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Government to establish "working group on Anti-Muslim Hatred"

By Paul Goodman
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The detail is buried away in a paper for the Government's internal Integration and Tolerance Working Group called "A framework for discussion", which I have in front of me as I write.  It says that -

"We are particularly concerned about the rise in Anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred.  In response, we are working on establishing a Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred to be made up of senior civil servants, academics and organisations from the British Muslim community.  This Working Group will report directly to Ministers."

The group will "review growing trends in anti-Muslim hatred", "work with key partners", "seek advice and make recommendations on the best way to engage the muslim community including around local and international events that impact on that community" - as well as "make recommendations to Government" more broadly.

"Creating the conditions for integration", a draft Government strategy paper on integration, says that "prejudice against Muslims is of particular concern as, unlike other forms of prejudice, it may be starting to form part of a public rhetoric".  This phrasing echoes some of the concerns aired by Sayeeda Warsi in her controversial speech earlier this year.  The paper also expresses "concern" about anti-semitism.

There is already a working group on anti-semitism - a product of the all-party enquiry into anti-semitism - and the setting-up of a similar body on anti-Muslim hatred would give the latter similar priority.  It could suggest that the Government believes that it is now as big a problem as the former.  I think that the move would be sensible, and have previously suggested that the DCLG Select Committee should look at the matter.

It will be interesting to see which academics and organisations are drafted in to advise the group, especially in the light of the draft strategy's proposed action on countering intolerance and extremism.  Academics with an interest in the field include Dilwar Hussain, who advised the DCLG Select Committee enquiry into the last Government's Preventing Violent Extremism strategy, Chris Allen and Philip Lewis.


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