Islamophobia Awareness Month
November was Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM). The campaign aims to deconstruct and challenge the stereotypes about Islam and Muslims. The themes for this year’s IAM included Islamophobia and the student experience, the global pandemic of Islamophobia, and of course, we cannot forget the Government’s Prevent duty. Year on year, Islamophobia continues to be a social problem. Latest statistics show that Muslim hate crimes account for the most hate crimes reported based on religion, and these kinds of hate crimes have increased since the EU Referendum 2017.
City University is the home to many Muslim students, so ensuring that our University is a safe and welcoming space is a top priority. Not only this, but it’s important to celebrate our Muslim students and the sense of community and belonging that Islam brings. As a Union, we know that in order for us to effectively support our Muslim students, it's important for us to understand how Islamophobia plays out, and its different strands. For this reason, we undertook an Islamophobia awareness training provided by the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS).
Many Muslim students have been vocal and raised concerns on the recent events in France. During the month, students passed a policy to condemn the Islamophobic cartoons made of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him). The Union is now mandated to work towards ensuring that a robust reporting system is developed for racial and religious harassment.
Recognising and raising awareness of islamophobia can only be effective if we also call out the root causes of Islamophobia within our communities. One factor that contributes to this rise in Islamophobia is the Government’s failed Prevent duty, which has severely limited the engagement Muslims have in student life and change making. Prevent - a strand under the government’s counter terrorism strategy – has mandated Universities and other public bodies report individuals they think are at risk of radicalisation. However, the consequences of this are that whether it is organising events or being part of our democracy, Prevent has made Muslim students censor themselves or limit the contributions they can make on the fear of being reported under the duty. This means having less safer spaces to speak frankly about the issues that Muslim students and communities have in Britain and how we tackle them.
At the Union, we recognise and reaffirm our stance against the Prevent duty and will continue working with Muslim students to ensure they are listened to and represented.
Shaima Dallali | VP Community and Wellbeing