This article has been written by Ethan Wilkinson, Accredited Parliamentary Assistant to Nathan Gill MEP.
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to attend this event, organised by Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and the EU Parliament’s Anti-Racism and Diversity (ARDI) Intergroup, in my capacity as Accredited Parliamentary to Nathan Gill MEP.
As a practising Christian I deplore any form of religious discrimination, including intervention by the State to marginalise minorities or to implement policies which profile individuals; specifically, government strategies such as PREVENT.
IHRC reported their findings on the rise of Islamophobia, predominantly in the UK, but also in other EU member states. The report highlighted embedded stereotypes and coded discriminatory language and found that government policy and media influence actually propagate attitudes of hatred, hostility and violence towards Muslims, and indeed other minorities.
Brexit, and the reported rise in hate crimes, was discussed and it was pointed out that many Muslims are now more fearful of and are experiencing hate crime in the UK.
As the only Brexiteer in the room, I was able to offer some views on this and asked some questions of the panel.
I sympathised with the panel’s findings and agreed that there is no space in British society for discrimination, intolerance or hate towards Muslims, minorities or indeed anyone. I did draw attention to the potential for querying the figures relating to the rise in hate crimes following Brexit and I explained that my motivation was to reassert control, freedom, democracy and sovereignty. I confirmed that it is regrettable that very small sections of society in the UK, and on the continent, have used the result of the referendum to legitimise racist attitudes.
I challenged the panel to consider whether successive governments’ policies of multiculturalism and systemic changes to core values have fuelled Islamophobia, and if they thought Muslims would be able to integrate into existing communities, thereby increasing social cohesion, if we didn’t pursue the practice of multiculturalism.
I believe that we need to be able to have more honest conversations about our local communities and how to increase social cohesion. These conversations need to be frank, free from political correctness, but also free from intolerance and guided by respect.
I am grateful for ARDI and Jean Lambert MEP for organising this event and for the participation of IHRC. I look forward to continually challenging the perceptions of Brexit and the EFDD group by promoting a positive vision for Britain and our European cousins; one which includes all faiths and races.