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British Muslims Urge Legal Protection against Islamophobia

Muslims in the United Kingdom have called on the government of Prime Minister Theresa May to speed up its efforts to recognize a working definition of Islamophobia as hate attacks against members of the community keeps surging on an unprecedented level across the country.

The Muslim Council of Britain said Saturday that it was campaigning along other groups to persuade May, who lead the ruling Conservative Party, as well as leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, to adopt a newly proposed working definition of Islamophobia.

Harun Khan, secretary general of the Council said the campaign is meant to persuade the mainstream political parties that they should pile more pressure on the Home Office (interior ministry) to adopt the definition and to provide more legal protection for Muslims across the UK suffering from a surge in hate attacks and abuses.

Khan said he and other campaigners were hoping that political leaders would make a “positive response” to demands of communities by adopting the definition.

The renewed call for adoption of a working definition of Islamophobia comes amid the continued refusal of the Home Office to endorse the move. A junior minister of the department earlier told a cross-party group that there was no plan in the ministry for adopting the definition

 Muslims have recounted many cases of abusive behavior against them during meetings with members of the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims. The group, which is conducting an inquiry on the prevalence of Islamophobia in Britain, has held sessions in Manchester, London, Birmingham and Sheffield. The inquiry has identified numerous cases physical and verbal abuse and believes Islamophobic experiences have affected Muslims on a wide spectrum of issues.

Call for legal protection against Islamophobia comes as senior politicians, including people in May’s Conservative Party, have been accused of inciting attacks on Muslims. Former foreign minister Boris Johnson sparked a huge controversy in August when he likened Muslim women wearing burqas to letterboxes and bank robbers. Reports have shown that attacks on Muslim women wearing various types of hijab have increased significantly since Johnson’s article was published in the Daily Telegraph.

Around the same time, Corbyn’s Labour came under immense pressure from the pro-Israeli lobbies to accept a multi-national definition of anti-Semitism.

Muslims believe Islamophobia is also a form of racism and those involved in attacks and abuses against the Muslims should be held accountable.

An unprecedented outrage erupted among the public in Britain earlier this week when a video emerged online showing a teenager Syrian refugee boy being racially abused and attacked in a school in Huddersfield, in northern England. Police said the attacker should face charges of assault in court.


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