All-Party Parliamentary Group consultation in Hainault on legal definition of Islamophobia draws in around 80 people
PUBLISHED: 18:55 18 September 2018
Around 80 people had their say on what to include in a legal definition of Islamophobia at London-wide consultation in Hainault.
Ilford North MP Wes Streeting, co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims, held the last in a series of community consultations to create a working definition of Islamophobia at Gardens of Peace, in Elmbridge Road, on Monday, September 17.
Opening the meeting, Mr Streeting said: “What we are looking to do is have, for the first time, a statutory definition of Islamophobia.”
He explained that feedback received – following on similar consultations in Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham – would feed into a report recommending a legal definition of Islamophobia be adopted by Parliament.
A panel, comprising Redbridge council leader Jas Athwal; Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Naz Shah MP and Det Supt Shabnam Chaudhri, gave speeches on the topic during the first half of the two-hour meeting.
Det Insp Chaudhri shared her experiences encountering racism while growing up on a predominantly white street in East Ham more than 30 years ago.
“I was born in Karachi,” she said. “My father put the six of us in a van and drove across six continents to East Ham.
She added: “We had our windows smashed, our car was scratched.
“When my mum was on her way back from the mosque she had an egg thrown at her.”
She spoke of a spike in hate crime, attributed in part to victims having greater confidence in reporting, and urged attendees to ensure they report incidents to the police.
Attendees then shared thoughts of what the definition should include as well as their own experiences of Islamophobia for remaining hour of the meeting.
It was highlighted, by two attendees, that existing definitions of Islamophobia put forward by Exeter University and Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) should be looked at.
Another two participants suggested the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism be used as a framework, with the 11 examples to be “tweaked” to cater to Islam.
It was also considered important, by one person, for the definition to include insults direct against the Prophet Muhammad to be considered as Islamophobic.
Three attendees separately criticised the composition of the panel and room – citing a lack of young people present, the absence of any Conservative Party representatives or an “educated Muslim man” on the panel.
Ms Shah rebuffed the latter criticism.
“I left school aged 12,” she said.
“I had an unconventional education by the school of life has taught me well.”
Mr Streeting also said that the Federation of Islamic students had been consulted in the process, along with the Muslim Council of Britain, and that they had tried to get Conservative representation.
Mohamed Omer, a founding member of the Gardens of Peace cemetery, delivered closing remarks.
He said: “We are not saying we are a special case.
“We are saying we should be treated fair and equally.”