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British Muslims deserve better, says parliamentary report

26th Feb 2021
British Muslims deserve better, says parliamentary report

Eight British Muslim doctors and two Muslim nurses were the first of their profession to die of Covid-19.  (Photos courtesy of families)

Hamed Chapman

A cross-party group of MPs has highlighted the excellent work the Muslim community does around the country, including throughout the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping across the UK.

“It is a testament to the great sense of community, generosity and compassion of British Muslims,” said Conservative Mark Eastwood, Co-Chair of The All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims.

“Muslim communities have risen to the challenge of the pandemic that has blighted our country this year, 2020 will be etched in our national memory as a year that changed many things,” a report by the APPG, titled Rising to the Challenge, said this month.

“The pandemic has brought to the fore the huge debt we owe to Muslims and other faith communities who labour quietly and confidently in the service of others. They deserve our gratitude for sure but they deserve more than just this,” the MPs reported.

“They should be better supported through finance, infrastructure and policies that are comfortable in dealing with religion as an equality characteristic and competently faith-literate. We need to build our way out of this pandemic by tackling structural inequalities, persistent weaknesses in the Government’s engagement strategies with Muslim communities, and financial and infrastructural support given to the charity sector, and especially Muslim-led charities.”

The cross-party group was established in 2017 to “highlight the aspirations and challenges facing British Muslims, to celebrate the contributions of Muslim communities to Britain and to investigate prejudice, discrimination and hatred against Muslims in the UK.”

However, the inquiry had proved to be the most challenging, overtaken by the effects of the Covid-19 across the world and the sudden adaptation to remote working styles, novel methods of online evidence sessions and reliance on submissions from Muslim communities who endured long periods under stringent national and regional lockdown. “With Ramadan, the two Eid festivals and the annual pilgrimage, Hajj, all being affected by various restrictions ranging from large-scale national lockdown and travel bans to regional restrictions and the introduction of tiered regulations, Muslim communities have lived their faith rather differently this year.We can state with great certainty that this has been an inquiry like no other. Muslims, like all our citizens, have experienced a tumultuous year,” it said.

The Labour Co-Chair of the APPG, Wes Streeting, said the report offered a “snapshot of the generosity and public-spiritedness of British Muslim communities during the first wave of the pandemic… It underlines the positive role that faith can play in becoming the fourth emergency service in our time of need,” Streeting spelt out, adding that the findings also highlighted “several recommendations and considerations the government needs to implement in order to have better insight and prevent potential deaths and hospitalisations in future waves of a pandemic.”

“One of the most important and urgent steps the government must take is open up communication channels with wide-ranging Muslims communities, which will be particularly important to the success of the vaccine rollout.”

The first included the recommendation that more research was needed to “determine the causes of higher mortality rates among British Muslim communities, and to investigate how this can be averted in the event of future waves of Covid-19.”

It also argued that better data collection on religion and ethnicity was needed to “ensure we can fully assess the factors that explain the disproportionate mortality rate experienced in Muslim and minority ethnic communities.”

The report further called for work needed to “alleviate socio-economic hardships amongst ethnic minority and Muslim communities to address the social determinants of ill-health and poor health outcomes.”

“Without tackling underlying causes we cannot successfully protect minority ethnic communities from heightened risk of infection and serious complications arising from Covid-19,” the MPs warned.

Other recommendations referred to the wider recognition of the specific needs of Muslim and minority ethnic communities to ensure that they were not left behind in the economic recovery, more work to promote religious literacy in the media and more support for British Muslim charities.

There were also calls for a more transparent and open dialogue with government and local authorities who often have a selective relationship with British Muslim groups, for regulations on places of worship during the lockdown to consider minority religious traditions and the needs to tailor unambiguous, clear messaging in diverse languages.

Treasurer of the group, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, said that “to save lives in the future, it is important the government implements the findings of the report” that highlighted both some of the positives during the first wave of the pandemic and as well as the Muslim communities specifically faced. “The reality of the British Muslim contribution to the first wave of the pandemic was such that across the entire nation, in almost every town and city, where there was a sizeable Muslim community; communities witnessed faith in action – with acts of giving, kindness and supporting communities in their time of need,” Warsi said.

One Response to “British Muslims deserve better, says parliamentary report”

Khadija MansourFebruary 26, 2021

We don’t need a parliamentary report to tell us that in a bid to keep us underpaid and overworked successive Tory governments who have, for decades, categorised jobs filled by BAME/Muslim workers as “low-skilled”, suddenly rebranded us as “essential” and “key” workers.
Our over-representation in those essential jobs is why we disproportionately lost a number of our medics to this pandemic, in fact, we lost people in every conceivable front line sector from transport to delivery services from waste disposal to food retail.
And what did those key Muslim workers and their families, who sacrificed so much, get in return? Vilification!
Our MPs did and said nothing as social media companies let misinformation on why Muslims had higher infection rates go rampant and uncorrected.
Never mind that we live in over-crowded housing with several generations under one roof or that many of among us don’t have the luxury of remote working. The reason for Muslims higher mortality and infection rates, the public was told, is a lax attitude to rules and guidelines.

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