is systematic, organised racism"
speakers at the Islamophobia Awareness Month event at the House of Commons on
25 November, hosted by Jeremy Corbyn MP, referred to the forthcoming European
Parliament elections taking place in May 2014 and the need for an anti-racist
coalition to dislodge the incumbent British National Party MEP in England's
North West region.
Taj, President of the TUC, called for efforts by the MCB and other Muslim civil
society bodies to promote a voter registration and voter turn-out campaign, as
did Weyman Bennet, of United Against Facism. He noted that for Nick Griffin,
the BNP leader and MEP for the North West, Islam was "an evil". These
types of racist remarks had to be challenged and "the hard fascists
exposed" for their "systematic, organised racism".
Mark McDonald explained that people could get away with such remarks because
the criminal law, while adequate in giving protection to individuals from hate
speech, failed when groups of people were demonised. He also described his own
shock and surprise at the lack of awareness of Islam amongst his own colleagues
and judges. He could not see why some judges argued that it was important to see
the facial expressions of a witness - hence justifying the ban on the niqab in
the court room - when there were judges who performed their functions while
being visually impaired. Moreover in some recent court hearings, security and
intelligence officers have been allowed to be cross-examined from behind a
curtain so as to protect their identity.
Murad, Secretary General of the MCB, noted that anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant
feeling was rising in times of economic difficulty and called for effective
work to ensure recording of Islamophobic incidents.
Bhayat, an activist in Cage Prisoners, provided facts and figures on
Schedule 7, the law relating to Stop and Search powers at ports and
airports - 79% per cent of those detained were non-white and according to
a whistle blower, officers were instructed to "stop people with
Arabic sounding names" .
speakers at the event included Shazia Arshad, an organiser
of the month's programme, and Muhammad Kozbar from Finsbury Park Mosque. In his
concluding remarks the host, Jeremy Corbyn MP, endorsed the views
expressed from the floor by AbdoolKarim Vakil, chair of MCB's Research &
Documentation Committee, that there was need for political will and political
commitment if Islamophobia was to be effectively tackled.
[Photo Montage by William Barylo, The Cordoba Foundation]