Stroud District Council has taken a stand against Islamophobia and will work with local educators, police and transport providers to raise awareness.
The council is also committed to strengthening its ties with local Muslim communities.
In 2018, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims published the definition of Islamophobia, the culmination of years of investigation, evidence-gathering, research and study: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”
The Stroud District Council Plan 2021-2026 makes a strong commitment to community engagement and inclusion. Stroud joins 40 other local councils across the UK who officially recognize Islamophobia as a form of racism.
Councilor Robin Layfield, who presented the Council Equality and Diversity Working Group’s report on Islamophobia at the April Council Plenary meeting, said:
“Islamophobia is the most frequently reported hate crime in the UK and is becoming increasingly visible.
“Islamophobia contributes to the dehumanization of members of our community and undermines citizenship, equality and fairness. This is one of the major obstacles to the participation of Muslims in many spheres of life.
“We want to reach out to our Muslim communities across the district and work together to make the place we all live in a more welcoming and inclusive place.”
Stroud district resident Shahedur Rohman welcomed the move. He said:
“I was delighted to hear the announcement via social media and local radio. For a long time I always had to admit that I had kept my religion to myself because there was usually not much recognition Muslims in the neighborhood.
“This is partly due to Islamophobia which is a problem in society and continues to affect people whose opinions are shaped by negative media narratives and political jokes which go unchallenged. Local politicians can play their role in choosing not to play these stories.
“SDC’s recent actions will no doubt give local Muslims some reassurance that they are welcome and as a local Muslim I welcome the Council’s commitment to engaging with the small and growing community.”
The meeting of April 28 voted:
- Endorse the adoption of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) definition of Islamophobia on British Muslims – “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or Muslimness perceived” – as well as the explanatory guidelines offered by the Coalition Against Islamophobia.
- Include training for members and officers on recognizing and addressing instances of Islamophobia as part of our regular training opportunities
- Develop and strengthen our ties with religious and community groups that represent and embrace our Muslim communities
- Promote events and messaging around Islamophobia Awareness Month (November) and the United Nations’ recently declared International Day Against Islamophobia (March 15)
The full report can be read at https://stroud.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s4812/Islamophobia%20Declaration.pdf