Church leaders question new definition of Islamophobia

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A number have added their names to those from other religious organisations in an open letter to home secretary Sajid Javid.

 

The definition, which has been proposed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims is: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

It’s been adopted by the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats Federal board, Plaid Cymru and the Mayor of London and the government will soon decide whether to take it on board.

The main concern is whether those who criticise Islam could fall foul of the new definition.

The letter, which has been signed by former chaplain to the Queen Rt Rev Dr Gavin Ashenden and former Bishop of Rochester Rt Rev Michael Nazir Ali, states: “This vague and expansive definition is being taken on without an adequate scrutiny or proper consideration of its negative consequences for freedom of expression, and academic and journalistic freedom.

“The definition will also undermine social cohesion – fueling the very bigotry against Muslims which it is designed to prevent.

“We are concerned that allegations of Islamophobia will be, indeed already are being, used to effectively shield Islamic beliefs and even extremists from criticism, and that formalising this definition will result in it being employed effectively as something of a backdoor…

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