Definition of Islamophobia

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:54 pm on 16th May 2019.

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Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry Independent, Broxtowe 2:54 pm, 16th May 2019

I will give way in a moment. The hon. Member for Ilford North rightly explained that the definition of racism—or the definition of race—is no longer about biology; it is about a social concept. It can be defined by that antagonism, but it is also now, in the modern world, about groups that share the same culture, the same history, the same language—it can even include social classes. It has moved on in its definition and it clearly embraces Muslims. I will quickly give way now, if I am allowed, Madam Deputy Speaker. [Interruption.] It seems the hon. Lady has changed her mind on intervening; no problem with that. So it is right, when we define Islamophobia in the way that we do, to say that it is a form of racism and it is rooted in racism.

The other point I wish to make is about phobia and why we describe Islamophobia in that way. Phobia is an irrational dislike and has many forms. It can be a dislike. It can also encompass fear and hatred. I mention one of the things our definition absolutely does and understands. Many others make the mistake of thinking that this growing problem in our society—this bigotry and prejudice that ranges from the everyday insults and offensive language aimed at individual Muslims right through to terrorist murders—is anti-Muslim hatred. The computer that churns out a higher insurance premium for somebody simply because they have Mohammed in their name does not hate Muslims. Indeed, the person who put the information in to churn out that nonsense probably does not hate Muslims either. So we must not fall into the trap of saying that it is anti-Muslim hatred.

This is a cracking report. It is based on evidence from the people who know and understand this. It has been accepted by dozens of their communities and by every political party, apart from the Conservative party. If it is good enough for Ruth Davidson, it is good enough for our Prime Minister.