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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Is Islamophobia affecting the UK?
Muslim at prayer
Persistent and untackled Islamophobia could lead to a time-bomb of resentment and backlash according to a major UK think tank.

The Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia says that since the 11 September attacks communities have experienced greater hostility, including increased attacks against individuals and mosques.

Public bodies were also criticised for failing to address institutional Islamophobia.

However, the think tank said that schools and hospitals had become much more sensitive to the religious needs of Muslims.

Has the government done enough to reduce Islamophobia? Have you been affected? Send us your comments.

This debate is now closed. Here are some of your comments:

This topic was suggested by Bilal Patel, London:
What steps would you take to tackle Islamophobia?

If everyone had the decency to keep their religious beliefs to themselves the world would be a happier and more civilised place.
Dennis Smith, London

I do not hate or lack respect for Muslim individuals but as a society or culture the Islamic community needs to do more to integrate into western and British life. Enclosed communities only lead to ignorance, and as ugly groups like the BNP are using to their advantage, it's easy to hate someone you don't know. Islamic groups and leaders also need to be more forthcoming in condemning terrorist acts and individuals, the apologetic tone often heard often sounds like a defence.
Gavin D, Manchester, England

Muslims have to understand that they live in a Christian country and if they wish to be accepted they need to be more flexible themselves and not expect everyone to bend over backwards to accommodate them.
Stephen, GB

At the moment the only way to hear the many Muslim voices speaking in favour of peace and integration in the UK is the Muslim press. Try picking up a copy of the magazine Q-News (Britain's foremost British Muslim magazine) or the magazine Islamica. Next time you are around the Baker Street area in London try finding the handful of Islamic bookshops in the area and pick up a copy of the many publications by Muslims condemning September 11 and terrorism. These books discuss these issues not just from a moral viewpoint but also challenge the religious justification used by the terrorists.
N. Khan, London

Islam is a kind religion
Saara, Leicester
I am a Muslim working mother and at my place of work the key words are 'information and sensitivity'. We discuss religious issues openly and without any assumptions. The important issue is that education. Ignorant people make wrong assumptions and the media is partly to blame. Islam is a kind religion and not the oppressive hostile one as portrayed in the media.
Saara, Leicester

It's about time that people started treating themselves as British first and foremost. Then put religions into second or lower ranking. I have travelled to Muslim countries and when there I respect their customs and religion. The same should apply to Muslims in Britain.
Ian Armstrong, Taunton, UK

I heard recently that an organisation banned its employees from displaying the St George's flag on their cars for fear of 'offending minorities'. It is precisely this sort of action that breeds hatred. I, as a Muslim, am not offended by this. And I doubt if any Muslim, or any other member of a minority group is offended by it. So why should a message be sent out that the minorities will be offended?
Afsar, Leeds

Has the government done enough - I don't think so, but then neither has the Muslim community. I am a recent convert who is marrying a Muslim later on this year. My greatest concern is coming under suspicion or being targeted by various groups to promote their own agenda. The media does seem to show more attention to westernised converts or young Muslims whom they think are potential terrorists. This is what I fear being on the receiving end of in this country. So to that end I am planning on moving abroad with my wife to another country that is a bit more enlightened, and will leave me and my family alone in peace.
Rob, London, UK

Those who can should fight this small minded ignorance daily
John, Bloomfield, New Jersey, USA
I witnessed the events of September 11th first hand (my office is across the Hudson River from where the Twin Towers used to be) and since that time I have to constantly guard myself against prejudice against Muslims and it is not easy even though I was raised to treat all people equally. My wife is Iranian (not Muslim) and certainly has felt prejudice first-hand, first as a minority in her homeland where Islamic fundamentalism is now a way of life and also more recently as an American of Middle Eastern descent. She reminds me constantly of the many kind and good Muslim friends that we do have whenever I make any generalisations or express my frustration over what is happening in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East. I expect that those who don't have the advantage I have of a wise companion are more likely to give in to their anger, fear, and frustration these days. Those who can should fight this small minded ignorance daily.
John, Bloomfield, New Jersey, USA

It seems we are now living in a country where any criticism of Islam is instantly shot down with cries of "racism" and "political incorrectness". I think that is what makes people resentful. If someone criticises Islam then they should be countered with logic and reason (if possible), not simply told "You can't say that!"
Neil, Edinburgh, Scotland

Islam has got to move into the 21st century, abandon concepts such as "jihad", "fatwah" and "honour killings" and secularise itself, before there can be any real hope of assimilation into British society. It can be done. Look at Turkey.
Roger Matthews, Segovia, Spain

Funny how a Christian minister peacefully protesting against the gay lifestyle was arrested for causing a breach of the peace yet Abu Hamza is free to spout his vitriolic anti-Britain rhetoric while the police stand by and protect him. In the fact of such blatant discrimination it is surprising there is not more Islamophobia.
John B, UK

The politicians are responsible for the rise of Islamaphobia
Tahir Lone, Surbiton
When the IRA carried out attacks on British soil, were they referred to as Christian extremists? Al-qaeda militants are terrorists yet they are referred to as Muslim Terrorists and under Islam they are not Muslims. So in my opinion, the politicians are responsible for the rise of Islamaphobia who have decided to wave the crusader flag and openly referring to Muslims as terrorists.
Tahir Lone, Surbiton

I see and hear lots of politicians and Mohammedan priests saying "It's not a war between Islam and the west". But you know the old saying "If it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck and it sounds like a duck, it's probably a duck"
John B, St Helens UK

The fact of the matter is that Britain is a predominantly Christian country. Should Muslims expect greater tolerance of their religion than is shown to non-Muslims in Muslim countries?
Hugh, UK

Banning religious schools would be a good start
Andrew, London, UK
The fault is on both sides - Muslims need to participate in British cultural activities and the British need to make them more welcome. Banning religious schools would be a good start, since they only promote separateness from an early age.
Andrew, London, UK

When I hear of Muslim clerics, who are British citizens, preaching hate against Western values, and when I hear of British citizens leaving the country to train in techniques to destabilise my way of life, I think I am entitled to feel a tad Islamophobic. I have no axe to grind on this, and I am related by marriage to a number of Muslims, all of whom I love dearly; but the problems will persist until we can all agree that an attack by Western powers on Eastern states is not the same as an attack on Islam, and an attack by Eastern extremists on the West is driven by personal feelings and not Islam. Educate by all means, and legislate if you must, but ensure that it is even-handed.
Al, Skipton

The report focuses unfairly on the increase in stop and search of 'Muslims' by the MPS. I am quite sure that the increase is on Asians as a whole rather than singling out Muslims. During the early 90's and the increase in IRA activity, I was a police officer in central London and at night you were more likely to be stopped and searched if you were white and driving a van or a lorry. It is not a race thing but simple security procedure. At the moment the threat is from Al-Qaeda, so that is where the emphasis is. The threat is to all residents of this country something that I am sure most members of the Muslim community recognise.
Ex Met Officer, Hampshire, UK

To be honest I don't think broad statements like this from self-appointed "think tanks" help. If we want everyone to treat each other as normal then we have to show them that we are no different, fundamentally, than them. Continually raising a siege mentality and defending the unacceptable who happen to share a religion with us doesn't help.
Asif Iqbal, Motherwell, UK

These extremist voices do not represent mainstream Islam
Colin Wright, UK
What the Muslims in the UK can do to fight Islamophobia is to speak out more against extreme voices in their own communities. What the rest of us can do is to remind ourselves that these extremist voices do not represent mainstream Islam any more than racist far right neo-Nazi Christian groups in the US represent mainstream Christianity or the views of the repulsive BNP represent the views of most British people.
Colin Wright, UK

Islamophobia has always been in Britain. September 11 just took Islamophobia, put it into gear and the media have fuelled the flames. People are scared of what they do not know and what they do not understand. Islamophobia will always be here. The UK will always be affected...
Ishtiaq Razzak, Dundee

Islamophobia is not helped when pictures of the Union Flag being burned and "Death to the West" chants are shown. They should get their own house in order before condemning the UK as being Islamophobic.
Kevin Miller, Warrington, Cheshire

Certainly there is mistrust and to some extent hostility. However it is not helped by Muslims calling a mosque in Birmingham The Saddam Hussain Mosque, only recently have they agreed to change the name following his capture.
John, Birmingham

Society must understand that there are different levels of Islam
Qamar, UK
As an educated UK Muslim, I can see this is an issue that has two sides. One is that my community should and must do more to integrate itself into the UK culture and understand everyday people's fears and not put everything down automatically to prejudice and racism. The other side is that society must understand that there are different levels of Islam and not treat all Muslims as if they are thick and stupid. With reports like this, business people will be very reluctant to employ a Muslim. A report like this is counterproductive, for it makes people more fearful and suspicious. We are all British please remember that.
Qamar, UK

I don't feel the government has done anything to show a balanced view of Islam. We hear about Muslims being arrested on charges of supposed 'terrorism', where the vast majority are acquitted, but we don't hear about the acquittals. In addition to this, any programmes that are broadcasted about Islam are given slots just pre-midnight...most people are asleep by then!! Do I need to say more?
Usman, London

Why should the government have to do anything about this? It is the responsibility of the Islamic community to ensure that they are not seen to align themselves with fundamentalists and extremists. At some stage we must all take responsibility for our actions. It is all too easy to say that the government should do more, but when they try to do anything some rights campaigners come out and complain.
Vincent, London

Debates about religion should be calm and measured
Roger Hart, Deal, UK
Regrettably, Islam is now associated with race, and some of the blame must lie at the feet of Muslim organisations. I recently heard some verses of the Koran being quoted in a party political broadcast by the BNP. This sets a dangerous precedent. Debates about religion should be calm and measured; appeals to emotion will only inflame the feelings of those who have a limited understanding of the arguments. I fear the Runnymede Trust's report, in perpetuating the religion/race link, may have inadvertently given a weapon to racists.
Roger Hart, Deal, UK

The problem is the lack of education about what Islam is. In my opinion the government has done little to help in terms of education and reining in the media who should also shoulder a good part of the blame of this surge of Islamophobia.
Nicola, London, UK

I think if everyone is honest, September 11th made everyone sit up and think but it's not just one-sided. It takes every community to stand up and work at putting things right before we have lots of street fights etc breaking out. Because if nothing is done things, in my opinion, will get out of hand.
Sue, UK

Islamophobia: Ask the experts
03 Sep 03  |  Have Your Say


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