1. ITV Report

Islamophobia is so prevalent in the UK it has become the country's 'bigotry blind spot', MPs say

A six-month inquiry heard from victims of Islamophobic attacks Credit: PA

Islamophobia is now so prevalent in British society that it deserves to be recognised as the UK's ‘bigotry blind spot’, a group of MPs has said.

A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims calls on the government to adopt a definition of Islamophobia, which it says will help tackle what it describes as a growing problem.

Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.

– Definition of Islamophobia proposed by cross-party group of MPs
  • Watch the latest episode of Young, British and Muslim - on Islamophobia - here

The report comes at the end of a six-month inquiry by the APPG, where victims across the country shared their experiences of Islamophobia. The inquiry also heard from politicians, lawyers and campaign groups.

Wes Streeting MP, co-chair of the APPG for British Muslims, said: "From attacks on hijab-wearing Muslim women on the streets through to the subtle institutional forms that deprives British Muslims an equal opportunity to flourish within our society, Islamophobia is a form of racism and it is growing in our society.

"To tackle it, Islamophobia must be accurately and fully defined and that’s why this inquiry centred around the discussion on a working definition."

The APPG says adopting a definition is not intended to curb free speech or criticism of Islam as a religion.

Home Office data shows that Muslims account for 52% of all recorded religious hate crime victims. A poll by ComRes last month found 58% of people agreed with the statement ‘Islamophobia is a real problem in today’s society’.

In their own words: British Muslims on being the victims of Islamophobic attacks

A lit firework was posted through the letterbox of my own home…the incident was reported to the police through [non-emergency number] 101 but no significant action was taken…there was CCTV on the street however, it was not used to find or prosecute the perpetrator…this happened twice but still no security was provided by the police officers. It pushed and motivated my family to move house. Our local MP helped move house but no real justice was received.

– Muslim woman, Wales

There was a large queue at a local petrol station and a lady in another car got out and accused me of blocking the queue…this then quickly led to her blaming this on my hijab as I couldn’t see where I was going, calling me a P*** etc and a whole lot of verbal abuse. No action was taken by the police as I was a white revert Muslim, I was told there was no grounds to report the incident. It couldn’t be reported as a race incident as I didn’t belong to any ethnicity other than English/white…no grounds to prosecute on religious/hate crime I could not take it any further!

– Muslim woman, Birmingham

Swear words were shouted at me and my children from men in cars, this happened five times on different occasions…my son who is seven years old was spat at. I reported the swearing from cars on two occasions as I took down the car registration numbers…the police visited the perps (sic) both times and said if I had another complaint against them they will be arrested…the police said the young men were white who were remorseful and going to start university so I dropped the case.”

– Muslim woman, Barnsley

Speaking on ITV News' digital series Young, British and Muslim, Miqdaad Versi from the Muslim Council of Britain, who contributed to the report, welcomed the proposed definition of Islamophobia but warned there was still a lot of work to do to tackle the problem.

"There are definitely green shoots out there, there's definitely things going in the right direction", he said. "But we also have to [recognise] the scale of the problem that we're facing. Whilst it's important to be hopeful...there's a long way until Muslims are being treated equally."