In the News: NSS Opposes Formal Definition of “Islamophobia”

Home secretary urged not to adopt definition of ‘Islamophobia’, National Secular Society (NSS), 2018-12-09.

The National Secular Society has urged the home secretary to resist calls to adopt a formal definition of ‘Islamophobia’ which have been put forward by a parliamentary group. NSS chief executive Stephen Evans co-ordinated a letter to Sajid Javid on the subject after a high-profile reportfrom the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on British Muslims.

The APPG’s report recommended that the government define ‘Islamophobia’ as “a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”. […]

Explaining his decision to write and coordinate the letter, Mr Evans said: “Racism and anti-Muslim bigotry need to be confronted, but proposals to promote the vague concept of Islamophobia seriously risk restricting public discussion and making matters worse. […]

The letter called the APPG’s definition “vague and unworkable” and said it “conflates hatred of, and discrimination against, Muslims with criticism of Islam”. “While we believe that in a liberal secular society individuals should be afforded respect and protection, we are clear that ideas should not.”

“Far from combatting prejudice and bigotry, erroneous claims of ‘Islamophobia’ have become a cover for it. LGBT rights campaigners have been called ‘Islamophobes’ for criticising the views of Muslim clerics on homosexuality. Meanwhile, ex-Muslims and feminist activists have been called ‘Islamophobes’ for criticising certain Islamic views and practices relating to women. Even liberal and secular Muslims have been branded ‘Islamophobes’.”

The National Secular Society (NSS) in the UK has fortunately begun to question the use of the highly tendentious expression “Islamophobia.” However, the NSS fails in its letter to criticize the unacceptable conflation of race and religion which typically accompanies the use of this expression.

The NSS has, on several occasions, opposed bans on religious symbols or face-coverings such as the burkini or the niqab, but without specifying (to the best of our knowledge) where they might consider such bans to be justified, if anywhere.

One of the co-signers of the letter is Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation, who apparently coined the phrase “regressive left” to describe those who claim to be leftists but nevertheless pander to reactionary ideologies such as cultural relativism and Islamism.

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