What Is Islamophobia?
Islamophobia, as defined by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Islamophobia is “rooted in racism, and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”
Islamophobia can be roughly split into two parts and it is a bit like an iceberg, there is a smaller visible part that everyone can see but a much larger part under the water that is often invisible and more difficult to see. The visible part is verbal or physical attacks, people getting abused in the street or your mosque vandalised.
The much bigger hidden part includes discrimination, stereotyping marginalisation and exclusion. This is called structural Islamophobia.
Because it is built into the structures of our society.
It can take many forms. For example:-
● The CV that goes straight in the bin becuase of a Muslim sounding name
● The woman who loses her job because she wears the hijab
● The child who gets suspended from school for speaking up for Palestinian rights
● The newspapers headlines demonising Muslims for being terrorists, ’ child sex groomers’ and being anti-British.
These are just a few examples.
Structural Islamophobia is a problem deeply rooted in society.
But this is not to say that the visible part, hate crime, is not important too – let’s look at this in more depth.
Hate Crime has continued to increase year on year in the UK.
In the year ending March 2022, there were 155,841 hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales, a 26% increase compared with the previous year.
In the year ending March 2022, where the perceived religion of the victim was recorded, two in five (42%) of religious hate crime offenses were targeted against Muslims (3,459 offenses out of 8307 cases providing information on targeted religion hate crime).
Nearly half of all religious hate crime is directed at Muslims. Muslims are more likely to be the victim of religious hate crime than any other religious group. This highlights how Islamophobia continues to be an issue in society.
It’s important to look at the impact COVID had on Islamophobia. We all thought Islamophobia would disappear during COVID lockdowns, but instead, it adapted. It grew online.
Amid COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe, instances of in-person Islamophobia fell in some countries. But Islamophobia spread on social media, and instances of hate crimes online grew in many countries.
Religiously aggravated hate crimes increased by one-third compared to the same period in 2019. According to the Anadolu Agency European Islamophobia Report of 2022, Muslims are now 4 times more likely to experience hate crimes than those who identify as christians.
During the COVID pandemic, divisive media narratives that blamed and scapegoated Muslims for transmitting infection were widespread. On 26 June, The Telegraph ran an article headlined, “Exclusive: Half of UK’s imported Covid19 infections are from Pakistan.”
The Sun picked up the article the following day with an equally problematic headline “Half of UK imported coronavirus cases ‘originate from Pakistan’ amid calls for tougher checks on ‘high
These headlines were a clear case of information being misrepresented to imply that people from Pakistan were a major cause of COVID19 infection in the UK. In fact, according to Public Health England (PHE) data, the total number of cases was only 30, accounting for 0.01% of all cases.
This is a clear example of Islamophobia.
That is why this year’s Islamophobia Awareness Month theme is #tacklingdenial. It is important that both muslims and non-muslims understand the existence of denial, and how dangerous this can be.
We can see denial in many different spaces.
The IAM Campaign
Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM) is a campaign founded in 2012 by a group of Muslim organisations to raise awareness of Islamophobia. It aims to raise awareness of Islamophobia in society, as well as showcasing the positive contributions of Muslims in the UK.
Our vision is to see an Islamophobia Awareness Month campaign widely recognised and supported every year. We want to see a society that is understanding and inclusive, and free from all aspects of the spectrum of Islamophobia.
IAM aims to showcase the positive contributions Muslims make to society. For example:-
Sadiq Khan – Mayor of London
Mo Farah – Olympic athlete. He is an immigrant and was trafficked to UK as a child
Nadiya Hussein – Winner of the Great British Bake-Off
Mohammed Salah – Liverpool FC footballer. Research has shown the impact of Mohammed Salah reducing Islamophobia and negative attitudes towards Muslims.
These are but a few examples of some positive Muslim names in the UK.
Here are some simple ways we can support the IAM campaign today:-
1. Sign up to become a supporter on their website
2. Follow the IAM campaign on social media
3. Take it further! Take part in more training, hire the exhibition, or host your own event to raise awareness.
Take part in the conversation, be part of the solution.
(Source: This article is a copy of the 5 Minute Talk outline document on the IAM website and reproduced here for convenience.)
- The Dinner Table Prejudice: Islamophobia in Contemporary Britain
- HM Government Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group
- Islamophobia in the United Kingdom
- Defining Islamophobia: A Contemporary Understanding of How Expressions of Muslimness are Targeted
- Definition of Islamophobia by the APPG
- Islamophobic hate crime rising as UK government tries to ‘appease far-risght’: Head of Muslim group