Don't Forget Muslim Victims in 'Islam Week'

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British Awareness Programme Is Not Enough To Change Anti-Muslim Hostility In The United Kingdom

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release 06.11.00

Don't Forget Muslim Victims in 'Islam Week'
British Awareness Programme Is Not Enough To Change Anti-Muslim Hostility In The United Kingdom

Monday 6 November heralds the commencement of 'Islam Week', a programme of events to encourage awareness of Islam across the country. Islam is now the fastest growing religion in the United Kingdom, and the second largest faith community.

Although IHRC welcomes 'Islam Week' and applauds its organisers, IHRC fears that without concerted government commitments it is unlikely to result in any substantial improvements in the plight of the many victims of anti-Muslim discrimination and hostility in the UK. According to IHRC research Muslims of all ages but partcularly the young and women face increasing levels of hostility and discrimination.

This is further borne out in the European arena. The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance has noted that Muslim women are more likely to be discriminated against than others in wider society, as women, and as Muslims. This observation tallies with IHRC's findings in its report this year launched at the House of Lords, Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Hostility in the United Kingdom, where 45% of Muslims surveyed stated that they or a member of their immediate family had experienced discrimination or hostility just for being Muslim. The report indicates that Islamophobia has reached alarming levels in almost all aspects of British society, including education, employment, health, housing and so on. These findings reinforce the implications of previous research showing that over 70% of racially motivated murders in the decade to 1990 in the UK were of Muslims.

In this respect, British law does not cater for the rights of Muslims, since religiously-motivated discrimination is not covered by law. Currently aspects of discrimination are covered by indirect discrimination under existing race relations law. The rights of religious groups such as Jews and Sikhs are protected under the law since they are also classed as a distinct ethnic group - whereas the rights of Muslims are effectively ignored: Religiously-motivated discrimination against Muslims is therefore perfectly legal in the UK.
Unless the level of anti-Muslim discrimination in Britain is recognised, and unless the rights of Muslims in this respect are given the same recognition as other religious groups, programmes such as 'Islam Week' are unlikely to result in significant improvements for the basic rights of British Muslims.


For more information on the above, please contact the IHRC Press Office on (+44) 20 8902 0888, (+44) 958 522 196, e-mail: ihrc@dial.pipex.com.