Definition of Islamophobia

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:42 pm on 16th May 2019.

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Photo of Khalid Mahmood Khalid Mahmood Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) (Europe) 1:42 pm, 16th May 2019

It is a pleasure to follow Sir John Hayes, with whom I worked during his time as Security Minister. I would like to start by condemning the acts in Christchurch, New Zealand and in Sri Lanka.

I have been on the receiving end of hate mail and actions from both the far right and from the Islamist community. I have taken my job seriously since 2001 and I continue to do so. I am proud to be a British Pakistani Muslim Member of Parliament. I was elected in 2001 for Birmingham, Perry Barr, as the first Muslim to be elected to this Parliament from England. My great-grandfather and his brothers and cousins served in the British merchant navy in the first world war. My grandfather and his brothers and cousins served in the British merchant navy in the second world war. My maternal great-grandfather served in the British Indian Army in the second world war. I am proud of my roots and my heritage. I will take no lessons from anybody who tells me that I am Islamophobic or that I am too much of a Muslim. I am what I am, and I continue to be proud of that heritage. I am proud to be a member of the Labour party, because of its ideals in fighting against antisemitism, Muslim hatred, race hatred and LGBT hatred. I believe in equality and justice for all. That is why I am a Member of Parliament for the Labour party.

My objection to the report on Islamophobia by the all-party group on British Muslims is principled, and I will outline it later in my contribution. It is because of my long-held belief and the work I have done since 2011 that I oppose the report, and I will go deeper into that. That does not deflect from criticism of any political party that does not take Muslim hatred seriously. All political parties are accountable for hatred by any individual, particularly Muslim hatred. Therefore, all parties and all of their members—elected or not—should be held to account on that basis.

The foreword of the report is by Mr Grieve, who is highly esteemed and highly respected, I think, on both sides of the House. However, I do take slight issue when he says that

“Islamophobia was playing a major role in undermining integration and community cohesion.”

I have been looking at the issue of integration since 2001. The big problem with integration has predominantly been, from the 1980s and before, the way the Government fund communities. They fund communities to stay in isolation. They have funded the Sikh community, the Hindu community, the Afro-Caribbean community and the Churches community, and everybody is always divided, competing against each other for the bit of funding they get for community recognition. Whatever the issues are, I think they lie with all the communities, but not all communities are subject to Islamophobia in relation to integration.