Tackling Islamophobia

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:09 pm on 7 December 2023.

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Photo of Liz Twist Liz Twist Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government) 3:09, 7 December 2023

I thank the hon. Member for that comment, and I did indeed hear those comments. What I would say is that, within the Labour party, we are seeking to address any issues that relate to Islamophobia.

We must remember that we have a choice in this House: to empower communities or to seek to divide them. Our words have consequences beyond this Chamber. It is deeply worrying that the normalisation of extremist language from the Conservative party has directly coincided with a rise in offences being reported. As political parties, we must, as I said, take responsibility for identifying and tackling Islamophobia in our own ranks. When people ask, “Well, what’s Labour doing about it?”, the answer is that that is what we are doing: we have changed our party, and we are ready to change the country. At our party conference in 2021, Labour passed a new independent complaints process to make it fairer and easier for people to bring forward cases of discrimination. We have adopted new codes of conduct on Islamophobia, and we have invested in training staff and publishing a handbook that will illustrate how our party can challenge Islamophobia directly. We have committed, when in government, to tackle structural racial inequalities with a landmark race equality Act.

We owe it to our Muslim communities and to communities of all faiths to do more to protect them from these forms of hate. The first step in tackling that hate is to identify it, so will the Minister commit today to adopting the APPG definition of Islamophobia? Will she also encourage Conservative-run local authorities to adopt it? Will she and her colleagues work with the police to ensure that victims of Islamophobic abuse feel able to report incidents and that they are supported and kept in the loop throughout the process? What steps will she take in her own Department to understand household and neighbourhood-related cases of Islamophobic abuse and to work with local authorities and Muslim communities to ensure that such cases are handled sensitively? Finally, what efforts are the Government making to understand and tackle Islamophobia in educational institutions and to eradicate ethnicity pay gaps?

We owe it to Muslim communities to tackle Islamophobia in our party and in wider society—on the streets of our country and online. We have committed to doing so, and I hope the Government will do the same.