Definition of Islamophobia — [Mrs Sheryll Murray in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:00 pm on 9th September 2021.

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Photo of Paul Bristow Paul Bristow Conservative, Peterborough 3:00 pm, 9th September 2021

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the definition of Islamophobia.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Murray, and I thank the Backbench Business Committee for permitting the debate. I introduce the debate as one of the co-chairs of the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims. It is a privilege to chair that APPG, and something that I take very seriously indeed. The year before I became a Member of Parliament in 2019, the APPG proposed a definition of Islamophobia. The group undertook widespread consultation with parliamentarians, experts, lawyers, community activists and victim-led organisations so that they could propose a working definition. This was a sincere attempt to give meaning to the word and the nature of what we call Islamophobia, and that definition has since been adopted by hundreds of different organisations and bodies. It was, and remains, a valuable piece of work.

During the 2019 Peterborough by-election, in which I came third, I canvassed a gentleman called Amir Suleman. He is, and was, a presenter on a local radio station, Salaam Radio, and he asked me what I thought about the APPG definition of Islamophobia and whether it should be adopted by the Government. Embarrassingly, I had very little to say to him, but I promised that if I were elected, I would become active on the issue. A general election and several tough interviews on Salaam Radio later, I have kept my promise, and Amir is my friend and a tremendous source of advice. I have a large Muslim population in my city and in my constituency, and I see day in, day out, the fantastic contribution Muslims make to life in Peterborough and throughout the whole of the UK.