Britain must 'combat Islamophobia'

The UK government must combat Islamophobia and pursue a more Muslim-friendly foreign policy if British Muslims are to fully integrate into society, a new report says.

    The aftermath of 9/11 has made life more difficult for UK Muslims

    Released on Thursday by the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), the report states that most British Muslims suffer from negative media coverage, lack of legal protection from discrimination, and a lack of respect by government and society at large.

    The study, which is based on the feedback of more than 1000 British Muslims, also challenges the widely held assumption that the loyalty of British Muslims to the state is open to question.

    Over the past few years certain sections of the British media and some British politicians have blamed Muslims for their alleged lack of affiliation to the UK, and charged them with ingratitude to the government and wider society.

    However, the IHRC survey found that most British Muslims see no contradiction between Islam and good citizenship, and argue they are loyal to the state because of their religion.

    Fear of racism


    The authors of the report believe the government needs to recognise these two sources of affiliation and implement "comprehensive social and political policies" to encourage them to function complimentarily.

    And they say the government must address its anti-Muslim foreign policies and the climate of fear and racism, as well as encourage Muslims to participate in the political process.

    "The government needs to seriously look at Muslims' expectations of them if they are to foster a truly inclusive, safe and just society"

    Arzu Merali,
    Islamic Human Rights Commission

    Arzu Merali, an IHRC spokeswoman, said: "Hitherto we have seen a lopsided debate where prevailing prejudices about Islam and Muslims have dictated the terms of Muslim participation in society.


    "In recent years this has been characterised by increasing pressure on Muslim beliefs and practices. This study has thrown many of these perceptions of Muslims away.

    "Based on the responses of Muslims themselves, it finds that religion is one of the main factors that have influenced a high level of loyalty among the UK's Muslims despite clear feelings of discrimination and hatred being levelled against them.

    September 11


    "The government needs to seriously look at Muslims' expectations of them if they are to foster a truly inclusive, safe and just society."

    Earlier this year, another major report on British Muslims found that persistent and untackled Islamophobia could lead to "time-bombs" of backlash and bitterness.

    PM Tony Blair says Britain is

    becoming a more just society

    The Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia said the aftermath of the September 11 attacks has made life more difficult for Muslims in the UK.

    It criticised public bodies for failing to address "institutional Islamophobia" and warned that exclusion from public life perpetuated a feeling among some Muslims, particularly the young, that they do not belong in the country.

    On the other hand, the British government insists that it strives for an equal, inclusive society where every citizen is treated with respect and where there is opportunity for all.

    Equal society

    It argues that Britain is becoming a more equal society and the UK now has the most comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in Europe.

    Increasing prosperity also benefits Muslims, the government argues, as many British Muslims come from lower-income groups.

    In addition, 10 Downing Street insists that its foreign policies, such as its support for the Iraq war and the Israeli government, are not anti-Muslim but are rather based on the principle of justice and the national interest.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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