UK appoints adviser to tackle Islamophobia

Aditi Khanna, London
Published : 04:30, Jul 24, 2019 | Updated : 04:30, Jul 24, 2019

Britain`s Prime Minister David Cameron (R) speaks with imam Qari Asim (L), and Shabana Muneer, a member of the mosque`s women`s group, as he visits the Makkah Masjid Mosque in Leeds, Britain January 18, 2016. REUTERS/File PhotoThe UK government appointed an independent adviser on Tuesday to provide expert advice on a definition of Islamophobia to combat anti-Muslim discrimination in the country.
Imam Qari Asim, Deputy Chair of the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group, will lead the process and will be joined by a second adviser to be confirmed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG).
“Imam Asim’s appointment marks a further step in helping us to achieve that goal and ensures that we develop an effective definition of Islamophobia which commands widespread support,” said Communities Secretary James Brokenshire.
“The Government is wholeheartedly committed to ensuring that Muslims are not targeted for hatred, persecution or discrimination,” the minister said.
MHCLG had announced earlier this year that the government would appoint two advisers to drive the process of establishing a definition on Islamophobia forward and lead work on making recommendations for the government to consider. The advisers will work with the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group, which will continue to engage with Muslims and address hate and discrimination.
Imam Asim, awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II for his community work, said his role would have a far-reaching impact in protecting British Muslims.
Prince Charles laughs with pupils as he leaves Belle Vue Girls School in Bradford, northern England.“To tackle the alarming rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, it is imperative that Islamophobia is defined. I am deeply committed to working across Muslim communities and with relevant stakeholders to formulate a legally robust, comprehensive and workable definition of Islamophobia,” said Asim, who is senior Imam at Makkah Mosque in the northern England city of Leeds, which has won an award for being the UK's model mosque. He is also Legal Director at a global law firm and is Chair of Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board as well as Senior Editor of ImamsOnline.
His work will build on the definitions of Islamophobia currently being considered, including one proposed by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims. The government move follows a row over the APPG on British Muslims definition, which reads: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”
The UK’s National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) had warned that the definition was too broad and could hinder their counter-terrorism work.
Imam Qari AsimFormed in 2012, the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group comprises independent experts, academics and British Muslim community representatives. Brokenshire said its input in arriving at a new definition of Islamophobia was “essential” after the government had rejected the definition proposed by the APPG on British Muslims due to “practical and legal challenges”.
The purpose of the expert review is to provide recommendations to the British government on a non-legally binding definition, which will ensure that it does not conflict with the UK’s current equalities legislation. The independent advisers will gather evidence from stakeholders and other sources to develop recommendations for a definition which will command support and will make a positive impact.