Islamophobia: A Challenge For Us All

Written by:
The Runnymede Trust
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In 1992 Runnymede set up a Commission to consider antisemitism in contemporary Britain. Its report entitled A Very Light Sleeper, published in 1994, carried as one of its recommendations the proposal that Runnymede should set up a broadly similar commission to consider Islamophobia.

Early in 1997 the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, under the chairmanship of Professor Gordon Conway, issued a consultative document. The final report, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, was launched in November 1997 by the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw.

It was the first time that the subject of Islamophobia had been comprehensively tackled in relation to a British Muslim population estimated at between 1.2 and 1.4 million. Sixty recommendations were put forward in the report targeted at government departments, bodies and agencies, local and regional statutory bodies, and voluntary and private bodies. It attracted, and continues to attract, wide interest and media coverage in both the UK and abroad.

Building on the findings of a consultation paper entitled 'Islamophobia its features and dangers'. This report takes on board comments and suggestions from a wide range of people and institutions. It provides a fuller explanation of Islamophobia and its consequences throughout society, and sets out recommendations for practical action by government, teachers, lawyers, journalists and by religious and community leaders.

Through the work of the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, the Runnymede Trust achieved tangible response from policy makers and the general public. For example, the Government approved the first state funding for specifically Muslim schools in late 1997, and there has been some improvement in media portrayals of Islam. The UK National Census in 2001 contained a question on religion.

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