By Muhammad Mussa
LONDON (AA) - Britain’s Labour party has formally adopted the full working definition of Islamophobia, arguing it is a vital step in fighting the rise of far-right extremism in the U.K.
The national executive committee adopted the working definition Wednesday as produced by the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims last year in a move “to help tackle Islamophobia, build a common understanding of its causes and consequences, and express solidarity with Muslim communities.”
The move by the U.K.’s main opposition party to adopt the definition follows the publication of a public letter signed by more than a hundred Islamic institutions, Muslim public figures, and MPs calling on all political parties to adopt the definition.
“This could not be more urgent, while Islamophobia has been rising in our society and across the world, and support for the far right and their extremist white supremacist views is growing,” said Naz Shah, Labour MP and signatory to the letter.
“Instead of challenging and campaigning against this hate-filled prejudice, many politicians have actively fuelled it, from the Conservatives’ overtly Islamophobic campaign against Sadiq Khan becoming mayor in 2016 to [former Foreign Secretary] Boris Johnson’s vile comments about Muslim women,” she added.
Last year Johnson compared women who wear Islamic garb to “bank robbers and letter boxes.” His comments received a national outcry but after an internal party investigation, he was found to have done no wrongdoing.
The Liberal Democrat party has also adopted the working definition. However, the ruling Conservative party has refrained from adopting the definition, even after being embroiled in a scandal that has seen many of its members and MPs openly make Islamophobic statements.
The Muslim Council of Britain, the U.K.’s largest Muslim body, has written many times to the Conservative party urging the leadership to tackle the issue of Islamophobia within the party and conduct investigations into those Tories accused of Islamophobia.
Tory party members and councillors have been found to have made Islamophobic comments online, with some calling for the bombing of mosques and others making racist comments about London Mayor Khan and Tory Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
The last three years have seen a sharp rise in Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime in the UK, with a record number of attacks on Muslims 2017. In 2018 there were over 1,200 reports of Islamophobic attacks, a 26 percent surge from the previous year.
Islamophobic incidents have risen significantly due to a number of factors such as Brexit and the proliferation of far-right groups manipulating peoples’ misconceptions on immigration and faith.