Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 13 December 2019

UK appoints expert to tackle Islamophobia

Qari Asim will lead a process to create a definition of Islamophobia

Theresa May also appointed an independent expert to tackle antisemitism. Reuters
Theresa May also appointed an independent expert to tackle antisemitism. Reuters

In one of her final acts as prime minister, Theresa May has appointed Qari Asim to the post of independent expert in charge of tackling Islamophobia.

Imam Asim is the senior Imam at Makkah Mosque in Leeds, UK and Legal Director at the DLA Piper law firm.

He is deputy chair of the British government’s Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group and was an adviser to the Independent Review into the Application of Sharia Law in England and Wales.

“The government is wholeheartedly committed to ensuring that Muslims are not targeted for hatred, persecution or discrimination,” said Communities Secretary James Brokenshire.

“Imam Asim’s appointment marks a further step in helping us to achieve that goal and ensures that we develop an effective definition of Islamophobia which commands widespread support.”

The Conservative Party promised to work up its own definition of Islamophobia after rejecting a definition set out by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims after consultations with community groups, which it says “could unintentionally undermine freedom of speech, and prevent legitimate criticism of Islamist extremism, or of unacceptable cultural practices”.

The Labour and Liberal Democrat parties both adopted the APPG version.

“It is vitally important that an effective definition of Islamophobia is proposed to tackle the shocking rise in Islamophobia in recent years,” Imam Asim said on Tuesday.

“I am honoured to be entrusted with this role, which will have a far reaching impact in protecting British Muslims and tackling anti-Muslim hatred.”

Mrs May also appointed John Mann, Chairman of the APPG Against Antisemitism, as an independent adviser on antisemitism.

“John Mann is, without exception, a key voice on this matter,” said Mrs May.

“He has frequently campaigned in the House of Commons on this issue and has tirelessly used his role as a politician to speak out on behalf of victims of anti-Jewish racism.

“I am confident he will bring the level of cross-party independent advice needed to advise Government and to ensure we see progress on this very important issue.”

Updated: July 23, 2019 08:01 PM