IHRC addresses civil society concerns to political opposition

Islamic Human Rights Commission

7 January 2019

PRESS RELEASE – UK: IHRC addresses civil society concerns to political opposition

IHRC has produced a briefing asking the political opposition to urgently confront the shrinking political space available for civil society organisations in the country.

Echoing the findings of a recent report by the European Fundamental Rights Agency into challenges facing CSOs across the European Union, the briefing warns of the damaging consequences for democracy if CSO space continues to be pressured by a combination of regulatory restrictions, funding squeezes, exclusion from political participation and failure to act against attacks on CSOs by other political actors.

In particular it warns of the risks of successive governments and those opposed to Muslim participation forcing to the margins authentic CSOs from the Muslim community that do not conform to preconceived official strategies or desired policy outcomes.

“The effect of this has been to produce policies that are often counterproductive, discriminatory and which do not address the fundamental concerns, needs and aspirations of Britain’s approximately three million Muslims, and which often ultimately impact other minoritised groups and on occasion the majority too,” states the briefing.

The recent review of ‘shariah councils’ highlights one instance where the government appointed panel failed to include any CSOs or individuals that could be said to be representative of the Muslim community.

Moreover those Muslim CSOs and groupings which continue to operate against all odds face victimisation by a hostile and Islamophobic government that smears their participation as “entryism”. The Trojan Horse affair in which Muslim participation in the running of Muslim-majority schools was turned into a moral panic about extremism represents a very powerful case in point.

According to the briefing, we are living in a moment described as an environment of hate against Muslims.  This environment is the product of the cross fertilising and mutually reinforcing of anti-Muslim racism political, media and policy discourse.  Attacks on Muslim civil society must be understood as part of this climate which is part of the deeper crisis of the political and social culture we live in.

The attack on the CSO space has contributed to the delegitimisation of some Muslim or Muslim led CSOs in particular but also non-Muslim civil society and wider aspects of civil society in general.

Notes to editors:

The full briefing is available to read at https://www.ihrc.org.uk/publications/briefings/20386-briefing-the-shrinking-political-space-for-csos-in-the-uk/

For more information please call +(44) 7958 522196 or (+44) 20 8904 4222

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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

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