Campaign launched to enshrine UN’s day to combat Islamophobia into UK law

The Aziz Foundation has launched a major campaign to enshrine International Day to Combat Islamophobia – March 15 – into UK law.  

The foundation, which works towards improving access to postgraduate education for Muslims, hopes the move will mean more resources for teaching understanding and religious tolerance.

It also wants the Government to celebrate the enormous contribution the British Muslim community brings to the UK.  

According to the UN, the International Day to Combat Islamophobia seeks to expand efforts to create a dialogue that promotes tolerance and respect for all religions and beliefs.  

“Islamophobia is a type of racism. That should be an obvious thing to understand but to many it isn’t,” said Asif Aziz, founder of The Aziz Foundation.

“The UN resolution in 2022 was a welcome first step, but to root out religious intolerance in all its forms we need to educate our children that Islamophobia cannot be allowed to grow unchallenged.

“Having the government acknowledging the UN day will allow us to begin peeling back the layers of misunderstanding and mistrust that have built up over the years, so we can teach our children not only to be respectful of each other, but to celebrate our differences.”  

The Foundation said it has already begun to reach out to other faith bodies.  

Combatting hate crime against Muslims

Between 2021 and 2022, religious hate crimes in the UK increased by 37% to 8,730 offences. Over two in five (42%) of these were targeted against Muslims.  

Naz Shah MP, Vice Chair British Muslims APPG, said: “I am fully supportive of this hugely important campaign, and I look forward to working with both the Foundation and parliamentary colleagues from across the House to achieve this goal.  

“Greater understanding and tolerance are the cornerstones of a truly multicultural society.”  

The International Day to Combat Islamophobia was introduced in 2022 as a result of a UN resolution tabled by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The UK was one of 140 nations to sign the UN resolution to observe the day.  

The date was chosen to commemorate the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, in which 51 people were killed and 40 others injured in an Islamophobic attack.  

In 2021, marking the first International Day to Combat Islamophobia, UN Secretary-General António Guterres pointed out that anti-Muslim bigotry is part of a larger trend of a resurgence in ethno-nationalism, neo-Nazism, stigma and hate speech targeting vulnerable populations including Muslims, Jews, some minority Christian communities, as well as others.  

He said: “As the Holy Quran reminds us: nations and tribes were created to know one another. Diversity is a richness, not a threat.”

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