- 2008 National Black Members' Conference
- 15 September 2007
Conference notes that in a context of rising racism against all Black communities Muslims have been particularly singled out and targeted.
The largest project monitoring Islamophibia undertaken following the events of September 11 by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) in 2002 published the “Summary report on Islamophibia in the EU”. The report highlighted the regularity with which ordinary Muslims became targets for abusive and sometimes violent retaliatory incidents which consisted of verbal abuse; blaming all Muslims for terrorism; forcibly removing women’s hijabs; spitting on Muslims; calling children “Osama”; random assaults where Muslims have been hospitalized and on one occasion paralyzed.
The term ‘Islamophobia’ was used by Kofi Annan at a 2004 UN conference: “When the world is compelled to coin a new term to take account of increasingly widespread bigotry that is a sad and troubling development. Such is the case with Islamophobia.”
Conference believes that UNISON has many Muslim members affected by Islamophobia.
2007 has seen universities urged to spy on Muslim and ‘Asian looking’ students; Jack Straw’s comment that he asks Muslim women to remove their veil and the hysterical debate that followed, including physical attacks on Muslim women; while David Cameron described the fascist BNP and Muslim Council of Britain as ‘two sides of the same coin’; and government guidelines on school uniforms invited a ban certain items of Islamic dress.
The Muslim community as a whole has unfairly been the focus of debate on terrorism and national security with some claiming there is a ‘clash of civilisations’ between Islam and ‘western values’. This debate takes place against a backdrop of war and occupation in the Middle East. This racist climate fuels support for the fascist BNP and ultimately threatens all Black communities.
Conference instructs the National Black Members Committee (NBMC) to work with the National Executive Council (NEC) to:
1.Continue working with Muslim organisations, including the Muslim Council of Britain, and other anti-racist organisations on combating Islamophobia;
2.Support Muslim members in the workplace and defend the right to choose whether or not to wear religious dress;
3.Produce guidance on combating Islamophobia and disseminate this around branches and regions, using the web site and Black Action magazine;
4.Incorporate fighting Islamophobia and religious discrimination in UNISON’s Community Cohesion work, in order to raise awareness and promote mutual understanding among UNISON members and in workplaces.