ADOPTING a legal definition of Islamophobia could hit terror investigations, warn police.
National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said in a letter to prime minister Theresa May that that adopting a legal definition could prevent authorities from shutting down extremist groups, reported The Times.
The term was “perhaps misleading in the context of hate crime… hate crime seeks to protect Muslims and not Islam,” he warned the prime minister.
The definition from the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims is: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”
The group believes that not recognising Islamophobia as a religious form of discrimination leaves Muslims vulnerable to abuse without recourse to legal or political remedy.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats have adopted the definition, but Conservatives are yet to do so.
The Muslim Council of Britain has backed calls for an official definition of Islamophobia.
Reacting to Hewitt’s remarks, Harun Khan, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said police had misunderstood the proposed definition.
“Mr Hewitt is reported to be of the belief that anti-terrorist operations would be hampered if the proposed definition of Islamophobia is adopted,” Khan was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
He said: “If true, such a view belies a woeful misunderstanding of the proposed definition. We find it quite extraordinary that such a public intervention is made without even engaging with those involved in the definition.
“Our understanding is that the police and security forces will rightly fight terrorism based on intelligence and a scrutiny of the evidence. Anti-terrorist operations can only be ‘hampered’ if counter-terror officers have been targeting Muslims because of their identity (or Muslimness as the definition states), categorising them as security concerns. If this is the case, it confirms long-voiced concerns about the disproportionate focus and impact of counter-terror operations on Muslim communities.”