After a brief interregnum the much loved Islamophobia Awards return this year with another high-profile line-up of contenders vying for the dubious distinction.
The event was inaugurated in 2003 as a light-hearted swipe at public figures whose actions have generated or perpetuated hatred and/or violence against Muslims or their religion.
The IHRC defines Islamophobia as “stereotypes, bias or acts of hostility towards individual Muslims or followers of Islam in general. In addition to individual acts of intolerance and racial profiling, Islamophobia leads to viewing Muslims as a greater security threat on an institutional, systemic and societal level and perceiving their views to be intrinsically problematic, violent or unethical.”
Islamophobia remains a serious problem around the world and has been massively exacerbated in recent years by the mainly western protagonists of the so-called War on Terror who have torn up the rule book on human rights, not to counter terrorism, but to neutralise threats to their interests around the globe.
The Awards do not seek to trivialise Islamophobia but rather draw attention to its worst manifestations. Throughout the year the IHRC focuses its efforts on the serious business of tackling Islamophobes and helping their victims, so it is a refreshing change to be able to recognise this work by poking fun at the perpetrators. Asking the wider public to nominate figures enables us to shine the spotlight on a wide range of Islamophobes and their practices.
Not all the awards are for Islamophobia. Recognising the great work that many people do tackle it, the IHRC also gives genuine awards to people who have distinguished themselves for their work in combating the scourge.
2013 proved a particularly testing time for many Muslim communities. At home public and media discourse reached new heights of xenophobia with attacks on Islamic education, hijab and niqab, and segregation of the sexes. The British government published yet another series of “deradicalisation” proposals in its continuing programme of engineering a more compliant Muslim community, while on the streets Muslims and mosques continued to be attacked by individuals incited to violence by the incessant drip feed of Islamophobia from the mass media. Some of the perpetrators are among the nominees this year.
Abroad, in Muslim countries the counter revolutions against the Arab Spring spawned a new wave of terror against Islamist groups, particularly in Egypt. In Bahrain the crackdown on reform protestors continued despite pledges by the ruling monarchy to institute human rights and political reforms and the authorities there have been nominated for allowing security forces to bulldoze mosques and desecrate copies of the Holy Quran.
As always the Awards are also a useful means of raising funds for the IHRC. All the proceeds from the event as well as from the very entertaining auction go into our ever-depleted coffers.
The Islamophobia Awards take place on 21st February 2014 in London, UK. Visit the event page here, for more information http://www.ihrc.org.uk/events/10906-islamophobia-awards-2014
If you are based in the UK, you can buy tickets to attend here http://shop.ihrc.org/tickets