UK MP warns of ‘explosion’ in unreported Islamophobia

LONDON: A senior politician has warned of an “explosion” of unreported Islamophobia in the UK.

Shadow Justice Secretary Shabana Mahmood said: “In my constituency, people report it to me but not the police. They kind of just put it down to the price you pay for being a Muslim in this country, (but) reporting is then what drives police policy, social policy and potential legislation. We all have a role to play.”

Mahmood was speaking at a panel discussion after a screening of the film “HIJABI” by award-winning documentary-maker Samir Mehanovic.

The film, released to coincide with International Women’s Day and International Day to Combat Islamophobia, documents the lives of five British women and their experiences with Islamophobia, including one forced to flee the UK after she was assaulted.

Mahmood said: “Islamophobia has passed the dinner party test — it’s seen as acceptable. This is not just a Muslim problem, it should be addressed by all of society.”

The UK has witnessed a 365 percent surge in anti-Muslim hate incidents since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
According to Tell Mama, an organization dedicated to fighting Islamophobia, 65 percent of all incidents target women, with those who wear a hijab or niqab especially vulnerable.

Afzal Khan, an MP with the main opposition Labour Party, told the panel: “With Islamophobic hate crime having trebled since October and senior members of the Conservative Party spouting Islamophobia through the media in recent weeks, there has never been a more pressing time to listen to the testimonies of visibly Muslim women in Britain.”

MP Lee Anderson, former deputy chair of the Conservatives, was suspended by the party last month for refusing to apologize for claiming that Islamists had “got control” of London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

A recent poll conducted by Hope Not Hate revealed that 58 percent of Conservative Party members believe Islam to be a threat to the British way of life.

A government spokesperson told The Independent: “British Muslim women make a huge contribution to the United Kingdom and in strengthening the ties that bind our country together.

“It is unacceptable for anyone to feel unsafe while practicing their religion and we take a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Muslim hatred.

“We expect the police to fully investigate all hate crimes and work with the Crown Prosecution Service to make sure the cowards who commit these abhorrent offences feel the full force of the law.”

Former Labour councillor Shaista Aziz, who resigned from the party over the leadership’s position on Israel’s ongoing military campaign in Gaza, told the panel: “When it comes to Islamophobia, there’s rightly lots of focus on the government and what they are doing and not doing. There’s no focus though on the man who wants to become the next leader of this country: Keir Starmer.

“Labour can talk about equalities until the cows come home. However, the proof is there: anti-Black racism, Islamophobia and a hierarchy of racism.” She added: “These things cannot be brushed under the carpet.”

A recent poll by the Labour Muslim Network reported that the party’s support within the UK’s Muslim community had dropped from 86 percent at the time of the last general election in 2019 to around 60 percent, with many citing Gaza as the reason.

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