“Most damning…is the realisation that Islamophobia – the very issue that the APPG was set up to consider – was completely removed from the frame within which all of the participants – commentators, iENGAGE and Parliamentarians – operated within. Islamophobia was lost. All overlooked or sidelined any focus on Islamophobia, some in preference of pursuing their own individual, organisational, political or other agendas, causes and campaigns. In truth, since its launch in November 2010 the APPG on Islamophobia has been little more than a sideshow: an unhelpful, unwanted and unnecessary distraction from giving Islamophobia the rightful, timely and necessary attention it so desperately needs. There can be no doubt whatsoever that the credibility of the APPG has been damaged.”

The above is a direct quote from the independent report that I was asked to compile for the All Party ParliamentaryGroup (APPG) on Islamophobia on behalf of its Co-Chairs (Simon Hughes, Jack Straw and Sir Peter Bottomley).

Following the decision last night by the members of the APPG to end iENGAGE’s stay as Secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Islamophobia, I am making available the report available. You can download a version by clicking here.

To try and ensure that there is no misunderstanding about the reasons for producing the report, its remit or how it was pulled together, I’m reproducing the foreword from the report below:

Towards the end of June 2011, I was approached by Simon Hughes MP on behalf of the Co-Chairs of the APPG. Part of this approach was to request that I produce a report which gives my “objective view” on the unfolding situation surrounding the APPG and its Secretariat. As part of this, I was also asked to consider “what criteria a group should meet if it is to be the secretariat of an organisation” and “how [the APPG] should move forward in the future”. It was agreed at the time that were I to take up this request, any ensuing report would be a “public document”.

This report is my response to this request: to set out my “objective view” of the unfolding events.

The report was researched and written in an extremely short time-frame, given the demands of the APPG and my own work-load. The entire process was undertaken in less than a week. As a result, I was only able to draw upon resources and information that were available in the public spaces or that were supplied to me by the APPG. Having stated this, I do not believe that this was entirely detrimental as the unfolding series of events had largely been played out in public spaces, in particular the media, internet and ‘blogosphere’.

However, it is possible that some gaps will exist and I duly acknowledge this from the outset.

There is also some anecdotal evidence – both personal and other – of ‘cloak and daggers’ activity having occurred, both in the run-up to the formation of the APPG and indeed since. I have tried – where possible – to refrain from conjecture and speculation and focus only on those issues that can be evidenced and identified in the public spaces albeit with the explicit understanding that other events have occurred ‘behind closed doors’.

On this point and indeed having written the report, I realise the complex and contentious nature of the issues and events that I have been asked to consider. Having researched Islamophobia and various associated issues for more than a decade now, I am fully aware of the consequences and backlashes that can – and probably will – ensue as a result of some of my findings and analyses. In spite of this, I took up the challenge as I remain firmly committed to encouraging informed and balanced discussion and debate about Islamophobia. There need is very real. I therefore support the APPG in the hope that it will be able to navigate the discussions and debates in such a way that it is able to bring about the change that is needed.

It is essential however that I maintain my independence and autonomy. I am non-partisan and non-party political and have received no remuneration whatsoever from the APPG, any organisation or indeed any other source for undertaking this task either financially or in kind. I stress this to pre-empt future criticisms.

I reiterate therefore that the findings of this report reflect my own opinions and analyses without prejudice or favour.

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13 thoughts on “Independent report to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia

  1. You say “…. remain firmly committed to encouraging informed and balanced discussion and debate about Islamophobia.” Most admirable.

    Does that include the possibility that dislike and distrust of Islam (“Islamophobia”) is justified because of what Islam makes (many) of its followers believe do and say?

    See here for examples from (mostly) reliable and reputable news sources:

    http://libertyphilewhy.blogspot.com/2011/07/this-is-why-part-5.html

    1. I am committed to encouraging informed and balanced discussion…why wouldn’t I ??? Because I believe that Islamophobia exists does not equate to me being willing to shut down discussion or debate – or indeed criticism – whether that’s of me, my views or anyone else’s. I don’t have a problem with it despite what some would say abut me (who incidentally, have never met or known me…!!!), hence why I am prepared to put my views/ research/ opinions into the public spaces as and when I see fit. And to explicitly attribute my name to it also: I don’t hide behind pseudonyms or anything else !!!

      As for the examples you identify, I draw your attention to my comments about the fallout from the APPG and the ease with which debates can evolve into little more than mere ‘tit-for-tat’ public spats. Responding to a collection of a 100+ articles all of which are linked only because they involve Muslims and/ or Islam in a vast array of different guises and within different contextual frames is not – in my opinion – something that I have the time or desire to do. It would be – again in my opinion – pointless and a waste of my time because the articles are not ‘like-for-like’. I prefer to respond to very specific issues where my experience and knowledge can (hopefully) contribute something meaningful rather than merely suggesting that everything is either ‘ggod’ or ‘bad’. I prefer to consider the ‘grey areas’ where things are not so easy to understand…

      Chris

      1. Thank you for your response. Here is a very small selection of very specific issues:

        Halal

        The toleration of halal slaughter in the UK makes a mockery of democratic processes. A lot of people might not be too bothered, some may have strong feelings, but a regulation, a law, exists for a reason. What is the point of having it if a large part of the population can simply ignore it?

        I’m not too keen on the double yellow lines around where I live. When I need to I’m going to park on them in my road, never mind their purpose. And farmers and country people should have dispensation from the fox hunting ban.

        Sharia “Courts”

        Sharia “courts” are divisive encouraging further segregation. Muslim women are pressured to use a sharia system totally biased in favour of men in divorce, distribution of assets, financial support, and the custody of children. They are ignorant and kept ignorant of the fairer treatment that British mediation and court services would give them.

        There is growing evidence that these “courts” are involved in cases of domestic violence, a criminal matter, and are creating a system whereby Muslim men are treated with greater leniency than other males, and Muslim women are forced to live within violent husbands. According to the BBC a spokesperson for the Muslim Arbitration Tribunals headquarters claimed his organisation had held discussions with the CPS exploring “an alternative form of resolution” for domestic violence for Muslims in Britain.

        The men, and they are all men, who oversee these sharia courts are often uneducated foreign imams who have little understanding of Britain and wish to retain their power over Muslim communities by making them even more isolated. The head of the UK Islamic Sharia Council caused a public outcry recently saying rape cannot be committed within marriage.

        Politics

        Many Muslims believe Islam provides a complete political system. This is the killer app so to speak and the reason why Muslims are viewed with suspicion. A conscientious Christian might say that Christianity is the basis of his politics but when a Muslim says the equivalent an alarm bell goes off.

        Many, most even, in the West may be able mix their religion and their politics as Christians do. They want to bring a certain morality to politics, they don’t want to take it over. But we have examples all the time of Muslim figureheads and scholars extolling Islam as a comprehensive political solution.

        ====

        [This is extracted from a review of the recent book “Pointing the finger” edited by Julian Petley. See here:
        http://nottheappg.wordpress.com/the-media/pointing-the-finger/ ]

        I can understand you not wishing to work through that long list. I didn’t intend that you (or anyone) did. But it is worth dipping into. I wouldn’t dismiss it so lightly, ” … a vast array of different guises and within different contextual frames”. Lots of specific issues in other words, and on the main site you can select by topics. .

        LibertyPhile

      2. very quick, personal response to your issues: 1. because I have better things to do; 2. because I have no interest in merely batting things back and forth.

        Halal: I buy meat, I eat meat. Whilst wrong in some people’s eyes, I don’t question where or how it’s been killed.

        Sharia Courts: If the evidence is out there, I would support action being taken against these courts using the full range and scope of British judicial system to bring about an end to their activities. If you take the evidence to the police and seek to press charges, let me know and I will offer my unequivocal support.

        Politics: I believe that all people of all faiths and none have the right to hold whatever views they have, whether political or otherwise. I personally support the current British system albeit with some exceptions around changing the voting system to incorporate AV or PR.

        As I said, I am not an apologist for Islam or Muslims and so would suggest you ask the relevant experts and scholars about the intricacies of the debates you are personally interested in. where issues of particular interest arise for me, I will respond and make my views known accordingly.

        Btw, any chance you might name and identify yourself ???

        Chris

  2. Apologies, one more thing. I’m not an apologist for either Islam or Muslims and so offer no defence for either. I speak about my understanding of Islamophobia which I believe I clearly set out at the start of the APPG report…have a look and see what you think.

    Chris

  3. Last month your response to a disgraceful attack on the East London Mosque was not to rally to the defence of the ELM but to give credence to the accusations of homophobia made by the bigots behind the attack.

    And now you’ve happily provided scum like Robert Halfon and Hazel Blears with the ammunition they needed to remove Engage from their position as secretariat to the APPG on Islamophobia.

    You may be able to write intellectually impressive analyses of the subtle nuances of meaning contained in the term Islamophobia, but when it comes to making basic political judgments in response the actual operation of anti-Muslim bigotry in the real world you clearly don’t have a fucking clue.

  4. @wallscometumblingdown | July 20, 2011, 3:33 pm

    Halal: You ignore the point I make. Why should Muslims be allowed to opt out of national laws/regulations they don’t like?

    Sharia: Action is proposed. The evidence is out there. See the discussion of Baroness Cox’s Bill on Guardian CiF http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/jun/23/lady-cox-bill-sharia See various documents from “One Law for All”

    I mention these things because they are reasons why people “don’t like” Islam and thereby Muslims, and that is Islamophobia, in which I believe you are an expert. (I will have to buy your book, I suspect things like this are not even mentioned.)

    And, may I, with respect, suggest you should be studying them, even if you don’t have the time or inclination to discuss them with me.

    My real name is irrelevant.

  5. Libertyphile, its people like you who make people Islamaphobic. You are so argumentative and have it stuck in your head that the whole world is out to get the Muslims. Take a chill pill!

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