In November last year, the APPG on British Muslims in the United Kingdom proposed adopting a new definition of the term ‘Islamophobia’. A definition is certainly needed to address the concerning trend of hatred and violence against Muslims in British society – an issue that groups indicate has worsened, particularly following Islamist terrorist attacks. While the intention to protect Muslims against hate crimes is an important and necessary one, the definition has been rejected based on fears that it is too broad. In particular, a definition that focuses on hostility to Islam (by credence of the description ‘Islamophobia’) as opposed to hostility against people incorporates a concern that those who criticize aspects of Islam may be prosecuted or silenced.
This is an important concern that deserves attention. The Islamophobia definition seeks to address targeting expressions of Muslimness or ‘perceived Muslimness’, rather than bigotry against Muslim individuals themselves. The priority, surely, must be to tackle hatred directed against Muslims, not to prevent criticism of, or opposition to, any religion or belief system. Such criticism is necessary in any liberal society, and we have already seen it being regulated with recent rulings by the European Court of Human Rights that criticizing the Prophet Mohammed is ‘beyond the permissible limits of objective debate’.
Read the full article in Forbes