MEND Press Release: 30 Scottish Organisations Sign Open Letter Urging Local Councils to Adopt the APPG Definition of Islamophobia
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Wednesday February 23 2022
30 Scottish organisations have signed an open letter calling on all local councils in Scotland to urgently adopt the APPG definition of Islamophobia and accompanying guidelines put forward by the Coalition Against Islamophobia.
The APPG definition of Islamophobia states: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”
The letter has been sent to the leaders of all 32 Scottish councils and its signatories include a range of Muslim organisations and mosques, as well as other religious and human rights organisations, such as:
- MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development)
- Central Scotland, West of Scotland, and Edinburgh and Lothian Regional Equality Councils
- Edinburgh Central Mosque
- AMINA Muslim Women’s Resource Centre
In the letter, the organisations highlight the worrying rise of Islamophobia in Scotland and that councils have a statutory duty, as per the Equality Act 2010, to advance equality of opportunity for communities with a protected characteristic, such as Muslims.
Indeed, the 2021 Islamophobia public inquiry by the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia found that:
- 83% of respondents have experienced Islamophobia directly;
- 75% of respondents see Islamophobia as a regular or everyday issue in Scottish society;
- 78% of respondents believe Islamophobia is a growing problem in Scotland.
The letter concluded that adopting a formal definition of Islamophobia “is a fundamental first step all councils must take to tackle the critical issue of Islamophobia in a targeted and effective manner.”
Jawad Khursheed, MEND Scotland Chair, states:
“Having an official definition of Islamophobia is essential to tackling this appalling form of racism. Councils have a responsibility to adopt the APPG definition to show that they will not tolerate Islamophobia and are standing against the hardships faced by Scottish Muslim communities, including their own.”
Why a definition of Islamophobia is important:
- It is the starting point in tackling the issue because we can only tackle Islamophobia effectively if we know what it means and entails.
- A formal definition of Islamophobia will allow policymakers to identify how Islamophobia manifests itself and functions and therefore, devise meaningful strategies to tackle it.
- Adopting the definition signifies allyship – that the hardships being faced by Scottish Muslim communities are being recognised and that combatting Islamophobia is a priority.