World's worst Islamophobes named

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, US President George Bush, and French President Jacque Chirac are the world's worst "Islamphobes" of 2004, according to a leading British Muslim rights group.

    Sharon, Bush, Chirac are the world's worst 'Islamophobes'of 2004

    The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) selected the three leaders on Saturday, marking the annual "Islamophobia Awards" to highlight what they described as growing anti-Muslim prejudice.

    "It is with great sadness that we reveal this year's winners," the commission said in a statement.

    "Sadly, the competition was extremely tough and we see no signs of this abating in the year to come."

    While the awards are satirical, commission Chairman Massoud Shadjareh said demonisation of Muslims was now comparable to that endured by the Jewish community before and during World War Two.

    A crusader

    Bush got the top "Islamophobe of the year" award for his anti-terror war, which the IHRC claimed was in fact a crusade against Islam. Chirac and Israel's Sharon were named joint winners of the "Most Islamophobic International Politician".

    "What we are concerned about is that a generation of Muslim youths are becoming disaffected."

    Inayat Bunglawala, IHRC spokesperson

    Chirac outraged Muslims last year when he termed the Islamic headscarf as "aggressive" during a campaign to ban all religious symbols from public schools.

    Sharon was included after another year of Israeli-Palestinian violence. "Sharon has a whole history of being Islamophobic and basically racist over Palestine and the way that the Palestinians have been treated," Shadjareh said.

    Fighting prejudices

    The head of Britain's government-funded Commission for Racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, welcomed the awards as an important step to "fight bigotry and prejudice against Muslims."

    Since the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US, rights groups in Britain and elsewhere have reported an increase in anti-Muslim attacks and prejudiced attitudes.

    Britain's leading Muslim umbrella organisation, the Muslim Council for Britain, said Islamophobia was becoming institutionalised. "Ordinary Muslims have felt it through
    anti-terror laws which have targeted disproportionately the Muslim community," said spokesman Inayat Bunglawala.

    "What we are concerned about is that a generation of Muslim youths are becoming disaffected."

    British politicians and elements of the media were also singled out by the IHRC for promoting Islamophobia.

    Far-right British National Party leader Nick Griffin was named most Islamophobic British politician while the right-leaning Daily Telegraph took the media award.

    London's police were given a special award for, amongst other things, disproportionately targeting Muslims." 

    SOURCE: Reuters


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