Islamophobia Awareness Month: Everything You Need To Know

islamophobia

This November marks the tenth anniversary of the Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM) campaign. Founded in 2012 by a group of Muslim organisations, the unique campaign ‘aims to showcase the positive contributions of Muslims as well as raise awareness of Islamophobia in society.

Why Does It Matter?

Did you know that Muslims make up 4.4% of the UK population? Although a small amount, Muslims are recognised for their invaluable contributions across every thread of society. Despite this, Islam and Muslims are invariably targets of some of the worst hate crimes in the UK. In fact, in 2019, Alan Moses, the former chairman of IPSO, suggested: “I speak for myself, but I have a suspicion that [Muslims] are from time to time written about in a way that [newspapers] would simply not write about Jews or Roman Catholics”. 

Many other studies have addressed similar sentiments, including; A 2016 report conducted by Cambridge University stating that the mainstream media reporting on Muslim communities is a contributing factor against the rise of hostility towards Muslims in Britain. Professor Neil Chakraborti and Dr Stevie-Jade Hardy, from the University of Leicester, Centre of Hate Studies, say the ‘toxic climate’ surrounding the EU referendum debate has helped to encourage people to target those they regard as ‘different’ or ‘foreign’. A 2021 report conducted by the Centre of Media Monitoring, found 59% of all articles covering Muslim issues were shown in a negative light. Over a third of all articles that were reported had misrepresented or generalised Muslim stories. 

This is why IAM is important.

By getting involved, you allow yourself and others to recognise the positive contributions made by Muslims to society. What’s more, it allows campaigners and audiences to become a more inclusive society and tackle systematic discrimination. What’s more, it helps break down stereotypes and allows many of us to have conversations about things we would have otherwise steered away from. 

Image Credit: https://www.islamophobia-awareness.org/

#tacklingdenial

Every year IAM comes up with a theme to define the purpose of the campaign. This year their theme revolves around the idea of tackling denial. 

In other words, it’s about tackling the idea of people denying that Islamophobia exists. Denial of Islamophobia can be seen in both political and social spaces, which is why addressing such a matter is important. After all, if we are in denial of something, how can we successfully have a conversation about it? To open up an already  ‘shutdown’ conversation, IAM hopes to spread the word about tackling the great issue of denial when it comes to Islamophobia. 

What is Islamophobia?

Although the government has not officially defined Islamophobia, the APPG has defined it as the following:

Islamophobia is “rooted in racism, and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

APPG are not the only one that has attempted to define Islamophobia. According to Fear Inc (Center For American Progress), Islamophobia is, “An exaggerated, irrational fear, hatred and hostility towards Islam and Muslims perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination of Muslims from civic, social and political life.”

Image Credit: https://www.islamophobia-awareness.org/

Government Drops Works on Definition of Islamophobia

Recent news has shown that the government have constantly backed away from defining Islamophobia. In October 2017, Baroness Warsi (Conservative) asked the government for a definition of Islamophobia. At the time, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth replied, ‘The Government do not currently endorse a particular definition of Islamophobia. Previous attempts by others to define this term have not succeeded in attracting consensus or widespread acceptance.’

This lack of engagement has led many Muslims to believe that providing a definition is simply an afterthought. For many years, Labour MP Afzal Khan has written to those in charge asking to come up with an official definition of Islamophobia. Speaking to The Independent, he said, “Their lack of action since 2018, coupled with the damning allegations made by Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani, all show that they simply do not take the issue seriously.”

At the beginning of November 2022, the government made it clear that they plan to drop works on defining Islamophobia. For many Muslims around the UK, this caused great distress as it portrayed that the issue is not being taken seriously.

IAM Is The Solution

This is why campaigns such as IAM are extremely important for the UK’s Muslim community. With many supporters such as MCB, FootAnstey, IRU and Muslim Youth Helpline, this campaign will help in eradicating an already tarnished image of Islam and Muslims. 

How You Can Get Involved

There are so many ways to get involved. From attending events to becoming an official supporter, the campaign provides many ways to take part. To simplify things, here are five ways you can get involved this November:

Step 1 – Become an Official Supporter

Visit www.islamophobia-awareness.org/supporter and complete the form to become a supporter of the campaign. Encourage friends, family and colleagues to do the same!

Step 2 – Spread The Word on Social Media

Follow IAM on social media! Share their content, use their graphics, and use the hashtags #TacklingDenial, #IAM2022 and #10YearsOn. What’s more, go ahead and promote the campaign on your LinkedIn platform.

Step 3 – Attend a Partner Event

There are many events you can attend throughout November. From lectures at universities to programmes in your local mosque, the campaign has made sure there’s something for all of us. To find out more about their events, visit www.islamophobia-awareness.org/events/.

Step 4 – Publish a Positive Story

If you’re looking to get busy with the campaign, publishing stories to showcase positive contributions Muslims make around the UK might an interesting activity. You can also write informative pieces on Islam or emotive pieces on the impact Islamophobia has on lives. Whatever you choose, try to keep the narrative positive. 

Step 5 – Train Your Organisation

Book an Islamophobia Awareness workshop session by emailing us at info@islamophobia-awareness.org. If you want access to resources for the campaign you can download them now by visiting https://www.islamophobia-awareness.org/resources/.

Juber Ahmed
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Juber Ahmed is our Digital Editor and travel enthusiast with a keen interest in Islamic history and heritage. He travels with his wife to various places around the world and writes about his experiences.
 
Juber's favourite Quote...
"The World Is a Book and Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only One Page" [Saint Augustine]
Tags: awareness, british muslim, british muslim magazine, denial, government, islam, islamophobia, muslims, social media

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