Islamophobia Awareness Month
by Ruqayyah G, CBT therapist Touchstone IAPT
Islamophobia or anti-Muslim racism is the prejudice, hatred, or bigotry directed against Islam or Muslims. Islamophobia is when someone is targeted (including Islamic institutes and organisations), discriminated against or excluded in any way, due to their actual or perceived Muslim identity. It also includes prejudice that promotes fear against Muslims and Islam which further perpetuates an unsavoury climate of hatred.
Islamophobia is growing in the UK, with ongoing and sustained fear mongering about Muslims directed from certain sections of the media has resulted in anti-Muslim hatred becoming more socially acceptable. There is a genuine danger that such prejudice will further stoke up anti-Muslim hatred and provide fuel for an already growing number of acts of violence against the Muslim community across the UK. Recent statistics provided by the Chief Superintendent at a Mend event in Leeds illustrated that attacks against Muslims and Muslim property was higher than all the hate crimes against all other categories of people put together. To add, it was also evident that high levels of under-reporting showed the severity of this form of hatred.
The population of Leeds is diverse; therefore Touchstone has an important role to engage BME communities and provide appropriate mental health services. As we will see a rise in Muslim service-users being affected by the rise in Islamophobia, there is ever more need to understand and assist the very diverse Muslim communities properly. In the last year alone, we have witnessed a number of attacks against mosques, physical abuse against Muslims, anti-Muslim graffiti on universities campuses, a rise in verbal abuse and hate mail, reports of Islamophobia in schools and continued online abuse against Muslims particularly on social media. Many people are suffering in silence due to fearing further victimisation, hence it is imperative all incidents are reported to the right channels. This will not only help support our victims but an accurate picture of anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents can lead to changes in the law to better protect people belonging to religious groups. There are various ways to report a hate crime which can bring about this change – please see below.
One way to raise awareness of Islamophobia is to participate in Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM) throughout November, which aims to raise the profile of anti-Muslim racism and to work with others to counter Islamophobia. There have been many employees and service users including myself who have been affected by Islamophobia. Therefore it becomes ever more important to understand and act against this form of bigotry and hatred. The need to understand and to act is also in line with our Touchstone values of diversity, inclusiveness and being culturally competent on all levels.
In order to understand and to provide an increasingly efficient service, Touchstone will be delivering ‘Islam, Islamophobia and Mental health’ training on 23rd November, from 12pm – 4pm at The IAPT office, Haselwood drive. This training is open to all staff and we would encourage you to sign up in the usual way. It will cover the basics of what Islam is, dispelling myths, the causes and cures of Islamophobia, and how this is having an impact on Mental Health. We are delighted to announce that Muslim Engagement & Development (MEND) will be delivering the specific training on Islamophobia.
MEND (www.mend.org.uk) is an organisation leading the way in tackling Islamophobia by way of improving participation and engagement of Muslims in public life. They regularly engage with policy makers, schools, universities, local and national government, police and community organisations.
Click below to see all the MEND events throughout Leeds and surrounding areas in November: http://mend.org.uk/latest-events/
Please watch this short video on the IAM campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDadEdqTYRg
To report a hate incident:
Visit any Hate Reporting Centre.
See the Related Documents section for the full list of reporting centres in Leeds.
Or report via these organisations:
- West Yorkshire Police on 101, or 999 if serious
- Stop Hate UK, Freephone – 24 hour helpline 0800 1381625. Report online at http://www.stophateuk.org/talk-to-us/
- Muslim council of Britain http://www.mcb.org.uk/reporting-form/