Labour would outlaw Islamophobia, says Miliband in an exclusive interview

24th Apr 2015

Hamed Chapman

A future Labour Government is committed to outlaw the scourge of Islamophobia by changing the law and making it an aggravated crime, according to the Party’s Leader Ed Miliband.

“We are going to make it an aggravated crime. We are going to make sure it is marked on people’s records with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime,” Miliband told the Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi in a wide ranging exclusive interview.

“We are going to change the law on this so we make it absolutely clear of our abhorrence of hate crime and Islamophobia. It will be the first time that the police will record Islamophobic attacks right across the country,” he said.

Labour Party Manifesto pledged to take a “zero-tolerance approach to hate crime” regarding the growth of Islamophobia as well as anti-Semitism. “We will challenge prejudice before it grows, whether in schools, universities or on social media. And we will strengthen the law on disability, homophobic, and transphobic hate crime,” it said.

Despite voting for the new Counter Terrorism Act last month, Labour was also critical of the way the Government has cut funding and narrowed the focus of the controversial Prevent extremism programme, saying that much of the work to “engage Muslim communities has been lost.”

“I want to overhaul Prevent programme,” Miliband told The Muslim News. The Muslim community is as an “incredibly important, incredibly rich, incredible asset to our country” and so it was really important to put on record.

“The reality is that the people I talk to in the Muslim community are absolutely full square with the idea that we’ve got to make sure that we work with our young people to stop them being dragged into this perverted (terrorist) ideology.”

“The way to do it is the Prevent programme working with communities. You got to do the things that once this ideology takes hold you try to disrupt it. For me that is the answer. We want to see how the Prevent programme is community focused.”

Challenged about the way particularly Muslim charities have been targeted by banks and discredited by the media, Miliband said in his wide ranging interview that he was “not in favour of demonising anyone (and) that is the wrong thing to do.”

“What I am in favour is the Charity Commission working without fear or favour. We got to build right across the Muslim community. There is absolutely shared purpose and shared desire to deal with a small minority in our country who get tempted to violent extremism. That is what we got to build on and it is about working with them.”

On the so-called Trojan Horse scandal that failed to find virtually any evidence of extremism or radicalisation, the Labour leader said the reality is that the “root of this problem lies in proper accountability in our schools.”

“We are going to have high standards locally. That will make sure that every school has proper oversight. When there is no proper oversight things can go wrong in schools. The best way to stop that happening is proper oversight in our schools.

“You need proper accountability. The answer to this is not to run thousands of schools from the centre of the Government but to have local accountability in schools.”

With regard to foreign policy, Miliband confirmed that Labour would have supported the recognition of a Palestinian State in last year’s UN vote. His Party’s support was why Parliament backed the principle, he said.

“We would do everything we can to work for a two state solution which is a viable Palestinian state alongside security for Israel,” he added but also pointed out that he personally was “not in favour of sanctions” against Israel.

To find a solution, he argued engagement was needed with both sides but the “reality is that we had a British Government for the last five years who had disengaged from this issue, had washed its hands off this issue.”

“I’m not going to wash my hands off this issue. I will speak out about the settlements. I spoke out about Israel’s incursion into Gaza. Some people didn’t like that I spoke out. I did speak out and I will continue to speak out and engaging with the issue. We have the American Administration who also wants to engage and wants to push forward two-state solution. We are going to partner with them to do that.”

He was dismissive that Labour’s manifesto commitment to arrest and act against those returning from fighting in Syria would be hypocritical by targeting only Muslims as it is happening now. “When I am Prime Minister there will be one law for everybody. Full treatment for everybody,” he insisted.

Likewise Miliband was adamant that Muslims should not face racial and religious discrimination when it comes to employment or suffer the most because of the austerity cuts “It is part of the law that that is prohibited. We are going to have racial equality across the Government. We will enforce it.”

“We will tackle deprivation. We will build homes, get rid of bedroom tax, raise minimum wages, build better jobs for people, have a fairer social security system,” he also insisted.

Throughout his interview, Miliband insisted that he took “extreme care” in what he said but it still did not stop him in using the generic term of “Islamist terrorism” and inferring the cause was religious rather than political when suggesting more than once it was based on “perverted ideology.”

The last Labour Government stopped engaging with many Muslim organisations at the end of its tenor and the boycott has been continued by the Conservative-led Government. Questioned about it, he assertively said he would engage.

“I will always engage with people. I really value my relationship with the Muslim community and it is a relationship I would nurture as a Prime Minister.”

In the past, the majority of Muslims in Britain have often tended to vote more for Labour. It is a party that has always tended to have the most Muslim MPs, a trend that is expected to continue with the number expected to grow to 11.

“It is very important that people vote in the general elections. Stakes are incredibly high in this elections,” the Opposition Leader said.

“If you look at what I have done as Leader of the Labour Party I have learnt the lesson of Iraq war, I said no to military action in Syria in summer of 2013 when it was controversial. I have moved forward in the position to causes of Palestinian people.”

“Our Government will be absolutely committed to equality not just in law but in fact too. We are committed to race equality strategy. That is why we are committed to breaking down barriers of discrimination,” he further said.

“If you want the Government to stand up for working people it will be a Labour Government. So I urge people to vote in the elections because it is going to be a close election and if people don’t turn out to vote the danger is that you end up with Conservatives in power. So I will ask people to go out and vote.”

7 Responses to “Labour would outlaw Islamophobia, says Miliband in an exclusive interview”

Ian Barnettt.May 9, 2015

Yippee! Labour lost.

Reply

Iftikhar AhmadMay 18, 2015

According to the CCIF Islamophobia watchdog, about 130 students were rejected from class last year for outfits deemed too openly religious. This matter can be resolved easily, instead of creating hatred I think French of all religions and non religious can coexist, My opinion is Muslims should have their own schools.

Muslim children not only need halal meat and Eid Holidays but they need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their development period also. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. Legally, the state has an obligation to respect the rights of parents to ensure that ‘education and teaching(of their children) is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.’ The schools must satisfy the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural needs of Muslim pupils. State schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers are not in a position to satisfy their needs. A good school is not just a knowledge factory or a conveyor belt for churning out exam passes – it is a community, a family. A community is held together by common values and principles.

No one has any problem when: Jews keep beards and wear their traditional caps Christian priests and nuns wear their religious outfits Buddhist monks wear orange robes Sikhs keep beards and wear turbans Indian aunties wear Sarees (cross streets and hang out in Wal-Mart) Yeah but if any Muslim male keeps beard or if any Muslim girl wears hijab then everyone has problem. It’s Freedom when you go naked but it’s extremism when you wear hijab – just plain hypocrisy! Looking at the case of France, a major secular nation, I believe it is also not allowing women freedom by not letting her to wear her choice of clothing as it supposedly “clashes with French secular values”.

Stop treating foreigners like garbage and they will stop ruining your precious country. Why did you let them in in the first place if you didn’t want them here? They left everything in their countries because of your promises. Are you so anxious to please that you can’t say “no”? I would love to see you go to a foreign land where you don’t have any friends, you don’t even know anyone and you don’t speak the language, and start from scratch.

The British establishment is wrong in thinking that Imams are to blame for extremism. Imams are not solution to the problem for extremism. Extremism is nothing to do with Imams. Extremism is not created from abroad, it is coming from within. Britain fails to help Muslim communities feel part of British society. Race trouble is being predicted by the Daily Express, because of an ethnic boom in UK major cities. Muslim communities need imams for the solutions of their needs and demands in their own native languages. Muslim parents would like to see their children well versed in Standard English and to go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. The fact is that majority of Muslim children leave schools with low grades because monolingual teachers are not capable to teach Standard English to bilingual Muslim children. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit.

None of 7/7 bombers and British Muslim youths who are in Syria and Iraq are the product of Muslim schools. They are the product of British schooling which is the home of institutional racism with chicken racist native teachers. It is absurd to believe that Muslim schools, Imams and Masajid teach Muslim children anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-western views. It is dangerously deceptive and misleading to address text books and discuss them out of their historical, cultural and linguistic context.

Bilingual Muslims children have a right, as much as any other faith group, to be taught their culture, languages and faith alongside a mainstream curriculum. More faith schools will be opened under sweeping reforms of the education system in England. There is a dire need for the growth of state funded Muslim schools to meet the growing needs and demands of the Muslim parents and children. Now the time has come that parents and community should take over the running of their local schools. Parent-run schools will give the diversity, the choice and the competition that the wealthy have in the private sector. Parents can perform a better job than the Local Authority because parents have a genuine vested interest. The Local Authority simply cannot be trusted.

Indiscipline, incivility, binge drinking, drug addiction, gun and knife crimes, teenage pregnancies and abortion are part and parcel of British schooling. These are the reasons why majority of Muslim parents would like to send their children to Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. Only less than 10% attend Muslim schools and more than 90% keep on attending state and church schools to be mis-educated and de-educated by non-Muslim monolingual teachers.

The demand for Muslim schools comes from parents who want their children a safe environment with an Islamic ethos. Parents see Muslim schools where children can develop their Islamic Identity where they won’t feel stigmatised for being Muslims and they can feel confident about their faith. Muslim schools are working to try to create a bridge between communities. There is a belief among ethnic minority parents that the British schooling does not adequately address their cultural needs. Failing to meet this need could result in feeling resentment among a group who already feel excluded. Setting up Muslim school is a defensive response. State schools with monolingual teachers are not capable to teach English to bilingual Muslim children. Bilingual teachers are needed to teach English to such children along with their mother tongue. According to a number of studies, a child will not learn a second language if his first language is
ignored.
IA
http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

Reply

    David HurlbutMay 21, 2015

    Dear Mr. Ahmad,
    I would like to invite you to read an article from the Guardian about the dangers of segregated schools in Northern Ireland:-
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/nov/29/northern-ireland-segregated-schools-peter-robinson

    Segregation of children by religion leads to prejudice and division. Separate Islamic schools will NOT help reduce Islamophobia, but would probably lead to an increase in hostility towards Islam..
    Far better to abolish ALL religious schools (including Christian ones) and ensure all children have a secular education and aim to integrate all children whatever their religious backgrounds.

    I hope you read the Guardian article. It makes some very good points about the dangers of segregated schooling.

    Regards,
    David Hurlbut

    Reply

Dale TurnerMay 19, 2015

it is no wonder labour lost this is still a christian country and to make islamaphobia a crime but mention nothing of removing hate preachers off the streets do i need to say more

Reply

AdamMay 22, 2015

David,
The need for Muslim schools is to help promote their cultural and religious identity. Northern Ireland is a different and complex case.

Reply

Ian Barnettt.May 27, 2015

islam as a culture lacks the integrity and sophistication to run its own schools parallel to the English school system. As usual, Iftikhars’ arguments and vitriol cannot be sustained and there is no place in this country for islamic children to be kept in the seventh century. islam, when you peel back the lid, has nothing to offer western society, nor does islam have anything good to offer their own islamic society.

muslims have no idea what islam is, so how can they teach it. There is no such thing as ‘extreme’ islam…… islam is islam, plain and simple. They all preach from the same book and women are second class citizens throughout. muslims were allowed into the uk en-masse on humanitarian grounds. By accepting the English (British) hospitality, they are bound by our alien principals (maybe not the rituals but certainly the principals) . muslims children born in this country who then attack this country are merely traitors. This is still a capital offence in this country. muslims bite the hand of their hosts in the west. They do not fit in and probably never will. The normal courtesies any host gives to its immigrants and foreign visitors were extended to muslims from day one but alas those days are over as it has been shown repeatedly that in the case only of muslims, they treat their hosts with disdain.

Wonderfully, that disdain is your muslim problem and not hours.It has backfired and will continue to backfire.

You are no longer welcome.

Reply

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

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