Muslims the world over have been facing tough times in countries where they are in a minority. Close on the heels of the sacking of a Muslim minister from the British government due to her ‘Muslimness’ comes another report on the growing Islamphobia in the UK. The report reveals Muslims face more discriminations than other religious and ethnic groups in Britain. The latest survey report, analysed by the University of Birmingham, has arrived at disturbing conclusions. It says Muslims are three times more likely to face prejudice than those from other religions. Over 25% of the Britishers have highly negative views on Muslims and their religion, and prejudice against Muslims is prevalent in the upper, upper middle class, lower classes, working class and even the ruling party. This demographic cuts across classes and groups that harbour hate and prejudice based on wrong interpretations of Islam.
The report indicates that hatred of Muslims in Britain seeps deeper, though it may be difficult to pinpoint the actual purveyors of hate and prejudice. Any broad analysis of the increasing prejudice against Muslims in Western countries should take into account both internal and external dynamics of the issue before pinning blame on governments and societies. Undoubtedly, vested interests are promoting a toxic narrative for their own narrow ends.
The report draws government attention to the need for regulating criticism of religion — through a combination of legislation and raising awareness about the dangers of harbouring religious prejudice. The government should also focus on building better bridges between communities, as religious, ethnic and other kinds of prejudices largely prevail due to misunderstanding and lack of interaction between groups and communities in multi-religious, multicultural and multilingual societies. An instance from an earlier report on Islamophobia in the British media is worth citing here. It reveals how rampant is Islamophobia in the UK media. Nine out of 10 slanderous stories against Muslims in the media were found false after investigations.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2022.