Muslim’s Don’t Matter

Embargoed until 6pm on Thursday 19th October 2023

Key Lecture by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi at The University of Leeds –
Muslims Don’t Matter (Check against delivery)

Thursday 19th October 2023

– Katie Hopkins – a cup of tea, and a rendezvous in York at the home of Sanjoy Battarcharjee and countering hate is why we are all here today – it’s a tale for another time. But today I want to speak about countering hate.

This week is National Hate Crime Awareness week. We meet as hateful rhetoric swamps social network feeds and divisive narratives poison our national politics.

In an intervention I have thought about long and hard, and one that
could not be more tragically timely than now.
Over a decade ago in government in 2011 within 12 months of my
Cabinet career I spoke out on this issue.

Islamophobia 'passing the dinner table test' was the first time a
major speech on anti-Muslim prejudice had been made by a
Cabinet Minister, let alone from the Conservative Party, and a
Chairman of the party.

Having been part of the optimistic early Cameron years, with a
commitment to get language right, a questioning of ideology and a
concerted effort to engage openly, honestly and authentically.

Let me quote David Cameron from 2006
The Britain America Project- DC
“That is why we must not stoop to conquer. We must not stoop to
illiberalism - whether at Guantánamo Bay, or here at home with
excessive periods of detention without trial.
We must not turn a blind eye to the excesses of our allies - abuses of human rights in some Arab countries, or disproportionate Israeli
bombing ..

We are fighting for the principles of civilisation - let us not abandon
those principles in the methods we employ”
To David Cameron in 2007 On language
*I try not to use phrases like ‘Islamist terrorist’ *because I think
British Muslims read that and think, ‘He just means me.’ So we are
all trying to find a way through this language issue… descriptions
more accurate than those that were used in the past”
Post the appalling Blair years of patronising engagement and
caustic language which had started the process of vilification of
British Muslims. I genuinely felt we could change direction and step
away from, the now much discredited, Neo conservative thinking
being imported from the US , thinking that New Labour had
become enamoured with.

I have spoken to many Cabinet ministers and advisers from the New
Labour years who have candidly spoken of the ideological and
blinkered rot that had set in on this policy area and it wasn’t until
the late years of the Labour government under a Gordon Brown
government that some sanity was restored.
I recall proudly saying that the UK is the best place to be a Muslim.
When I looked at the ways in which European counterparts
purported to uphold the liberty of their citizens by banning
headscarves in classrooms and Burkinis on the beach, banning
minarets as they caused offence and even calling for bans of
religious text.

I felt proud that even during moments like the ex-Foreign Secs Jack
Straws unwelcome and uninvited soirée into womens closets, my
colleagues seemed to instinctively fall on the right side of the

However, by early 2011 talk of muscular liberalism and attacks on
multiculturalism starting to infect Conservative politics, a Party that
pride itself on individual liberty , freedom of speech and freedom of
religion and belief found itself setting a vision for British Muslims in
conflict with its own stated values.
I saw this up close and first hand and much of that time is well
documented in my book The Enemy Within in the chapter- The
Paranoid State.

In a nutshell policy making started to exceptionalise the way we
engaged with, judged and viewed British Muslims – one set of rules
for everyone else but a higher standard and different set of rules
for British Muslims.

Think tanks, the editorial bias of certain papers and ideological
crusader like Cabinet colleagues for whom fact and expert evidence
was simply an irritating distraction fed the frenzy of bad policy
making rooted in a new acceptable, dare I say socially respectable
form of racism, the kind casually discussed around the dinner table.

Let me recap what the speech argued. Much has been made of the
'dinner table' reference, but the principal arguments were these-
-Firstly the bifurcation of Muslims into 'moderates' and 'extremists'
, a clumsy , incorrect and theologically unsound designation foisted
upon a worldwide community of nearly 2 billion.
Since then the - the language has changed - talk is now of 'Islamist'
( a phrase which has dozens of potential meanings, again explained
in detail in the book) and 'non-Islamist' but the connotations are
the same. It is but a fig leaf often used by Islamophobes to disguise
their bigotry.

Secondly the discomfort around those who faithfully observe
religious practice as opposed to those who wear their faith lightly.
Thirdly the elision of Islamophobic discourse into mainstream
politics and media via thinks tanks, journalists and politicians under
the guise of challenging orthodoxies around institutionalised
religion and in the stated pursuit of freedom of speech and fourthly
the exceptionalising of Muslims to demarcate them from other

I have often been asked why I felt it necessary to give that speech
at that time, that in many ways it marked my political cards.
I have been asked again this week why I choose to intervene again.
I did so and do so because the evidence of the silencing ,
stigmatising and stereotyping of British Muslims is stifling
communities , its corrosive impact on public discourse and public
opinion is real, the approach is deliberate and the consequences if
we follow this approach to its natural conclusion are catastrophic.

Ladies and Gentlemen - This climate is not led by the British people
, our fellow citizens , the everyday encounters and relationships
between us all are organically made and resilient,
this is a dangerous and deliberate attempt by some in politics, in
the media and in think tanks to divide, demonise and demarcate
the other, individuals who pose as patriots but behave as arsonists ,
setting our country alight and creating uncertain futures for all of
Multiculturalism has not and is not failing in this country, but there
is a deliberate and concerted attempt by some to not let it succeed.
Ladies and Gentleman I am sounding the sirens and I ask you to
sound them with me.

Let me start however by acknowledging some early positive steps
in the coalition government where some inroads were made in
addressing Islamophobia.
After huge rows within government , funding was made available
for setting up a CST like organisation – to record and capture data
on anti-Muslim attacks
The very first Review of the Prevent Strategy in 2011, raised the
important issue that Islamophobia was a driver of radicalisation.

The Protection of Freedoms Act, 2012 – which abolished New
Labours Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000- stop and search
without suspicion) and introduced Section 47A, curtailing police
powers to stop and search without reasonable suspicion.
Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, 2014 - which brought
in some respite amendments to Schedule 7 powers ( the stop,
search, question and detain at port powers)
The Leveson Inquiry in the wake of the phone hacking scandal
amongst other issues examined instances of press bias against
Muslims, asylum seekers and refugees.

A BME 2020 strategy was developed.
The introduction of police recorded crime data on Islamophobia- an
initiative led by PCCs
Remembering Srebrenica- a country wide program to remember
and learn from the Srebrenica genocide of Muslims on European
soil in our times was launched.

Although funding for this highly successful program has been
increasingly cut in recent times
There was a recognition of monitoring Islamophobia around the
world by the FCO through inclusion of anti-Muslim hatred in the
annual Human Rights and Democracy reports published by the FCO,
again sadly later removed in the 2015 report.
I set out the examples above because some attempts were made to
get some things right in addressing the challenge of racism in

And some of these measures had some positive impact on British
Sadly some if not most measures have since been reversed.
Like the Stop and Search changes
The Leveson Inquiry recommendations on the media were never
fully implemented with Government shying away from the creation
of a press regulator with teeth that would tackle the egregious
breaches of standards on accuracy and discrimination that blight
reporting on Islam and Muslims in the media.
But even during this what looking back seems like a golden era ,
specific policy areas we got badly wrong.
The introduction and subsequent use of the ‘closed material
procedures’ in the Justice and Security Act 2013 (JSA) – has rightly
caused much concern.
The expansion of counter-terrorism into the vague 'non-violent
extremism' space without detail or clarity.

The 'Trojan Horse' affair and the handling of it by Michael Gove
which super changed the course of hostile policy making regarding
British Muslims despite the letter that triggered the whole saga
being proven to be a hoax with investigations concluding it was
The leaking of the letter by Michael Gove’s department DfE
unleashing of a torrent of inflammatory media coverage and the
collapse of the disciplinary hearings against Muslim teachers
implicated after DfE failed to supply evidence to support their case
and yet to date there has been
- no recourse to justice for the teachers,
-no remedial action for the schools dragged into the public glare of
negative media coverage
-no effort at a public relations strategy to rebuild confidence in
Muslim communities and schools affected by the Government's
mishandling and crucially,
-no apology to any of those harmed, including children , by the
Government's actions.

Why – Because Muslims Don’t Matter
But it wasn’t just the proactive policy making we got wrong we also
failed to respond when our fellow British Muslims came under
In 2013 our shamefully inadequate response to the detection of
bombs planted in mosques in the West Midlands as part of a 'race
war' plot orchestrated by the Ukrainian far right Pavlo Lapshyn and
the murder of Mohammed Saleem.
And again with the murder of Muhsin Ahmed in Rotherham in
2016 by two thugs who stomped on his head as he made his way
home after dawn prayers while verbally abusing him and calling
him a "groomer".

And it seems no lessons have been learnt with both Suella
Braverman and her predecessors, Priti Patel and Sajid Javid,
continuing to propagate and popularise notions of 'Muslim
grooming gangs' even though evidence from the Home Office itself
contradicts this.
Braverman went further this year falsely asserting that child abuse
“ almost all British Pakistani men” a divisive comment she has had
to row back from and one proven earlier this month to be false and
misleading with the Mail on Sunday having to issue a correction.
So why do they stereotype and stigmatise in this way – Because
Muslims Don’t Matter.
But one of the most fascinating area of policy that I have seen
develop and ironically unravel has been the Prevent statutory duty
introduced in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015.
The Prevent duty has been the precursor to what we now know to
be 'cancel culture'.
British Muslims were the first community in our country to be
cancelled , something I lay out in some detail in my book. A policy
of disengagement that was started by New Labour, continued in
coalition years and supercharged by the Conservatives- encouraged
by right wing Think Tanks and newspapers who tracked, and took
to task British Muslims in ways no other community was subjected

Creating a 'chilling effect' , pushing Muslims out of the public
domain on fear of being tarnished as 'extremist' and finding
tenuous links to cancel individuals through a guilt by association

Universities, arenas for opening debate and critical thought too
contributed to risk-averse strategies shutting down free speech and
healthy debate.
And more recently used in schools including here in Leeds to police
and silence children wanting to show solidarity with Palestinian
I have taken call after call from anxious parents fearful of the
climate in schools, colleges and Universities and the impact it is
having on the confidence of their children and their future career

This stifling of free speech and this silencing has to stop.
But here is the irony -the Government's announcement of the
appointment of a 'Free speech champion' to uphold freedom of
expression on campuses//
it also continues to enforce the Prevent duty,
So Free Speech for everyone except Muslims, the silencing of
British Muslims because Muslims Don’t Matter.
I watch with amazement the indignation of 'cancel culture' when
applied to speakers often male often white , often far right, often
homophobic , misogynistic and Islamophobic contrasted to the
enthusiastic application of it to Muslims.
The hypocrisy paradigm that plays out when it comes to assessing
the merits of one against the other.
Let me use Toby Young as an example and his appointment to the
Office for Students in 2018
Mr Young was alleged to have made homophobic and misogynistic
An appointment that the Commissioner for Public Appointment in
his report referenced evidence that “demonstrates a lack of
consistency in the approach to due diligence throughout this
competition- , it did not delve back extensively into his social

media, yet, the social media activity of the initially preferred
candidate for the student experience role was extensively
Interestingly the Commissioner's report refers to the reasons for
one of the candidates being rejected for appointment was -
"Ministers concluded that it would undermine the intended policy
goals of the new regulator to appoint student representatives who
publicly opposed the Prevent duty ."
So cancelled for opposing cancel culture.
Note also the irony of Young's defence of his tweets: “Given that
defending free speech will be one of the OfS’s priorities, there’s a
certain irony in people saying I’m ‘unfit’ to serve on its board
because of politically incorrect things I’ve said in the past. Some of
those things have been sophomoric and silly – and I regret those –
but some have been deliberately misinterpreted to try and paint
me as a caricature of a heartless Tory toff."
So the preferred candidate was denied appointment because of
his/her views on Prevent but the 'defence of free speech' justified
Young's appointment with his declared caveat that stuff he had
said in the past was "sophomoric and silly".
A privilege not afforded to British Muslims – they are not
permitted the privilege of rejecting their past conduct as 'silly' and
again ironically many have been deliberately misinterpreted and
painted as a caricature of an “ extremist” by the very publications
that Young himself writes for
One rule for everyone, a harsher higher standard for Muslims.
Let me move on to another recent example.
Closure of bank accounts, a phenomenon that has blighted British
Muslim organisations and individuals for over a decade, with reports of high street banks like HSBC closing British Muslim
accounts as far back as 2014.

According to the FCA in its data for 2022 the group most likely to be
unbanked are Muslims , they are also most likely to be de-banked?
With banks not being obliged to provide reasons for closure there has
been little recourse for those whose lives and livelihoods have been
devastated by such actions.
They were not afforded the support of high-profile politicians and
commentators to pressure banks to account for their actions nor
did we see calls for resignations.
investigations into Muslim bank account closures found that
the database , Worldcheck, used by the banks to justify their debanking decisions relied upon political assessments of
organisations with Muslim account holders being flagged as posing
a 'terrorism' risk. The database World Check owned by Thomson
Reuters is used by 49 out of 50 of the world's biggest banks.
Peter Oborne the renowned journalist found that it utilises sources
of a dubious nature including State sponsored news agencies in
populating entries in the database.
Finsbury Park mosque was one of the institutions that was denied a
bank account and launched a successful legal challenge to get
themselves removed from the World Check database, securing an
apology and damages from Thomson Reuters.
Despite this there was no government support for its challenge, no
debate or ministerial statements about the injustice inflicted on a
British citizen, no calls for an inquiry into the bank's decisions , no
change of policy - all of which followed the Farage bank closure
case because unlike the furore surrounding Coutts Bank and Nigel
Farage, Muslims Don’t Matter.
Let me move onto another example.

The GB news Wooton/ Fox saga and the fallout from the interview
regarding Ava Evans Fox's appalling comments were clearly misogynistic and it was right
that he had to go., the Evans interview quite rightly sparked
widespread condemnation for its obvious misogynistic tone, and
yet on numerous occasions both his and Wooten’s comments about
Muslims have passed without comment or criticism.
It reveals something of the normalisation of Islamophobia in
everyday discourse.
Only this week we saw it on display with Richard Madeley’s bizarre
questioning of Lib Dem MP Layla Moran – the question he asked “
with your family connections in Gaza, did you have any indication
of what was going to happen…..was there any word on the street?”
Let me give another example – only this week Jake Wallis Simons
the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle tweeted “ we need to face
reality that much of Muslim culture is in the grip of a death cult” –
referencing the “culture” of nearly 2 billion people worldwide all of
whom who have very different and distinct cultures.
After I challenged him and others, he deleted his comments.
The problem is compounded by deliberate obfuscation about
what Islamophobia is and what it isn't in a calculated ploy to keep
its normalisation in circulation without hindrance. Only last week
Richard Ferrer the Editor of the Jewish News wrote “ this is plain
and simple historic Islamic bloodlust passed down the generation”
Appalling racism repeating the equivalent of the antisemitic blood
libel trope . After I challenged him he subsequently changed the
word Islamic to Islamist (that fig leaf again) and felt that was
sufficient – the appalling stereotyping with no consequence -
because Muslims don’t matter
The consequences of this approach are catastrophic.

- Societal attitudes on Islam and Muslims in Britain impacts
Muslims and demolish the glue that hold societies together.
From the Islamophobia Defined report and NatCen British Social
Attitudes surveys to the University of Birmingham report on
Islamophobia in 2022 the findings are shocking.
- Muslims are viewed less favourably than other religious groups in
- people are more likely to say they would not want someone in
their family to marry a Muslim
-Muslims are the UK’s second ‘least liked’ group, after Gypsy and
Irish Travellers: 25.9% of the British public feel negative towards
( Gypsy and Irish Travellers , at 44.6% )
More than one in four people, and nearly half of Conservative and
Leave voters, hold conspiratorial views about Sharia ‘no-go areas’:
and a majority of Conservative voters also agree that ‘Islam
threatens the British way of life.
Support for prohibiting all Muslim migration to the UK is higher for
Muslims than it is for other ethnic and religious groups:– Trumpism
is alive and well.
British people are more confident in making judgements about Islam
than other non-Christian religions but are much more likely to
make incorrect assumptions about it.
People from middle and upper class occupational groups are more
likely to hold prejudiced views of Islamic beliefs than people from
working class occupational groups:
YouGov tracker on Islam and British values shows that almost
consistently 50% of British people feel "There is a fundamental
clash between Islam and the values of British society"

And its not just an older generation issue
According to a survey of 6000 schoolchildren by the charity, Show
racism the red card, "Nearly a third agreed with the statement
“Muslims are taking over England”, , and on average respondents
thought Muslims made up 36% of the population, as opposed to
the true figure of around 5%.
And these views and others have consequences , racism and
exclusion at one end to attacks at the other
Our public discourse is being poisoned- and it is deliberate.
We are this week marking Hate Crime awareness - Let me give you
some Hate Crime stats
In year ending March 2022: religiously motivated hate crime was
up 37% with Muslims accounting for 42% of all religious hate crimes
In year ending March 2023 religiously motivated hate crime is up
again by nearly 10% with Muslims accounting for 39% of religious
hate crimes.
Muslims have consistently been the most commonly targeted
religious group.
The impact on the economy of our approach is real for both Muslim
communities and the economy as a whole
- The Citizens UK - Missing Muslims report chaired by ex AG
Dominic Grieves details some of these consequences quoting the
cost of not meeting BME full potential at - £24 billion. This is the
loss to the UK economy to all of us.
- What is also disturbing is that despite Muslims being well
represented in higher education, higher numbers enter University
than other groups they are under-represented in professional and
managerial roles.

Your own Professor Jacqueline Stevenson report on Muslims and
social mobility challenge- refers to layers of discrimination in higher
education from application, to campus experience, to degree
attainment saying that "Racism and discrimination in the
workplace is working to limit aspiration and prevent young
Muslims from 'aiming high' and fulfilling their potential."
For Muslim women, twice as many (58%) were economically
inactive in 2015 compared to all women (27%)
Research from Bristol University shows the extent of discrimination
faced by Muslim women, noting that they are 71% more likely than
white Christian women to be unemployed, even after controlling
for factors such as similar language abilities, education, marital
status, number of children and strength of religious belief.
- name blind applications and social experiments with 'Muslim
sounding names' shows the starkest evidence of direct
discrimination, were where Muslim sounding names, resulted in
being filtered out of the recruitment process.
- Women and Equalities Committee report on 'Employment
Opportunities for Muslims in the UK' refers to the triple penalty
faced by Muslim women, -sex, race and religion combine to leave
British Muslim at the rock bottom of the employment pile.
Furthermore, the findings presented reveal that the penalty many
groups face in the United Kingdom is of a hierarchal nature. This
hierarchy seems to be highly determined by
the colour (ethnic/racial) and religion (culture). For example, when
we looked at Christian groups only, black Christians were the only
group to face a significant penalty. But when we examined the
black groups, all of them seem to face a penalty, with black
Muslims appearing to face the severest penalty.

So if you are a Muslim in the United Kingdom, you are likely to face
a penalty regardless of your colour or geography. If you are a
Christian in the United Kingdom, you are not likely to face any
penalties unless you are black. If you are white you will also be
protected unless you are a Muslim.
The penalty will peak if you are a Muslim and black.
But the area I have seen up close and disturbs me the most is how
increasingly politics has become the place when British Muslims are
silenced, stereotyped and stigmatised.
Where over years there has been a closing of the political space
for British Muslims in mainstream politics
Where you have to be the “right kind of Muslim “ to survive never
mind succeed.
Both our main parties have been mired in accusations of
Islamophobia, the Conservatives heel dragging attempts to
challenge it after years of campaigning was a whitewash of a
report , chaired by a controversial figure with historic anti Muslim
comments and did not even manage to garner the support of
Conservative Muslim parliamentarians. No consequences
followed for those whom even this whitewash of a report
accepted were examples of anti-Muslim racism
The Labour Party too after years of taking that vote for granted
having received over 80% of the Muslim vote found itself failing
to respond to anti Muslim racism being experienced by its
The appalling experience of Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani who
was alleged to have been removed from ministerial position because of her 'Muslimness' – sacked for being perceived to be too

And only this week we see reports of the Labour Party banning its
councillors and members of Parliament from attending Pro
Palestinian marches not others, despite having spent months before
the recess fighting the government to protect the right to protest in
the Public Order Act.
The abuse Parliamentarians receive who are Muslim or perceived
to be Muslim is overwhelming, the death threats, even mainstream
respectable individuals such as ex Tory donor encouraging violence
suggesting “someone should kill” the “ Muslim”Mayor of London
for his ULEZ policy. He later withdrew his incendiary comments.
Beyond Parliamentarians , Muslim civil society has been
methodically disengaged by successive Governments, Conservative
and Labour, over a period of nearly 15 years with governments
cherry-picking interlocutors from Muslim communities who do not
question or challenge.
From the Blair years failed experiment with the now defunct groups
like Qulliam and the Sufi Muslim Council to more recent
approaches towards the charitable sector.
A policy of disengagement in complete contrast to the approach to
engagement with all other social groups in society: women, race
groups, LGBT community, Jewish communities for example - in all
cases the Government rightly make efforts to include a wide
representation from the groups without interfering in group
representation by favouring one set of interlocutors over another.
And yet in the case of Muslims successive Government feels
justified and emboldened to determine “acceptable Muslims” -
whether representative of Muslim communities or not - based on the prejudicial stance that they agree with all aspects of Govt
policy, do not question legitimate areas of concern and are subject
to 'approval' by think tanks and other groups – something that
horrified me in government. The outsourcing of these decisions to
groups and institutions with vested interests.

Using a counter-extremism lens to determine which Muslims
should be engaged and even which invited to Eid receptions
favouring those that acquiesce to a “ State sanctioned “ belief
system and a total commitment to policies that impact British
Muslims however wrong they may be.
There is a particular irony to this political struggle- because on the
one hand the Govt insists on the observance of 'Fundamental
British Values' but when Muslims
(a) challenge actions that detract from our commitment to rule of
law - eg torture, rendition
(b) challenge actions that undermine democracy - eg freedom of
speech or freedom of association
(c) challenge actions that undermine respect and
tolerance eg Institutional Islamophobia
(d) challenge actions that undermine individual liberty eg right of
women to wear what they want
- when Muslims APPLY Fundamental British Values in their
participation in wider society, they are demonised, marginalised,
excluded from political arenas and treated as outcasts. The irony is
evocative of Orwell's dictum, 'all animals are equal but some
animals are more equal than others'.
And after years of being told the community is segregationist and
not integrated those of us who participated and encouraged others
to participate are faced with accusations of 'entryism' – many
hounded out of their posts or subjected to intense media and
political scrutiny .
I was accused as such during my time in Cabinet.

Treating Muslims in public life with suspicion , the enemy within ,
the term used for me as I sat at Cabinet and in the NCS dealing with
the aftermath of the killing of Lee Rigby- a statement that hit hard
but a great title for a book
Even referred to as an ISIS sympathiser whilst I was on the ISIS kill
list, a comment only retracted after a legal battle.
We are a liberal democracy with a long and proud history , we
demean ourselves by adopting a totalitarian approach to a
section of our fellow citizens ,British Muslims. We undermine our
stated values and we appear as hypocrites. This approach and
anti Muslim racism / Islamophobia must stop.
Others have too been sounding the alarm bells.
The UN warned in 2021
That Islamophobia builds imaginary constructs around Muslims
that are used to justify state-sponsored discrimination, hostility
and violence against Muslims with stark consequences for the
enjoyment of human rights including freedom of religion or
The stigmatisation has been drip fed over decades
and is there any surprise that the polling now reflects as it does.
When Prime Ministers speak about Muslim women as 'traditionally
submissive'; or letter boxes when integration reviews (Casey
Review) are predominantly about Muslims even as anti-Muslim
racism in society is rising; when national broadcasters, can
broadcast programmes titled 'What British Muslims Really
Think?', and use selective data to portray Muslims as 'the enemy
within'; when think tanks can drive Government policy despite
their record of Muslim fixation and anti-Muslim hostility and when
national media can get away with asking why a Muslim woman in a hijab is fronting a news report about terrorist incident in France
(Fatima Manji and The Sun's Kelvin MacKenzie); when Women's
Hour, a flagship programme on the BBC can post a video clip on
twitter of hostile questioning of the first Muslim female to lead a
major British Muslim organisation as click bait, when counterterrorism policy wants to refocus on 'Islamist' terrorism even as far
right and others ideologies account for the greater proportion of
terrorism sympathisers we are feeding and creating suspicion and

Muslims were the first victims of the Culture wars which have
become a toxic feature of our politics.
I have been a racial justice campaigner all my life. From anti-black
racism to anti-Jewish racism , for me anti Muslim racism is simply
the latest evil
An evil that needs to be defined.
You cannot tackle what you do not define.
I would need a whole hour to tell the story of how attempts to
define anti Muslim racism have been sabotaged over the last
decade but I will give you the 30 second version.
From attacks on staff, to pseudo academic posturing about the
term Islamophobia, from the exclusion of civil society organisations
to leaking and briefing from government departments to the
feeding of false information to the Police , to outright lies published
in reports and newspapers
-the campaign to silence and stop our work has been ferocious. It
merits a research PhD
And the governments disingenuous approach of initially not
wanting a definition , to wanting one but one that most Muslims
agreed with,
to being presented with an agreed definition supported by over
800 Muslim organisations and institutions from traditional to secular , underpinned by over 80 academics who are specialists in
this field , framed by a cross party group of Parliamentarians after
the largest countrywide consultation and evidence gathering
process including victim testimonies ,
the government decided it needed to appoint its own two advisers
who would find a new definition and then proceeded to only
appoint one advisor, give him no terms of reference, no ministerial
engagement , no resources and years late unceremoniously
dismissed him via a letter in the media.
These are the actions of a government that far from tackling anti
Muslim racism doesn’t even want to define it.
But here is the good news , that despite all of this the definition
today has been adopted by all major political parties bar the
Conservatives in Westminster, it's been adopted by the
Conservatives in Scotland , it’s been adopted by over 60 councils,
trade unions , local authorities , businesses and Universities and Im
delighted to be able to announce that the University of Leeds has
too expressed its intention to adopt and will be taking this forward.
And I want to remain on a more optimistic tone and look forward.
We still have an opportunity to reset.
To ensure that all in our country belong and matter.
To protect all who make up our country.
I want the government to formally adopt the agreed definition of
As a form of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or
perceived muslimness, a definition which is neither religious or
theologically based and expressly seeks to protect people not the
faith, It mirrors the IHRA definition of Antisemitism, with its
examples. Both are non-legally binding working definitions which
signal intent and a direction of travel.

We need a determined and concerted effort to
address Islamophobia across all sectors of politics, economy,
education, healthcare and society
And I ask all of you to adopt it in your workplaces . The APPG
stands ready to support you in this process.
I want to see the Introduction of mandatory reporting on the
Ethnicity Pay Gap - to tackle employment discrimination and wage
disparity as we have done it for Gender.
We need to establish an independent inquiry into the Trojan Horse
affair, to bring full closure into the whole disgraceful episode and to
identify the areas and actors that failed our school children,
teachers, governors, and parents in Birmingham, and to learn
lessons for the future.
It’s time to establish a judge-led inquiry into Prevent one that
considers the evidence, and focuses on finding a policy that keeps
us secure and protects our freedoms.
We must end the government policy of disengagement and allow
British Muslims the agency of their own representative bodies as
we do so for every other community.
And for all of you who care I ask you to aide what is in effect a
Muslim civil rights movement a demand to belong, to be a part, to
play our part, to have the same rights and freedoms as others, to
be heard, to have the right to be heard, for our citizenship to be
worth the same as everyone else’s, to be treated equally under the
I have great faith in my country and its people.
Once the poisonous tap of culture wars is switched off, once those
in leadership stop feeding hate the ordinary Brit embraces and has
embraced British Muslims.

Whether it’s our Cake Queen Nadiya Hussain, World cup winning
cricketer Moeen Ali , the Egyptian King in Liverpool Mo Salah , our
multiple gold winning medallist Sir Mo Farah, Saliha Mahmood
Ahmed the Dr and MasterChef winner, rhythm personified Hamza
Yassin (Strictly Come Dancing winner 2022), or Asmaa AlAlak the
surgeon and seamstress extraordinaire that won Sewing Bee our
national life is enriched by Muslims and I take pride that Muslims
are embraced as national heroes in our society.
But for many Muslims, the harsh reality of prejudice, stunted
aspirations, and blocked pathways is becoming the norm
The fear in communities is deep, the Plan Bs exit routes are being
The paralysis and feeling of being silenced is stifling
And these anxious , fearful , hushed conversations have gone on for
too long behind closed doors
I have thought long and hard about what I have said today
And its why I am sounding the sirens, our approach must change.
Nearly 70 years after my families in country relationship with
Britain started and four generations later I refuse to accept that my
country may not be home to my grandchildren and their children
My grandfathers fought Hitlers armies as part of the British Indian
effort, they did not give their blood and sweat for their
descendants to be stereotyped , stigmatised and silenced.
They did not make sacrifices for the freedoms we enjoy today to
see their future generations deprived of those very liberties.
They fought for Britain , helped build Britain’s industries and
infrastructure , added colour, sounds and wonderful flavours to the
rich tapestry of its culture and as a young and growing community
will once again provide the workforce , entrepreneurs and
international networks to , if I may repurpose a phrase for better
use Make Britain Great Again