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All Muslim civil society groups have placed tackling Islamophobia, anti-Muslim hate crimes and discriminatory legislation and policies on top of their calls for action from the next Government.

But what are the politicians saying as they seek to convince Muslim voters?

Labour: Ensure hate crimes are properly recorded, including incidents of Islamophobia, as is currently done with other types of crime. We will take a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime, such as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. We will challenge prejudice before it grows, whether in schools, universities or on social media. We will review police and CPS guidance to ensure anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other hate crimes on social media are adequately covered. And we will challenge social media companies to take more responsibility to prevent harassment and hate crimes prosecuted through their sites.

 Conservative: We will review the legislation governing hate crimes.

Liberal Democrats: Work closely with faith and community organisations, such as the Community Security Trust (which works to protect the Jewish community against antisemitic attacks) and the Muslim Council of Britain, to prevent hate crime, including at places of worship like synagogues and mosques. We are determined to combat antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate in the UK and internationally. Work with religious and community leaders, civil society groups and social media sites to counter the narratives put forward by extremists, and create the space for the expression of contrary viewpoints and religious interpretations.

 Comment

It seems the Labour Party is more alert to the growing xenophobia, with its Leader Ed Miliband recently pledging at the Muslim News Awards ceremony that if elected, his government would introduce a programme to combat Islamophobia in schools. It is reported (14th April) that the Party’s BME manifesto includes a commitment to record Islamophobia as a separate hate crime.

The Tories have pledged action on Islamophobia recording: ‘a future Conservative Government would require the police to record anti-Muslim incidents as well as anti-Semitic incidents’ [Home Secretary Theresa May in Parliament, 23rd March 2015.] However, there may have been some internal debate about this promise, because the sentence is present in one reported version of a  speech delivered the same day at the Foundation for Peace, but  missing in the official version of  ‘A stronger Britain, Built on our values‘.

In an interview with The Muslim News, its leader Nick Clegg has pledged to review what the Muslim community views as discriminatory anti-terrorism policies, notable Prevent. Clegg notes, ‘As Leader of Liberal Democrats, I am committed to see a review take place early in the next Parliament so that we can try and involve everybody to make sure the Prevent programme does what it always was intended to do’. The Lib Dems have  promised to tackle discrimination in employment, calling for name blind job application forms to reduce sex and race discrimination. click here.

UKIP’s leader Farage is on record stating, ‘ race and other anti-discrimination legislation should be abolished’. click here.  In an interview with Trevor Philips he said, ‘ I think perhaps one of the reasons the polls show an increasing level of concern is because people do see a fifth column living within our country, who hate us and want to kill us’ – suggesting the danger of the Muslim presence. The UKIP parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, one Magnus Nielsen, has called for mosques and imams to be ‘licensed’!

For a dossier on recent Islamophobic incidents click here.

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