Islamophobia Awareness Month aims to challenge stereotypes that some people might have about the Islamic faith and Muslims. The month also celebrates the positive contributions British Muslims make to culture, local communities and society.
Islam is the world’s second largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers. There is evidence of contact between the English and Muslims going back over 1,000 years, with the first large group arriving in the UK as sailors recruited from India 300 years ago. Muslims are arguably the most diverse group on the planet originating from communities all over the world including Europe, Africa, South Asia, South Africa, East Asia, South East Asia and the Americas.
Despite being so widespread across the world, there is a lot of discrimination directed at this religious group. A study has shown that in the media for every one moderate or positive reference to Muslims there are 21 extreme or negative references that occur, and this can help to promote a culture of fear within non-Muslims, which is misinformed.
Muslims can also face discrimination within the workplace and in employment opportunities, with another study showing that people with ‘Muslim sounding names’ who submit a CV are three times less likely to get the job they are applying for. A further issue across both the UK and the world is that Muslims remain underrepresented in key areas of public life – particularly in politics, broadcasting and journalism where representation would help to combat negative stereotyping.
It is important that we all recognise and stand against such discrimination. The reality is that we are lucky to have so many inspirational Islamic individuals within the UK today who have strived and made positive contributions in our society. Just one example of this is the fact that British Muslims have been ranked the top charity-givers in Britain, and it is estimated that Muslims give £100 million to charities during Ramadan each year – that is £38 per second! This generosity is even more amazing when you consider that Muslims face more poverty than other religious groups living in the UK.
At St Leger Homes, we have adopted an Islamophobia charter – along with our partners in the Council, NHS, Fire and Rescue Service and the Police – to send a message that we will not tolerate hate or anti-Islamic actions or statements. It’s a small but incredibly important step towards eradicating discrimination from our society for good.
This month and every month, we should celebrate and protect our Muslim friends, colleagues and community. Tackling Islamophobia is a big task but it starts small. It is vital that we educate ourselves on the positives of the Muslim community rather than allowing ourselves to be swayed by negative reporting and stereotypes.
To find out more, please visit: http://islamophobia-awareness.org/