We voice concern about adopted definition of Islamophobia

April 26, 2019

Humanist Society Scotland has written to the First Minister to express concern over a definition of Islamophobia being endorsed by Scotland’s political parties and being considered for formal adoption by the Scottish Government.

Yesterday MSPs from all of Scotland’s political parties endorsed the definition and the First Minister said she wanted the Scottish Government to formally adopt it as well.

In the letter, Humanist Society Scotland highlighted concerns regarding the definition, in particular, the fact that it does not sufficiently differentiate between:
(i) prejudice and discriminatory actions against people who identify or are identified as Muslim, and (ii) criticism of the beliefs, ideas, and practices that might fall under the umbrella of Islam. It, therefore, poses a risk to freedom of speech and thought and of religion or belief.

It also fails to consider the impact upon former Muslims, for whom being able to question, criticise, and openly oppose Quranic teachings and expressions of Muslimness can be an important aspect of their identity, can help them to come to terms with abuse they have experienced, and is a legitimate expression of their new religion or belief.

Faith to Faithless founder, Imtiaz Shams, commented on the definition in January 2019, saying:

This definition is problematic in a number of ways, the most significant of which is that it fails to sufficiently distinguish between criticism of Islam and prejudice towards Muslims. As such, it fails to protect freedom of speech and freedom of religion or belief. We hope that the Home Affairs Select Committee considers these problems and focuses any definition on discrimination and hate against Muslims or people perceived to be Muslims.

Imtiaz Shams, Faith to Faithless founder

Faith to Faithless is a community group working to raise awareness of the issues faced by those who leave high-control religious groups or cults, including ex-Muslims.

Humanists UK briefing on the definition for further information

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