Concerns expressed about proposed definition of Islamophobia

By agency reporter
January 30, 2019

Humanists UK and Faith to Faithless have expressed concerns about the damage to free speech and to freedom of religion or belief that could be caused by adopting a new definition of Islamophobia, in a response to the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the issue.

The inquiry focused on a definition of Islamophobia put forward by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims as "Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness."

Humanists UK and Faith to Faithless believe that this definition (and in particular the tests proposed alongside it) is problematic because it does not sufficiently differentiate between (i) prejudice and discriminatory actions against people who identify or are identified as Muslim, and (ii) criticism of the beliefs, ideas, and practices that might fall under the umbrella of Islam. It therefore poses a risk to freedom of speech and thought and of religion or belief.

It also fails to consider the impact upon former Muslims, for whom being able to question, criticise, and openly oppose Quranic teachings and expressions of Muslimness can be an important aspect of their identity, can help them to come to terms with abuse they have experienced, and is a legitimate expression of their new religion or belief.

Faith to Faithless founder Imtiaz Shams commented, "This definition is problematic in a number of ways, the most significant of which is that it fails to sufficiently distinguish between criticism of Islam and prejudice towards Muslims. As such, it fails to protect freedom of speech and freedom of religion or belief. We hope that the Home Affairs Select Committee considers these problems and focuses any definition on discrimination and hate against Muslims or people perceived to be Muslims."

* Read the enquiry  Islamophobia Defined here

* Read the response to the inquiry here

* Faith to Faithless https://www.faithtofaithless.com/

* Home Affairs Committee https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/home-affairs-committee/

* Humanists UK https://humanism.org.uk/


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