Scottish Government urged to adopt definition of Islamophobia

A formal definition of Islamophobia should be adopted by the Scottish Government, councils and all political parties, if prejudice and hatred are to be tackled, it was claimed today.

Anas Sarwar. Picture: John Devlin

Tory peer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and Wes Streeting, Labour chair of the All-Parliamentary Party Group on British Muslims said that adopting the definition would ensure Islamophobia can be properly tackled, and would support Scotland’s Muslim communities.

The pair will meet Scottish political leaders today to argue for the working definition which classes Islamophobia as a form of racism.

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It was produced by the APPG after a year-long consultation across the UK and reads: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness” and has been adopted by the UK Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, Plaid Cymru, the SNP Westminster group as well as the Muslim Council of Britain and by London City Hall by Mayor Sadiq Khan.

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The pair have been invited to press the case for its adopting in Scotland by Holyrood’s Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia.

Baroness Warsi, former co-chair of the Conservative Party, said: “It has been great to see all the political parties in Westminster bar the Conservatives adopt the APPG on British Muslims definition of Islamophobia including the SNP’s Westminster group.

“We now call upon all parties in the Scottish Parliament and Government to formally adopt a definition of Islamophobia framed by parliamentarians, endorsed by academics and rooted in British Muslims communities.”

Baroness Warsi and Mr Streeting are due to meet Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell, Scottish Conservatives interim leader Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie and Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh.

Mr Streeting said: “The APPG on British Muslims definition has been widely accepted by Muslim communities across the UK, political parties in Westminster, cities such as London and Birmingham and now we call on the Scottish Government to adopt it too.

“The definition was informed by many Scottish Muslim organisations and endorsed by many more. We hope the Scottish Government will formally adopt our definition of Islamophobia to reinforce the commitment to tackling Islamophobia in all its forms.”

And Anas Sarwar MSP, chair of Holyrood’s CPG on Tackling Islamophobia, said: “A failure to define Islamophobia risks allowing those with ill-intent to define it for us.

“With racism on the rise in Britain and across the world, it is the responsibility of all political parties and public bodies to ensure we do everything we can to promote a more tolerant and inclusive society.

“Adopting the definition of Islamophobia in Scotland will help demonstrate to our diverse communities that we as lawmakers recognise Islamophobia exists, and that it will always be challenged.

“We can’t leave the fight against prejudice and hate to the Muslim community alone – it’s a fight for all of us.”

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