Islamic Human Rights Commission
For Immediate Release
18th February 2001
New Report on Religious Discrimination
Islamophobia Needs More Action, Not More Words
In the wake of persistent pressure from religious communities in Britain, the Home Office has contracted the University of Derby to undertake research on religious discrimination in England and Wales. The university’s research project has resulted in a new report on religious discrimination which is due to be launched this Monday, coinciding with the effectuation of the Terrorism Act.
The report will be the latest in a long line of research by other organisations and experts on the nature and extent of religious discrimination in Britain. The Islamic Human Rights Commission (Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Hostility in the United Kingdom, January 2000), the Runnymede Trust (Islamphobia: A Challenge for US All, 1997), Cambridge University, among others, have all produced reports exposing the endemic levels of discrimination on religious grounds in the United Kingdom.
However, the latest report is unlikely to add anything new to documentation that already exists. As numerous organisations have already confirmed, religious discrimination – particularly against the British Muslim community – has reached severe levels, requiring a serious response from the British Government if the problem is to be solved. “Although international instruments guarantee the right to practice one’s religious faith freely and without discrimination, the domestic law of the United Kingdom does not protect religious communities in this respect,” noted IHRC Chairman Massoud Shadjareh. Currently, UK law on racial discrimination protects minorities such as the Sikh and Jewish community, but fails to similarly protect the rights of other minorities such as Muslims and Hindus. It is therefore perfectly legal to discriminate against a Muslim on religious grounds, although this violates rights recognised in the international arena.
IHRC Chairman Massoud Shadjareh said, “That religious discrimination, particularly against Muslims, is widespread and systematic in the United Kingdom, is a fact already documented and confirmed by a number of organisations and specialists. In this respect, we do not need yet another report to add to the collection – religious discrimination in Britain is already a known fact. What we need now is more action, not more words. And we can start the process of reform by addressing the inadequacies of the British legal system.”
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