There is no doubt that we need a clear definition of anti-Muslim hatred. Having set up Tell MAMA – an organisation monitoring attacks on Muslims – in 2011, I have seen anti-Muslim hate jump in the years since.
Fear within Muslim communities has risen as mosques, people and Islamic institutions have been targeted. Together with a corresponding rise in far-right extremist groups, a series of Islamist extremist attacks and the wild west of social media, it can be a difficult time to be a Muslim in Britain.This is why I welcome the government’s call for a working definition of Islamophobia that can find a middle ground between anti-Muslim bigotry, legitimate criticism of religions (such as Islam) and the right to dissent from believing in any element of faith. I dislike the word Islamophobia as it gives an impression to people that Islam needs some form of special defence. It doesn’t. I don’t care whether people like or dislike Islam. But I do care whether Muslims are discriminated against – or attacked – for being Muslim, whether on our streets or online.
The current APPG on British Muslims definition was recently highlighted in an article for The Spectator by Hardeep Singh. He rightly points out that a hate crime is one in which the victim has been targeted because of their identity.
So why has intra-Muslim hatred – which is still anti-Muslim hatred, after all – been left out of this definition? Who exactly defines who is a Muslim and who is not a Muslim? Who decided that anti-Muslim hatred is based on hatred by non-Muslims against Muslims, as if intra-Muslim hatred does not take place and has to be consigned to the ‘other’ label of ‘sectarianism’?
The British Muslim Ahmadi community makes up some 40,000 people in a total Muslim population in the UK of over three million.