Last year, to mark Islamophobia Awareness Month, I wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to take action to tackle this awful form of racism.
It’s been over a year and I haven’t received a response. I therefore raised a point of order in the Commons after the PM’s failure to respond and wrote to the PM again, urging him to act and to show leadership on this issue.
In order to challenge the Government on their failure to tackle Islamophobia within their own Party and beyond, I secured a Westminster Hall debate on Islamophobia Awareness Month. I was hugely grateful to hear powerful contributions from colleagues across the political divide in my debate, and was particularly thankful to my fellow Muslim MP’s for sharing the harrowing examples of abuse they’ve faced for being a Muslim.
The Government’s own figures reveal once again Muslims have been victim to the highest proportion of all hate crimes committed this past year. My colleague, the honourable member for Oxford East and I have written to the Conservative Party Chair over the surge in hate crimes against Muslims following the Liverpool attack. Time and again we see the conflation of Islam and terrorism, which is wrong and perpetuates a harmful stereotype of Muslims.
Last week, Azeem Rafiq’s powerful and moving testimony about his experience in cricket shone a light on how easily racism and Islamophobia can go unchecked and be simply dismissed as “banter”.
I was deeply disappointed by the government’s response. The Minister was dismissive and in her opening remarks conflated Islam with terrorism. She failed to adopt the APPG British Muslims definition on Islamophobia, failed to answer my questions on the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group and failed to address the damning findings of the Singh review.
Representing British Muslims requires more than just lip service.
It requires commitment.
It requires leadership.
And most importantly it requires action.
I also organised a Parliamentary drop in event for Islamophobia Awareness Month alongside the Muslim Council of Britain and Amnesty International UK which was a great opportunity for MPs to show their commitment to rooting out Islamophobia and racism. I was overwhelmed by the cross-party support at the drop-in, which was attended by MPs across the political divide. We were also joined by Uyghur activist, Rahima Mahmut, who highlighted the genocide of Uyghur Muslims in China, which is Islamophobia at its most abhorrent.
Finally, I had an incredible visit to Cambridge Central Mosque with Anneliese Dodds MP to mark Islamophobia Awareness Month. The Mosque is a real trail blazer in the community as Europe’s first eco-Mosque. Beautifully designed and thoughtfully accessible to all. A must-visit.