U.K. Organizations Take Steps To Fight Islamophobia

| by Diana Kruzman
The London Central MosqueThe London Central Mosque

As Islamophobia in the U.K. increases, several organizations are taking steps to fight hate crimes against Muslims and increase public awareness of the issue.

Police in London saw Islamophobic offenses rise by 60 percent since 2014. Tell MAMA, a British anti-Islamophobia organization, counted 2,500 such incidents in the whole country, according to TIME.

Islamophobic attacks rose steeply after the attacks on Paris in November, according to BBC. Organizations aiming to fight the rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment have had mixed responses to these figures, with some attempting to increase education and others taking a more satirical approach.

The U.K.-based Islamic Human Rights Council is tackling the issue by establishing the Islamophobia Awards, meant to mock public figures who have displayed the most anti-Muslim attitudes in the past year.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump took home the “Islamophobe of the Year” award for his inflammatory comments against Muslims, and the group hopes this will serve as a wake-up call to take more stringent action to address Islamophobic crimes.

“It is important for you to enjoy yourselves as we make a serious point,” said Massoud Shadjareh, the director of IHRC. “We are allowing this environment of hate to exist … Where it is becoming socially acceptable to say those things about Muslims.”

However, other organizations believe in a policy-oriented approach. Fiyaz Mughal, founder and head of Tell MAMA, said the Islamophobia Awards “trivialize” the serious crimes taking place against Muslims every day.

“Some people may not like what the Prime Minister does, but this is not the way to deal with it,” Mughal said, according to TIME. “These are senior political members of our country and our job is to lobby them, our job is to speak to them and give them the facts and hopefully build better, cohesive societies. Our job is not to mock them and by doing so create a ‘them and us.’”

Some groups, such as the Muslim Council of Britain, believe educating non-Muslims about Islam is the best way to decrease hate crimes, which are mostly driven by ignorance and fear of the unknown.

Miqdaad Versi, spokesperson for the MCB, said positive, high-profile campaigns, such as MCB’s “Visit my Mosque Day”, which allowed Muslims to “explain their faith and community beyond the hostile headlines," foster social acceptance among different communities.

Sources: TIME, BBC / Photo credit: Loz Pycock/Flickr

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