Rabbi calls for new government definition of Islamophobia

Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi for Reform Judaism, called on faith groups to “lobby government for a clear definition of anti-Muslim hatred"


A senior rabbi has called on the government to adopt a clearer definition of Islamophobia in a similar way to how it has defined anti-Jewish hatred.

Speaking at an Eid-ul-Adha celebration event in Parliament on Tuesday, Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi for Reform Judaism, said: “For years the government has taken antisemitism seriously.

“This year we had an endorsed government definition of antisemitism, along with guidelines. But what we need to demand is a parallel system for our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

She called on faith groups to “lobby government for a clear definition of anti-Muslim hatred, so that the situation is clear, along with the government’s opinion”.

Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Brexit, told the event organised by a Muslim charity he was shocked about the under-reporting of hate crime in faith communities.

Mr Starmer, who served as Director of Public Prosecutions from 2008 to 2013, said: “The cases that actually come to public attention are the tip of the iceberg.  So many more go on, unreported and unacknowledged.

“That is bad enough, but what is worse is that incidents have sadly gone up.”

He said he was concerned about the rise in anti-Muslim hate crime in his own constituency, Holborn and St Pancras.

“We have had attacks that I didn’t think would happen,” he said.

The MP said he believed the Brexit vote had created divisions among communities which had to be fixed.

″Whatever you voted, one of the tragedies of Brexit is the way it has emphasised division and difference and different communities.

“I think that we all have a duty to work together to bring our communities back together, to bring our country back together, and deal with some of the hatred that has fallen out of that.”

Rabbi Janner-Klausner said Jews and Muslims needed to work together to combat hate crime.

“Jews and Muslims are bound together, not just by culture and religious values, but by the same stories. What affects Muslims affects Jews, and what affects Jews affects Muslims. If one of us is hated, we are all hated,” she said.

Anna Soubry, Conservative MP for Broxtowe told guests she felt white Britons had lost their faith.

“I think the vast majority of people born in Britain have lost their faiths, not in the Jewish community or the Muslim community.

“But in the community that I come from, which is a white, British Christian community, many people have lost their faith.”

She said people could learn more from the Muslim community in order to make the UK a more tolerant country.

Ms Soubry said prejudice and hatred in society had come “from people who don’t understand what it is to have a faith, or be part of a faith community.

“We need to remind British people that we were all from communities of faith. Even if we have lost that faith, the values we share are the same. It is those values of tolerance and openness that we should celebrate.”

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