The government has been criticised for rejecting a proposed working definition of Islamophobia that has been adopted by parties including Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Conservatives.
The definition was drafted in a report published by a cross-party group of MPs in December where it had stated that “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”
However, the government has said that the definition needed to be given further consideration. The former Conservative chair Sayeeda Warsi, who has been at the forefront of tackling Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme responded to Martin Hewitt’s letter by calling it “irresponsible scaremongering” and urged the government to accept the proposed definition.
Martin Hewitt, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, which represents the leaders of law enforcement in England and Wales, had earlier said that the definition was “too broad as currently drafted, could cause confusion for officers enforcing it and could be used to challenge legitimate free speech on the historical or theological actions of Islamic states”.
In March, the Tory party had suspended 14 members for allegedly making Islamophobic comments after a string of abusive posts were uncovered on social media. However, some of these members were then re-instated back in the Party a few weeks ago.
Islamophobia is undefinable and the working definition proposed by the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims is not legally binding today.
“I am deeply concerned at hatred which is directed against British Muslims and others because of their faith or heritage. This is utterly unacceptable and does not reflect the values of our country,” said Rt. Hon James Brokenshire MP.
He announced the Government will instead appoint two expert advisers to lead a new study in close collaboration with the cross-Government Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group. But, some Ahmadiyya Muslims have claimed that we were not consulted in the process of adopting a formal definition of Islamophobia.