Work underway for working definition of Islamophobia
Speaking during a backbench debate on the issue, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has set out the process for establishing a working definition of Islamophobia.
Welcoming the recent efforts of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims to develop a definition, Brokenshire confirmed that the government would not be adopting their proposed wording but agreed that there needs to be a formal definition of Islamophobia.
The APPG proposal defined Islamophobia as ‘a type of racism’, which is not in line with the definition enshrined in the Equality Act 2010. Borokenshire said that conflating race and religion in conflict with legal definitions could cause confusion, undermine free speech and may not adequately address sectarian hatred.
Instead, the government is set to appoint two expert advisers to lead a new study in close collaboration with the cross-government Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group.
Brokenshire said: “I am deeply concerned at hatred which is directed against British Muslims and others because of their faith or heritage. This is utterly unacceptable and does not reflect the values of our country. To get a firmer grip on the nature of this bigotry and division we agree there needs to be a formal definition of Islamophobia to help strengthen our efforts.
“I know that there are strong feelings on this issue. That’s why I’m announcing the appointment of two experts to work closely with the cross-government Working Group, to thoroughly examine the options available to us that ensures wide-ranging acceptance and will have the positive effect intended. Input from the Working Group is an essential part of informing our approach to combatting religiously motivated hatred, supporting victims and holding perpetrators to account. Their work on this important task will be invaluable.”