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Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia

History and reports

Origins and activities | members | review of progress | contents of our 2004 report
authorship and editing | extracts from the report | useful websites

The whole 2004 Report in PDF

Origins and Activities

The Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia was set up by the Runnymede Trust in 1996. Its first report, Islamophobia: a challenge for us all, was published in 1997 and was launched at the House of Commons by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw MP. A follow-up report, Islamophobia issues, challenges and action, was published in June 2004.

These web pages about the follow-up report are hosted by the Insted consultancy.

Other documents published by the commission include an interim report in 2001, Addressing the Challenge of Islamophobia; a list of resources relating to the events of 11 September 2001, widely circulated in the ensuing weeks; a model policy statement for schools, published on the internet; a booklet about the Race Relations (Amendment) Act, Changing Race Relations, published in summer 2002; and a leaflet for teachers and youth workers about the war in Iraq, published in spring 2003.

The commission also gave rise to the RAISE Project about the achievement of British Pakistani learners in schools. The project's handbook was launched on 26 May 2004 by Stephen Twigg MP.

The secretary of the commission in 1999-2002 was Kaushika Amin.

Throughout the period 1999-2004 the commission benefited from the advice, support and publications of several Muslim organisations, in particular the Muslim Council of Britain.

Throughout the period 1999-2004, up to and including the production of the follow-up report, the commissions work was funded by the Stone Ashdown Trust.

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Since 1999 the Commission has been chaired by Dr Richard Stone. He was an adviser to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, 1997-1999, and is chair of the Uniting Britain Trust and the Jewish Council for Racial Equality. He is vice-chair of the Runnymede Trust. The members of the commission are:

The commissions first phase

In its first phase, leading to the publication of its report in 1997, the commission was chaired by Professor Gordon Conway, vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex. Its members were:

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Review of progress

Our 2004 report notes that much of the credit for combating and reducing Islamophobia in Britain over the last few years must go to Muslim organisations, working nationally, regionally and locally. To the government also, however, must go a degree of credit. Notable developments introduced by the government include:

It is relevant also to mention changes in the financial services industry to accommodate Muslim beliefs and values relating to loans, and increased sensitivity to the dangers of Islamophobia in the media.

But its not all good news. For the opening chapter of our report some interviews and conversations were held in November 2003 around the topic of taking stock. In what ways have things got better since 1997, and in what ways have they got worse? This was the basic question. Interviewees were invited also to provide, if they wished, brief statements in writing.

There was acknowledgement in the responses of progress and improvements but also much disappointment, and a sense that in certain respects change has been cosmetic not real. Further, there was recurring reference to the negative effects of 9/11 and the ensuing wars, and of the ways in which the civil liberties of Muslims in Britain have become severely curtailed. The Muslim Council of Britain said:

"It is the view of the Muslim Council of Britain that very little progress has been made in tackling the horror of Islamophobia in the United Kingdom since it was brought into sharp focus by the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia in its report published in 1997.

Whilst we recognise the adverse impact of international politics on the perception of Islam generally and Muslims living in the United Kingdom, we strongly feel that the government has done little to discharge its responsibilities under international law to protect its Muslim citizens and residents from discrimination, vilification, harassment, and deprivation.

The legal framework required to articulate standards of behaviour and to bring about a cohesive society remains as inadequate as it was when the report was published by the Commission in 1997."

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Contents of the 2004 report

(Islamophobia issues, challenges and action, published by Trentham Books in summer 2004, ISBN 1 85856 317 8. A4 size. 100 pages. Price 12.99 or 20 euros.)


1. TAKING STOCK progress, unfinished business, new challenges

2. ATTITUDES AND INSTITUTIONS the nature of Islamophobia

3. THE INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT the impact of 9/11 and war

4. CLOSED AND OPEN approaches to disagreement


5. COUNTING recognition and statistics

6. CRIMINAL JUSTICE hate crime, policing, courts, prisons

7. EMPLOYMENT AND SERVICES ensuring equality, recognising diversity

8. IDENTITY AND EDUCATION foundations for the future

9. STREET AND NEIGHBOURHOOD aspects of community cohesion

10. DEALING WITH THE MEDIA complaints and codes

11. GETTING THERE? notes on progress, 19972004

Click here to read the whole report in PDF format (352kb)

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Authorship, editing and advice

Much of the material in the report was researched and assembled by Hugh Muir and Laura Smith. Hugh Muir works for The Guardian and was previously at the Evening Standard. Laura Smith worked until recently as a journalist at the Evening Standard and is now working freelance and studying towards a masters degree at the London School of Economics.

Substantial assistance was provided by a range of Muslim organisations, including the Muslim Council of Britain and the An-Nisa Society. One of the director founders of An-Nisa, Khalida Khan, is a member of the Commission.

The report was edited by Robin Richardson. He is a director of the Insted consultancy and a member of the Commission.

The adviser for the report was Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid. He is chair of the Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony UK and for several years was chair of the social policy, welfare and regeneration committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, and chair or vice-chair of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. He has been a member of the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia since 1996.

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Extracts from the report

Our vision | Islamophobia and race relations | Debate and disagreement

The whole 2004 Report in PDF

Islamophobia issues, challenges and action, published by Trentham Books in summer 2004, ISBN 1 85856 317 8. A4 size. 100 pages. Price £12.99 or 20 euros. Click here to read the whole report in PDF format (352kb)

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