Islamophobia to be tackled by new project in Scotland

A new resource tackling anti-Muslim hate is to be launched in Scotland.

The Counter-Islamophobia Kit (CIK) is a project involving six universities across Europe, led by the University of Leeds and the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC).

It was launched at the European Parliament in Brussels last September and will begin running in Scotland after a meeting Renfield St Stephens Centre on Thursday at 7.30pm.

Al Noor mosque
Worshippers prepare to enter the Al Noor mosque following last week’s mass shooting in Christchurch (Mark Baker/AP)

The move comes just weeks after 50 people were killed in a terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand.

Arzu Merali, co-founder and IHRC head of research, who will attend the meeting, said: “The impact of Islamophobic narratives has been only too painfully felt this last 10 days after the mass murder Muslim worshippers at prayer in New Zealand.

“There are many actors in civil society, academic and other settings tackling these narratives, however institutional support for such initiatives is woefully lacking.

“Worse still, governments in European settings appear to be appeasing anti-Muslim discourse in order to benefit from the rise in populism.

“This project aims to empower those already working on these issues as well as help those in institutional settings make the changes needed if governments are really serious in providing equality, security and safety to all within their borders.”

In research from Amina – the Muslim Women’s Resource Centre (MWRC) – last week, 64% of respondents said they had experienced or witnessed Islamophobia and, of these, 74% said it had happened to them.

Women also told of having their hijab pulled off, being spat at and being told “go back to where you came from” despite being born in Scotland.

Richard Haley, chairman of Scotland Against Criminalising Communities, said: “Islamophobia isn’t just an outpouring of meaningless hate.

“Like all forms of racism, it is a political phenomenon and it carries political force.

“It needs to be understood and defeated so that it ceases to shape events unfolding across our world.

“The CIK draws on experiences gained in eight different European countries and represents a really major contribution to our knowledge base.

“Scotland is very far from being immune to Islamophobia and I hope that people working to tackle the problem will make use of the CIK in developing their own approaches.”

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