On 19 June 2017, a rightwing extremist killed Makram Ali outside Finsbury Park Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan. It has been exactly four years since that terrorist incident. It could have happened outside my local mosque in Tottenham where we had been subjected to a number of Islamophobic incidents. We received hate mail and white powder in an envelope designed to cause alarm and fear. An individual came inside the mosque premises declaring “kill all Muslims” and another person went to the hall upstairs burning a copy of the Qur’an.
While my mosque was subjected to fairly low levels of hate, Makram Ali was not so lucky. Nor were the worshippers in the Christchurch mosque in New Zealand. And the recent murders of four members of the same family in Ontaro, Canada. All of these islamophobic incidents did not happen in a vacuum. Hatred against Muslims or Islamophobia has been institutionalised in the western media. It has become an acceptable form of racism. Muslims are also easy targets for politicians across the world from Emanuel Macron to Narendra Modi.
There are condemnations and statements denouncing such terrorist acts after they happen. However, this is rarely followed up with concrete action. In the UK, we need Islamophobia to be recognised as a specific form of hate in legislation. The All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims recently proposed a new definition of Islamophobia as a form of racism. It is high time that this is recognised in law. Our politicians need to step up and act rather than put out empty words of solidarity for their social media followers.