Read More Atheist Republic The UK government quietly abandoned plans to create an official definition of Islamophobia. This action comes after promises to officially define the term three years ago amid mounting pressures to take action on hate crimes against Muslims and the scandals allegedly exposing Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.
This event also comes as the UK will mark the beginning of the tenth Islamophobia Awareness Month, an annual campaign set by various British Muslim organizations in 2012.
The government has dropped work on an official definition of Islamophobia that was promised more than three years ago.#UK #islamophobia #muslim pic.twitter.com/ZphUqC4Mvi
— Islam Channel (@Islamchannel) November 1, 2022
According to statistics by the UK Home Office, hate crimes against Muslims have significantly increased this year to 3,459 cases in 2022, a 42% increase compared to last year, making Muslims the most targeted religious group in England and Wales.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group had already drafted a working definition of Islamophobia in 2018, where they defined it as a “type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness.” Labour, Liberal Democrats, and other opposition parties accepted this definition, but the Conservative Party rejected it.
This action triggered a promise by former Communities Secretary James Brokenshire that the government would propose an alternative working definition of Islamophobia in May 2019, noting that a formal definition of Islamophobia is necessary to combat bigotry and division against Muslims.
But Michael Gove, the current Communities secretary, reportedly opposed plans to build a definition of Islamophobia, as reported by the Independent. Mr. Gove said it “would be very difficult to get a precise definition” of Islamophobia. He added that “there are dangers if a university or another organization which should be the home of free debate uses a definition like that to police what people can say in order to penalize them for it.”
While the abandonment of the plan received criticism from various British Muslim organizations, some MPs from both Labour and Conservative Parties and some ex-Muslim individuals and organizations supported the move.
In a tweet, Dr. Rakib Ehsan praised Mr. Gove for quitting the idea of creating an official definition of Islamophobia for the government. He said the proposed definition would police and censor necessary discussion of multiculturalism, integration, and identity in the United Kingdom.
Good move by @michaelgove.This definition of “Islamophobia” goes far beyond combating genuine forms of anti-Muslim discrimination.It would be used to police and censor much-needed discussions on multiculturalism, identity and integration in Britain.https://t.co/lK0aYq8MnE
— Dr Rakib Ehsan (@rakibehsan) October 30, 2022
Nikita Malik, a former director of the Center for Radicalization and Terrorism, wrote an article for Forbes in 2019 suggesting that instead of defining Islamophobia, a definition of anti-Muslim hatred should be created instead to protect Muslims from discrimination.
Various ex-Muslim organizations and individuals have already spoken out against Islamophobia, saying that it often includes any criticism of Islam as a religion and therefore shuts down their freedom of speech.
The term ‘Islamophobia’ doesn’t distinguish between criticism of Islam and the hatred of Muslims. This is problematic. All religions must be open to criticism as a matter of free speech, and equally, everyone must be free to hold their religion/worldview.https://t.co/la8tim57hF
— Humanists UK (@Humanists_UK) March 26, 2019
In an interview, ex-Muslim Amina Sardar said that Islamophobia is often used to silence critics speaking out against discrimination within Islamic societies. An open letter written by British think-tank Civitas said that the APPG’s definition of Islamophobia would threaten people’s civil liberties.