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Council adopts new definition of Islamophobia

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A new definition of Islamophobia has been adopted by Sheffield City Council.

At yesterday’s (Wednesday 24th January) Strategy and Resources (S&R) Committee at the Town Hall, the decision was made to adopt the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Muslims definition of Islamophobia which states: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”.

The decision continues Sheffield’s commitment to becoming an anti-racist city.

Both ethnicity and religion are protected characteristics under the Equality Act. This means, among other things, the Council must have due regard when carrying out its work to eliminate discrimination and promote good relations between people who share protected characteristics and those who do not.

Muslims are legally protected within the Equality Act, as are others who share different protected characteristics.

However, the Equality Act provides no detail about how to define specific types of racism or anti-religious hate where it pertains to a particular group. It can therefore be helpful to adopt a more detailed definition of specific types of racism, such as Islamophobia.

As part of this decision, the council pledges to:

  • Carry out work and consultations to raise awareness and combat Islamophobia
  • Work with stakeholders across the city such as local MPs to raise awareness of Islamophobia in Parliament and urge the UK Government to also adopt the APPG definition, which it initially rejected in 2019
  • Undertake work on myth-busting around Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination
  • Have an increased ability to improve education around discrimination and harassment

Public consultation is currently taking place on the Council’s Equality Framework and the associated action planning that will support its delivery. Actions identified to specifically focus on tackling Islamophobia will be developed and reported back to the S&R Committee at a future meeting.

Cllr Tom Hunt, leader of Sheffield City Council, said of the decision:

“The Council is strengthening its commitment to combatting Islamophobia and anti-Muslim prejudice. This is an important step to make Sheffield an anti-racist city.

“Islamophobia and all other forms of racism have no place in Sheffield. We strongly condemn any abuse or actions that bring harm to others.

“Sheffield is proud to be a City of Sanctuary. We are committed to drive all forms of hate out of our city to make it a safer, happier place to live for all who choose to call Sheffield home.”