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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:35 pm on 9th September 2021.

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Photo of Khalid Mahmood Khalid Mahmood Labour, Birmingham, Perry Barr 3:35 pm, 9th September 2021

Of course. I had not completed my list, but I am grateful to my hon. Friend for completing my list.

If Islamophobia is being suggested as a medical fear, then the term Islamophobia is acceptable. If not, as it seems, and the terminology is incorrectly used, then the correct term would be anti-Muslim hatred, racism or Muslim hatred, which clearly defines on the basis that that is something being done. The actual definition that has been put forward for Islamophobia encompasses any distinction, exclusion, restriction towards or against Muslims, that has

“the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social and cultural” and other fields.

As has been said, Muslims have been discriminated against by companies when they have Muslim-sounding names. The hon. Member for Peterborough, who led the debate, mentioned that and that is what we want to get away from. The only way we will get away from that, as with the Race Relations Act 1968, is to have definitions that are purely actionable in terms of Muslim hatred. That is what we want to look at and that is what we are here for.

We are not here to have a term for people to accept, with no real translatable meaning and which we cannot act upon. If we want to serve our constituents and tackle the issues of Muslim hatred that they go through, we should pin down the definition. We should make it clear that if people behave in such a way, somebody will call on their door and deal with it, and that if people do that through social media, somebody will look them up and call them to account. We want a definition that actually works, a definition that actually delivers for our people—not a definition that claims “a fear of”, because I never agreed with that definition.

We should push the Government—of course we should—to adopt that definition. My two learned colleagues, my hon. Friends the Members for Bradford East (Imran Hussain) and for Bolton South East (Yasmin Qureshi), have both been barristers. I am sure that if they were to look at this in far more detail they would find that a much more appropriate way of going forward and trying to resolve the issue. I do not know why my hon. Friend is shaking her head, because we want to have laws that enable us to prosecute people who have racist tendencies towards Muslims. That is what I want. I do not want excuses.