Leeds imam says Government failure to define Islamophobia ‘disappointing' amid Nusrat Ghani inquiry

A Leeds imam has urged the Government to take action in defining the term Islamophobia after the Prime Minister launched an inquiry into Nusrat Ghani’s claims over her sacking from her ministerial role.

By Vivian Iroanya
Monday, 24th January 2022, 7:01 pm

Qari Asim, chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (Minab), was appointed as an independent adviser in 2019 to provide expert advice on a definition of Islamophobia to the Government.

But Imam Asim, who is senior imam Makkah Masjid in Leeds, said that two-and-a-half years later no work has been done “because I am not given the resources or the terms of reference to undertake the work to define Islamophobia”.

He said the “lack of engagement from the Government on this issue is deeply disappointing and frustrating for the Muslim community”.

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Qari Asim is chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (Minab) and a senior imam at Makkah Masjid in Leeds

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This comes after Boris Johnson ordered a Cabinet Office investigation into Ms Ghani’s claim that she was told her ministerial exit was linked to her “Muslimness”.

Imam Asim said: “I’m pleased that an inquiry has been launched but I am really perplexed as to why the Government hasn’t taken the work of defining the term very seriously.”

He also proposed three steps to tackle the issue which consists of firstly “recognising that anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobia are real issues that affect millions of people in this country”.

Tory MP Nusrat Ghani who has accused a Government whip of telling her that she was sacked from her ministerial post because her Muslim faith was making colleagues uncomfortable (Photo: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament)

Imam Asim said: “Secondly, we need to define it as this will deter those who make casual and abuse remarks to the Muslim community. A definition is to protect people being targeted because of their faith.”

He said the third step was that people at the highest level “need to call out whenever they see anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobia”.

Imam Asim said if the allegations are proven to be right, “serious action should be taken against those who have made such remarks and have shown anti-Muslim prejudice against Nusrat Ghani”.

He said: “I hope this will also send a very strong message to the employers across the country that anti-Muslim sentiments will not be tolerated and they will be held accountable for their actions.

“I hope this will inspire many young people and women not to be held back because of their faith.”

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