LONDON: A UK Muslim leader said on Tuesday that the findings of a survey on Islamophobia have exposed the “widespread nature of the problem” in Britain.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Birmingham, showed that Islamophobia passed the so-called dinner table test, which was considered appropriate for polite conversation and considered socially acceptable.
Titled, “The Dinner Table Prejudice: Islamophobia in Contemporary Britain,” the survey found that Muslims were the second least-liked group in Britain after Gypsies and Irish travelers, with 25.9 percent of the British public feeling negative toward Muslims. , and 9.9 percent was very negative. ,
Speaking at the launch of the report, Zara Mohamed, the first female Secretary General of Britain’s Muslim Council, said Islamophobia was certainly real, contrary to what some people thought, and it affects all aspects of society.
“I think what is really great about this report and its contribution to the body of evidence is that it shows us not only the pervasive nature of the problem but also the least-liked people in the Muslim population. Huh.
“In my one year so far as Secretary General of the MCB, we have unfortunately seen a very changing landscape and one that is becoming increasingly hostile to British Muslims.
“This is the reality of how Muslims are perceived in everyday Britain, and it is in 2022 as well,” he said.
More than one in four people questioned for the survey, and nearly half of supporters of the Conservative Party and those who voted to leave the European Union held the conspiratorial view that there existed “no-go areas” in the UK where Sharia law rules. Was.
And 26.5 percent agreed with the statement that, “there are areas in the UK that operate under Sharia law where non-Muslims are not able to enter,” the study said. Among Conservative Party voters and those elected to leave the European Union, this figure rose to 43.4 percent.
Another 36.3 percent of Britons said they thought “Islam is a threat to the British way of life,” and 18.1 percent supported, and 9.5 percent supported the idea of banning all Muslim migration to Britain.
“British people acknowledge their ignorance of most non-Christian religions, with the majority saying they are ‘not sure’ how Jewish (50.8 per cent) and Sikh (62.7 per cent) scriptures are taught.
“In the case of Islam, however, people feel more confident in decision-making, with only 40.7 percent unsure. This is despite the fact that people are more likely to make the false impression that Islam is ‘entirely’ literal The study report states that prejudice towards Islam is not merely ignorance, but false education and mistaken identity.
Mohamed pointed out that Islamophobia has had a very real impact on the everyday lives of Muslims, and he welcomed academic evidence such as the latest report authored by Stephen Jones and Amy Unsworth.
He said it was important to document the problem and share data with policymakers when calling for change.
“In some ways it empowers Muslim communities to say, ‘Don’t think it’s on your mind, something really needs to be done.’
“The government’s own evidence on hate crimes found that 40 percent of those who faced hate crimes were Muslims. This is a very real problem and I hope Prof. Based on the work Jones has done, we can all take advantage of it and use it in our campaigns, activism and conversations.
“While Islamophobia has certainly passed the dinner table test, it is time for us to move on and be able to make real change, and MCB is committed to doing that,” said Mohamed.
The survey began with news headlines about British Muslim Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani’s claims that her faith was given as a reason for her sacking as a government minister in 2020.
She said she was told that her “Muslimity was raised as an issue” in a meeting and that her “Muslim female minister’s position was making colleagues feel uncomfortable.”
“It was like getting punched in the stomach. I felt humiliated and powerless,” she said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a Cabinet Office inquiry into the claims.
On Ghani’s allegations, Mohamed said he “highlighted how systematic and institutionalized the problem of Islamophobia is. It hits hard, and it hits deep.”
Islamophobia, he said, “is not just in our minds, and this weekend we have seen politics at the center of how it plays out.
“What is actually being done? What is the decision-makers’ approach, if any, to dealing with the problem?”
He said the MCB is working to adopt the definition of Islamophobia developed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims.
By APPG definition, Islamophobia was rooted in racism and was a type of racism that targeted Muslimism or expressions of perceived Muslimism. The definition was widely supported in Muslim communities, political parties, and civil society.
However, the ruling Conservative Party rejected the APPG’s definition in 2019, saying it needed “more thought”.
The late James Brokenshire, UK Communities Secretary at the time, told the House of Commons that the definition of the APPG was not consistent with the Equality Act 2010, and that two advisers would be appointed to come up with a definition.
However, an imam appointed by ministers as a key adviser on Islamophobia said on Monday that he had been ignored by No 10 and the UK’s Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Michael Gove.
Imam Qari Asim, who was asked to help formulate the definition of Islamophobia, told The Times that he had not received a response to emails and letters he sent to the government for more than two years. have sent.