Many people believe that the EU is only something that affects people involved in politics, or it makes strange laws such as determining how straight bananas should be. However it is an institution that, like it or not, affects lives of British Muslims.
In a poll conducted by YouGov in June 2015, Muslims were the second least tolerated group in seven European countries (including the UK), with between 36-45% of people having a negative impression of Muslims. Islamophobia is thus a European problem and thus it makes sense to tackle it across nation states. Muslims across Europe also suffer appalling Islamophobia, in some ways worse than in the UK.
In 2015 The EU has appointed a Coordinator on Anti-Muslim Hatred, David Friggieri, to show it is taking Islamophobia seriously. Contrast that with the approach our Government has taken which is to worsen the problem with a raft of policies such as Secret Courts, the ‘Snoopers’ Charter’ and Prevent, not the mention the shameless smearing of Sadiq Khan and Shaykh Suliman Ghani by our very own Prime Minister in the London Mayoral Election campaign recently.
The EU has undertaken a lot of research on anti-Muslim hate crime and has put its money where its mouth is by spending £338 Million between 2014-2020 to tackle Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination. One of the growing areas of anti-Muslim hate speech is online on social media. In June 2016 the EU launched a program to more effectively tackle on-line hate speech, including anti-Muslim hatred, with Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The EU has a long history of promoting equality rights. The Equality Act 2010 says it is now illegal to discriminate against someone on the grounds of religion, so Muslims have good protection in the workplace. Obviously Muslims want this kind of protection in all walks of life, not just at work. The Equal Treatment Directive, currently being negotiated within the EU, will aim to offer this. This will be a major landmark in Muslims getting full protection from being discriminated against.
Dr Shazad Amin is the CEO of the social-policy think-tank MEND.
The EU also does a valuable job in overseeing compliance with Human Rights law across European countries through the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). If Muslim leave, they will lose the benefit of the FRA’s work on improving equal treatment for Muslims across Europe... Dr Shazad Amin argues that it is imperative for British Muslims to vote to remain in the European Union: “we cannot and should not completely switch off from ‘once in a lifetime big events which will affect us, and our children’s lives, for years to come. Such an event is the European Union (EU) Referendum on 23rd June 2016.”
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