Countering Islamophobia - Key National Messages for the UK

Countering Islamophobia Kit - Key National Messages

SACC has published a reprint of the paper "Counter Islamophobia Kit: Key National Messages - UK" by Arzu Merali, with a new preface (below) by Richard Haley:

The ‘Counter-Islamophobia Kit’ (CIK) is a ground-breaking project that contains key actionable messages to be conveyed to policy makers, national governments, professionals, civil society, the media and practitioners from across the EU. It was launched at the European Parliament in Brussels on 26 September 2018. Its Scottish launch came at a meeting in Glasgow on 28 March 2019, less than two weeks after the mass murder of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a far-right gunman. That act of racist terror illustrated what should in any case be clear - that Islamophobia is global, and that besides being socially and politically corrosive, it is deadly.

There is abundant evidence that Scotland has not been exempt from the global growth of Islamophobia. More than half of the Muslim children in Edinburgh interviewed in a survey by Samena Dean reported that they had encountered Islamophobia at school1. And at a meeting of the Scottish Parliament's Cross Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia on 20 March, Amina MWRC presented research showing that nearly two-thirds of Muslim women surveyed in Scotland had witnessed or experienced a hate incident or crime2.

The CIK project seeks to identify the dominant anti-Muslim narratives employed in Europe, and compares the use and efficacy of prevailing counter-narratives to Islamophobia across eight EU Member States (the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Portugal and Greece).

The project has been centrally informed by two key approaches to understanding Islamophobia3:

  1. Professor Salman Sayyid’s view that Islamophobia can be understood as more than simply an expression of hatred or fear, Islamophobia needs to be understood as an undermining of the ability of Muslims as Muslims, to project themselves into the future, and as a form of racism.
  2. the Domination Hate Model of Intercultural Relations developed by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, which conceptualises Islamophobia as the product of a series of interconnected and interlocking environments and most effectively captures the multi-dimensional complexity of these narratives.

A particular strength of the CIK is that it recognises the central role of the state in building Islamophobic narratives. As Arzu Merali says (page 7 of this booklet): “Securitization haunts every discourse regarding Muslims.”

Of the ten most dominant narratives of Islamophobia in the UK cited in the CIK, the first four might fairly be said to be wholly or largely outcomes of government policy. The corrosive influence of UK government policy can also be seen to varying degrees in the remainder of the top ten Islamophobic narratives.

Failure to sufficiently recognise the effect of Islamophobic government policies, and to strategise accordingly, has hamstrung efforts made to date to tackle Islamophobia in the UK. In recognising the problem, the CIK sets out a path towards tackling it that is both realistic and radical.

The Counter-Islamophobia Kit is built around 3 workstreams comprising a total of 16 country  reports, 2 comparative  reports, 1 legal and policy report and 8 Key National Messages reports, plus a briefing paper that provides an overview of the project. The paper reproduced in this booklet (Key National Messages - UK) is perhaps the one that people active in countering Islamophobia in the UK will find of most immediate value. The other two UK papers - Dominant Islamophobic Narratives - UK, and Dominant Counter-Narratives to Islamophobia - UK - are also of obvious relevance. But the political forces generating Islamophobia across Europe are intertwined, and so are our collective struggles against them. Any thoughtful anti-racist, wherever in the world they are based, will find much to repay their attention in every one of the papers that make up the CIK.

The papers can all be downloaded at https://cik.leeds.ac.uk/publications/

For copies of the SACC reprint, contact SACC

Copyright for the paper "Counter Islamophobia Kit: Key National Messages - UK" is held by the CIK Consortium. Reproduction in whole or in part of that text is allowed for research and educational purposes with appropriate citation and acknowledgement.

The paper was produced with the financial support of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Ms Arzu Merali and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.