UK Politics

Islamophobia is a threat to democracy

This letter has been published in The Guardian

We are concerned by the rise of Islamophobia, the negative coverage of Muslims in the media, the violent street mobilisations of extreme rightwing organisations like the English Defence League, and the rising electoral support for the British National party (The battle for Barking, Weekend, 13 March). Following Channel 4’s recent inflammatory documentary, Britain’s Islamic Republic, which saw concentrated attacks on the East London Mosque, the English Defence League marched through central London with placards including the demand “Close the East London Mosque now”.

The East End of London is not new to having its communities attacked by fascists and the media. The 1930s saw the Battle of Cable Street when Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts attempted to march into the Jewish community in the area. We cannot allow this terrible history to repeat itself. Further, the documentary, and articles since, have attacked the participation in politics by the Muslim community. We cannot stand by and watch this continue without remark or action.

In the runup to the general election, all parts of the population should be actively encouraged to exercise their votes. That is democracy. We welcome the work of organisations who work to this end. We call for solidarity and support for those organisations that work to encourage political participation from all sections of society, including Muslims, and condemn those who seek to undermine it.

Ken Livingstone
Bonnie Greer
Dr Abdul Bari Secretary general, Muslim Council of Britain
Brendan Barber General secretary, TUC
Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC
Dr. Edie Friedman Executive director, Jewish Council for Racial Equality
Diane Abbott MP
Neil Jameson Executive director, London Citizens
Jagtar Singh Sikh Secretariat
Tony Woodley Joint general secretary, Unite the Union
Bruce Kent
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC
Professor Eric Hobsbawm
Louise Christian Christian Khan solicitors
Billy Hayes General secretary, Communication Workers Union
Rabbi Lee Wax
Anas Altikriti Spokesperson, British Muslim Initiative
Caroline Lucas MEP
Professor Avi Shlaim
Lord Nazir Ahmed
Kate Hudson Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Andrew Stunell MP
Ismail Patel Co-ordinator, YouElect
Claude Moraes MEP
Rev. Alan Green Chair, Tower Hamlets Interfaith forum
George Galloway MP
Musleh Faradhi Central president, Islamic Forum Europe
Jean Lambert MEP
Salma Yaqoob Leader, Respect party
Jenny Jones AM
Steve Hart Regional secretary, Unite London Region
Andrew Murray Chair, Stop the War
Bell Ribeiro-Addy NUS black students officer
Sabby Dhalu Joint secretary, Unite Against Fascism