Sheffield Labour Councillors
Sheffield City Council has today signalled it’s intent to adopt the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia.
The APPG on British Muslims was established in 2017 to examine a broad range of issues that British Muslims care about and are affected by. Following two years of consultation, the group published a report titled ‘Islamophobia Defined: the inquiry into a working definition of Islamophobia’ which contained the following definition:
‘Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.’
The adoption of the definition aims to demonstrate the local authority’s commitment to supporting our Muslim community and to work with them to tackle Islamophobia.
As well as the working definition of Islamophobia, the Coalition Against Islamophobia (CAI) guidelines which demonstrate how Islamophobia is manifest in practice, was accepted by councillors.
Due to Sheffield’s Committee System of governance, the matter will now go to the Council’s Strategy and Resources committee for final approval. The working definition will also help inform the council’s on-going response to the Race Equality Commission report – aimed at tackling racism throughout the city.
This matter was brought forward by Cllr Abdul Khayum (Labour Councillor for Firth Park) who stated at the meeting:
“Islamophobia is manifested in so many other ways that can cause a range of emotional responses, including fear, anger and shock. It can cause mental and physical well-being issues such as problems sleeping, depression, anxiety and paranoia. Islamophobia is a hate crime and hate hurts and no-one should have to tolerate it.
“It is demonstrated in, and articulated through, speech, writing, behaviours, structures, legislation, or activities which embody hatred, vilification, stereotyping, abuse, discrimination or violence directed at Muslims.
“The Council is a major employer and service provider, therefore it is imperative that we have a clear uniformly accepted definition of Islamophobia across the organisation. Only then can the many different forms in which it is manifested be recognised, and effective robust strategies be developed to deal with it, whether that be in our Employment Practice, our Service Delivery or as part of the work that we do with many of our partners in the City.
“Sheffield Council needs to be leading on measures to ensure that Sheffield’s Muslim community is treated equally on the same footing as the rest of Sheffield’s communities.
Tasnim Zaki (MEND – Muslim Engagement and Development):
“Devising meaningful strategies to tackle Islamophobia begins with adopting the APPG definition on Islamophobia. By adopting this definition the council is also departing from the current narrative that Islamophobia is just physical assault and appreciating that in reality Islamophobia is pervasive and deeply rooted in different areas of public life.
“MEND is pleased to see that Sheffield council is taking active steps to promoting a more inclusive city, by setting precedent for other local stakeholders, such as schools, police, corporate and more that Muslim constituents are disproportionately affected and any form of Islamophobia is expressly not tolerated.”
Council Leader Terry Fox also welcomed todays endorsement by councillors:
“This is the first step to helping deal with the very real nature of Islamophobia and helps inform our on-going work in responding to the Race Equality Commission’s findings.
“Islamophobia is often misunderstood, ignored and even allowed to take place openly across society. We can’t shy away from that.
“The adoption of a definition will signal to Sheffield’s Muslim communities that there is a willingness to address Islamophobia and I hope it provides a framework to be used to identify prejudices that may be faced locally.
“As a council we must strive to build trust in communities, and ensure that we are doing everything we can to combat racism”