Kirklees Council has committed to adopt definitions of Islamophobia and antisemitism in its Inclusion and Diversity strategy.
The Council believes everyone is “equal irrespective of their race or religion” and that all forms of hate crimes must be condemned thus adopting definitions of Islamophobia and antisemitism to tackle the religious hate crimes in a “targeted and effective manner.”
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims says, “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”
Islamophobia is a growing issue, both locally and nationally. Muslims were targeted in 45% of all religious hate crime offences recorded in England and Wales in 2020/21, meaning that Muslims experience far more religiously motivated hate crimes than any other group.
Official data compiled by the House of Commons highlight that the highest rate of hate crimes for all offences recorded by the police in 2020/21 was in West Yorkshire with 374 incidents reported per 100,000.
As per the 2010 Equality Act, all councils in the UK must give due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and advance equality of opportunity for members with a protected characteristic, including Muslims, so they can participate in society on an equal footing with non-Muslim people.
Muslims make up around 14.5% of the population in Kirklees, according to the 2011 census – the latest figures available – around three times higher than the national average with only 189 people identifying as Jewish.
The motion, which was debated in March, said: “The Council believes that adopting a definition of Islamophobia is essential to tackling Islamophobia in a targeted and effective manner. Without a definition, one cannot identify how Islamophobia manifests itself and functions and therefore, cannot devise meaningful strategies to address it.
“The APPG definition should be accompanied by the Coalition Against Islamophobia’ (CAI) s explanatory guidelines to provide a more holistic understanding of Islamophobia, which can be accessed online.”
“I don’t resonate with the word ‘tolerant.’ I think we should be embracing and accepting. If there are any policies, strategies, motions that bind people together, I think everybody should be behind it.” Leader of Kirklees Council, Cllr Shabir Pandor
Kirklees Council welcomes the definition of antisemitism by the internationally recognised International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) as: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews.
“Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Cllr Shabir Pandor, Labour leader of Kirklees Council, said: “As a Council, we have a very clear inclusion and diversity policy. To me, it is about making sure that Kirklees tackle the challenges that residents face.
“It is about ensuring that we are inclusive and embrace every one of all cultures, backgrounds, and all religions. Being human is that we are all individuals, and we should embrace our individuality.
“It is only right that we adopt the definitions of Islamophobia and antisemitism in the Council. However, it goes beyond just introducing the definitions. As a Council, we strive that we are the best and most inclusive authority in England and Wales.
“We are always embracing asylum seekers and refugees. We always welcome people no matter who they are. The message is not about the two motions, but it is about Kirklees being an embracing and welcoming place.
“I don’t resonate with the word ‘tolerant.’ I think we should be embracing and accepting. If there are any policies, strategies, or motions that bind people together, I think everybody should be behind it.”