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