International Day to combat Islamophobia is an annual event that aims to raise awareness about the harmful impact of Islamophobia on Muslims. The day serves as a reminder of the importance of promoting inclusivity, respect, and tolerance toward Muslims around the world. This is an international observance designated by the UN, occurring annually in 140 countries worldwide to commemorate the terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
We spoke to Abdullah Saif from MEND about Islamophobia, its causes and how we can overcome it.
What is Islamophobia?
Islamophobia is the fear, hatred or prejudice towards Islam and Muslims. It is a form of discrimination that can lead to negative attitudes and actions toward Muslims, such as harassment, exclusion, and even violence. Islamophobia can also contribute to the marginalisation of Muslims, making it difficult to fully participate in society and access opportunities.
MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development) is a non-profit organisation that helps to empower and encourage British Muslims within local communities to be more active in media, politics, and society by instilling confidence, competence and awareness. MEND aims to work with Muslim and non-Muslim organisations to ensure that anti-Muslim prejudice is regarded just as socially unacceptable as antisemitism and other forms of racism and xenophobia.
What advice would you give to someone who has experienced Islamophobia?
“The first incident where anyone is a victim of any hate crime, especially Islamophobia, should contact the police and make sure that it is reported, you might think what is the police going to do, the person is gone now?”
“In the first instance, for you to have a log with the police that this incident happened, actually supports the case that we’re trying to push for more legislative protection as we provide the statistics and we push policy workers to work on the statistics out there and when they see that the trend is increasing in Islamophobic incidents, then it’s evident for there to be changes to protect the community.”
There’s also an organisation called the islamophobia response unit that every Muslim community needs to know about. Its sole purpose is to represent the victims of Islamophobia, a dedicated support worker will contact you and listen to your case and explain ways to readdress the issue for example employment issues. To report an incident click HERE.
What are the causes of Islamophobia?
“It’s caused by people who don’t like Islam, but when it comes to people who are indifferent and then grow an attitude of discrimination towards Islam those causes are because of the media. Media is massive and has helped shaped discrimination, not just islamophobia that people see like attacks or verbal attacks, but also discrimination that happens that people don’t necessarily see tangibly or experience tangibly but you know it happened, it’s obvious and the room can read it.”
What is the cure for Islamophobia?
“To be patient and patience is pushing back against it to the limits set by God, holding people to account, addressing our community, making sure that they have the courage to stand up.”
Are you changing the hearts and minds of people or their attitudes?
“As an organisation, we try to change attitudes, hearts, and minds about dawah, we focus on showcasing the best of British Muslims and showing the work Islam has had as a contributing force and a constructive force to society.”