Muslim officers want ‘Islamist’ dropped from counter terrorism policing

The National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) has called on the Home Office and the police service to drop terms such as ‘Islamist’ and ‘Islamism’ from counter-terrorism policing.

NAMP said counter-terrorism policing often uses those terms to describe extremist ideology akin to groups such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda but it wants the authorities to update the counter-terrorism terminology.  

“There is an overwhelming belief that this creates a negative bias and stigma through associating Islam with extremism and singling out the term “Islam’ in a manner that is not consistent across other forms of extremism,” the group said in a statement.  

“Consequently leaving many Muslims feeling marginalised, vulnerable and at a higher risk of hate crime and discrimination.”

A 2020 NAMP survey found 85% of Muslim police respondents and 92% of Muslim community respondents felt the terminologies had a direct link to Islamophobic sentiment.

The appeal comes as recent Home Office stats for England and Wales show that 42% of all religious hate crimes targeted Muslims. The figures also showed that hate crime increased 37% between March 2021 and March 2022.

Building trust  

NAP initially raised concerns about the counter-terrorism terminologies in 2019.

Research from NAMP specifically identified three areas of concern from using those terms; increased levels of Islamophobia, greater risks of radicalisation, and lower levels of trust and confidence with police and other authorities.  

“Whilst we continue to push for change, some areas within policing have recognised the concerns that these terms bring and have supported NAMP by being more cognisant of the words they use,” it said.

The group has suggested alternatives such as “Daesh inspired terrorism, “Irhabism” and “Anti-Western Extremism.”

Alexander Gent, Chair of NAMP, said: “Islamophobia is a significant issue, and the continued use of these terms will reinforce negative stereotypes and discrimination that affect both communities and working in the Police Service itself.

“Whilst many people understand and support dialogue, we believe institutional islamophobia is a problem and we strongly urge the Home Office, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and police forces, to recognise the gravity of the issue, the negative impact it causes and to seek ways to address our concerns.”

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