Challenging Racism: Challenging Islamophobia

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2007 National Black Members' Conference
21 September 2006
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that data from the census reveals that Muslim communities face disproportionate disadvantage compared to other groups: the highest rate of unemployment, the poorest health, and the highest levels of disability. This was confirmed in TUC’s 2005 report which highlighted that 69% of Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities live below the poverty line.

Research by the Greater London Authority has also shown that people of Asian and Arab descent are up to 11 times more likely to be attacked than a white person.

Since September 11th there has been a marked rise in anti-Muslim racism, compounded by the 7th July bombings. In the days after the first attack there was a 600% increase in incidents against the Muslim community, including the murder of Kamal Raza Butt in Nottingham. Other communities were also targeted – and included attacks on the Sikh and Hindu community and a general rise in racism which affects all black communities.

Chief Superintendent Ali Dizaei recently stated that the co-operation of the Muslim community is a necessary component in the fight against terrorism, but has expressed concerns that the notion of passenger profiling could lead to an offence of “travelling whilst Asian”. This summer those fears were realized as two Asian students were thrown off a Monarch flight after passengers were scared for their safety. The two men had done nothing wrong.

Under anti-terrorism measures, stop and searches on Asians in the 18 months after September 11 increased by 302% and for African-Caribbean’s by 230%. Research from across Europe also documents invasive raids on mosques and mass identity checks of black people producing no chargeable suspects.

Conference believes that elements of the media have also been attempting to isolate Muslims by suggesting a “clash of civilisations” between Islam and the West. On a European level, the banning of the hijab continues to be extended in different forms, most recently in parts of Germany and Holland with no regard for the right of Muslim women to choose.

This climate is galvanising the fascist British National Party (BNP), who spread hatred against Islam. The BNP have deemed Islam a “wicked, vicious faith”, and in doing so, gained the largest vote for a far right party in British history in the recent May elections, when they called the local elections a “referendum on Islam”. The BNP is thriving in a climate where Islamophobia is increasing, which is having an overall impact on the rise of racism. Sadly, instead of challenging this, some policy makers are blaming the black communities for our oppression, by stating that communities are failing to integrate. Instead of promoting the positive benefits of multiculturalism, a false agenda around the need to “integrate” is being set. This framework led to the ban of the hijab in France, which was then used by the far right fascist party there to go on the offensive.

The series of comments by MP’s such as Jack Straw and Phil Woolas on the nijab and muslims gave a green light to media to initiate a vitriolic campaign against the Muslim community which led to racist attacks.

Conference asks that the National Black Members’ Committee (NBMC) seek to:

1. work with the National Executive Council (NEC) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Race Relations Committee to support the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and British Muslim Initiative to oppose Islamophobia as a


2. work with the broader anti-racist movement such as the National assembly Against Racism and anti facist movements such as Unite Against Facism to ensure opposing Islamophobia is taken up in anti-racist activities in the workplace;

3. work with the NEC and the TUC Race Relations Committee to actively campaign against the threat of the fascist BNP;

4. get a commitment from the NEC to welcome and promote the joint work between the MCB and TUC to tackle Islamophobia;

5. work with the NEC to develop challenging Islamophobia initiatives with UNISON; with National Union of Journalists to challenge the media reporting issue affecting the Muslim community.