On Wednesday 3rd March 2010, I was invited to give an ‘expert witness’ statement at a Parliamentary meeting to discuss the creation of an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Islamophobia . APPGs include members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords from across all of the political parties who meet together to discuss a particular issue of concern. They tend to focus most on the governing party’s priorities, discussing new developments and inviting Government Ministers to speak at their meetings. APPGs have no formal place in the legislature but are an effective way of bringing together parliamentarians and other interested parties including academics, NGOs and campaign groups amongst others.
Below is a transcript of the statement I made at the meeting held in the Grand Committee Room, the House of Commons:
Why do we need an event that focuses on Islamophobia and religious discrimination when, as Alistair Campbell once famously remarked to Tony Blair, as a nation “We don’t do God”.
For a nation that doesn’t ‘do God’, reading or watching the news may suggest otherwise. A glance back at 2009 might remind you of a number of different stories that had a relevance to religion or belief:
The British National Party (BNP) run a European election campaign under the slogan “What would Jesus do?” culminating in them winning two seats in the European parliament after almost a decade of running openly anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim campaigns
Anjem Choudhury and his Islam4UK group campaigning against British troops returning from Afghanistan
Following an interview with the Portugese journalist Alexandra Lucas Coelho last Friday, my comments have been published as part of an article in the national Portugese newspaper, Publico: “Discriminação contra muçulmanos está a aumentar na Europa”.
To read the article – in Portugese – click here.
A ‘Google’ translation is pasted below. Warning, it’s not the best:
Discrimination against Muslims is increasing in Europe
The vote on minarets in Switzerland is only a sign. The political stage to the Internet, across Europe emerging expressions of fear or distrust of Muslims. There are indications that discrimination is increasing, say experts consulted by PUBLICO.