark or name calling through to a serious physical assault. But whatever the incident, it can be really frightening to be targeted simply because you are Muslim, or because someone thinks you are. Islamaphobia can happen anywhere e.g. in person, online, social media, schools, colleges universities, in the workplace etc
Hate crimes can include:
- Threats, bullying or verbal abuse (such as name calling)
- Online or cyber-bullying, including getting unkind or threatening messages through text, email or social networking. This can also include anti-Muslim graphics with no text being posted on social media; this is also form of anti-Muslim hate
- Antisocial behaviour – when other people’s actions make you feel harassed, scared or unhappy
- Assault – when someone physically hurts you or threatens to physically hurt you
- Criminal damage or graffiti
- Distributing anti-Muslim literature, such as leaflets or magazines with anti-Muslim content
Hate Crime/Incidents that have occurred over recent years in UK:
2020- A Tory activist suspended for saying Muslim MP Naz Shah should “go back to Pakistan”
2019- Boris Johnson referred to women wearing a burqa/niqaab as “Letterboxes” which then led to two women wearing hijab being attacked on a London bus
2018- April 3rd “Punish a Muslim day” letter sent out calling on people to perpetrate violent crimes against the country’s Muslim community by carrying out verbal & physical assaults such as removing woman’s hijab/headscarf or even throwing acid on them. Bomb threats were also made to places of worship through to the coining of “Punish a Muslim Day”, has left vulnerable Britons feeling unsafe to go about their daily lives.
2017– The killing of grandfather Makram Ali outside a Finsbury Park mosque
2016- A Muslim woman attacked and dragged along pavement by her hijab in Chingford- London
2015- The murder of another elderly Muslim male, Mushin Ahmed in Rotherham
These incidents serve as grave reminders of the perils of what can happen when Islamophobia goes unchecked.
Help COMBAT Islamaphobia
In order to fight Islamophobia, it is important to understand where it comes from. Normally when people fear a certain minority group, it is mostly the lack of knowledge or physical differences.
Here are 5 easy ways you can help Make A Difference
- Learn about Islam, Spend some time with your community learning more about their beliefs
- Build relationships with the local Muslim community.
- Interrupt Islamophobia.
- Stand in solidarity with the Muslim community.
- Advocate against anti-Islamic policies
Becoming a victim of Islamaphobic hate crime, or being targeted because you are Muslim, can make you feel worried, sad or angry, especially if you feel like your trying to deal with this all on your own. However, lots of people find that it can help if they talk to someone.
Here are some of the things you can do:
- If you feel that you are in immediate risk of getting hurt, you should contact the police straight away on 999. Remember – staying safe is the most important thing.
- Write down the things that have happened as soon you can after they’ve happened, including times, dates and (if possible) descriptions of the people involved.
- Keep evidence, such as any notes or letters, and don’t delete abusive text messages, emails or voicemails. You may also want to take snapshots of on-line graphics or materials that may have been sent to you. If you decide to report the crime, these can be used as evidence and may help to identify the person or people harming you. Even if you don’t want to report it now, this could be useful later on; if the crime leads to a trial, the courts can also give a longer sentence than for a similar crime with no hate motive.
- Tell an adult you trust– this could include a teacher, a family member, a member of your mosque, your youth worker, social worker or support worker. It can be difficult to know how to have this conversation; we have some tips on asking for help.
- With a person you trust, you could develop a safety planthat would help you choose how best to keep yourself safe.
- Talk to your friends. A good friend will listen to you and may help you speak to the appropriate person.
- You can report hate crime anonymously online through Crimestoppersor Report-it; you can also report (either online or on the phone) Islamophobia or anti-Muslim incidents to other organisations, such as Tell MAMA or Stop Hate UK.
- If you have friends or family who are suffering in the same way as you, they should think about reporting the crime too; the more people reporting it, the more likely it is to be stopped.
- Speak to your local Safer Neighbourhood team who are police in the local community. You can do this by looking at your local police website for more information.
- You can also check on your local police website to see if you have a local Hate Crime Unit that you can report incidents to.
You & Co – you can talk to one of our support workers on a one-to-one basis, and we can offer you help and support, whether or not you decide to report anti-Muslim hate crimes or incidents to police. We can give you advice on how crime can affect you and how to cope with it, what to do and what to expect if you decide to report a crime to police, and how to move on from being a victim of crime. You can find out about the support available nearest to you on this website.
Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) – this specialist Muslim third-party reporting organisation is independent and free to use. You can contact Tell MAMA directly (online or over the phone), and they can report the incident to the police on your behalf (anonymously, if you wish), liaise with the police and other agencies on your behalf, and offer support and assistance; call 0800 456 1226.
StopHateUK – this national organisation works to challenge all forms of hate crime and discrimination, and has a 24-hour helpline where people experiencing hate crime can get advice and support; call 0800 138 1625.
Muslim Youth Helpline – this free and confidential helpline offers advice and support to young Muslims, particularly in relation to social problems you may face in the UK; call 0808 808 2008.
Imaan – this organisation supports LGBT Muslim people, their families and friends, to address issues of sexual orientation within Islam, providing a safe space and support network to share individual experiences and institutional resources.
Report-it – this organisation has an online reporting form and lists of agencies who can support you.
Crimestoppers – if you want to provide information about a crime without talking to the police, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
The Mix – this website provides information and support for 16-25 year olds on a whole range of issues, including rape and sexual assault as well as safe sexual relationships. Get confidential help by telephone, email, text or webchat, for young people under 25; call 0808 808 4994.
Citizens Advice Bureau – they have specially trained volunteers who can give you advice on your rights.