ANTI-ISLAMOPHOBIA campaigners set out their own manifesto yesterday ahead of the June 8 general election calling for a reversal of policies which stoke anti-Muslim prejudice — whoever takes power.
The Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) manifesto suggests a raft of policies that could help stem the impact of years of prejudice stoked by press barons and enforced by legislation.
Mend’s proposals include better protections for Muslims facing bigotry and a shift towards properly investigating incidents of anti-Muslim prejudice.
And the charity is calling for a full review of the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act so it incorporates religion, homophobia and disability hate crime on top of existing definitions.
Mend’s manifesto strongly criticised the disproportionate use of stop-and-search powers by police on minority communities, which it says can result in religious stereotyping.
The group said: “Government data shows around 20,000 people were detained upon entering Britain last year, 88 per cent of them non-white” and slammed the Tories’ so-called snoopers’ charter as a “regressive step.” It wants a curb on government powers to spy on people’s internet history.
Mend said: “The politics of hatred and division that have characterised political discourse both during and since the 2016 referendum cannot be allowed to continue.
“We call on all political parties to adopt the recommendations as policy commitments, in order to address these critical issues within their policy development and implementation strategies.”
The Mend manifesto is matched in several areas by that of the Labour Party, which was released in full on Tuesday. Labour has pledged to protect the Human Rights Act, as requested by Mend, in contrast to Theresa May who has threatened to replace it with a vague “British bill of rights.”
Labour said that as “the party of equality” it will “seek to build a society free from all forms of racism, anti-semitism and Islamophobia.”
“We should all be deeply troubled by the rise in racially aggravated attacks and race hate crime in the past year.
“Anti-semitic incidents are also on the rise once more and we are committed to combatting this trend with adequate resources and firm political will.”
Labour has promised to recruit 10,000 more police and to ensure that police powers “do not weaken our individual rights or civil liberties.”
Mend is also calling for political parties to make interfaith awareness a bigger part of learning in schools, as well as for initiatives in the classroom to tackle Islamophobia.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) also launched its own list of key issues affecting Muslim communities yesterday.
A spokesman from the East London Mosque Trust said: “The topics highlighted in the Mend manifesto are deeply rooted in issues that matter to the Muslim community.
“Muslims should work with the relevant political parties to not only engage in the democratic process but to ensure the community’s interests are also heard.”
MCB is encouraging Muslim communities across Britain to register and vote as well as to lobby local parliamentary candidates to adopt MCB policies.
Responding to the manifesto, Unite Against Fascism secretary Weyman Bennett told the Star: “It’s very important that people make their voices heard.
“A large percentage of the Muslim community speak out against racism, but fail to go to the ballot box.
“Jeremy Corbyn has done speeches at mosques. Many other politicians would do well to follow his lead.”
Mend has organised a series of local hustings across the country, starting from tomorrow in Swansea from 6.30pm at the YMCA, 1 The Kingsway.
The charity has produced a list of questions for communities to use when interacting with prospective parliamentary candidates.
Last month, Mend launched an online reporting system for victims of Islamophobia, which can be found at mend.org.uk