A Working Definition of Anti-Muslim Hatred – Summary

Drawing on qualitative interviews, scientific studies and Tell MAMA’s comprehensive database of anti-Muslim attacks, this REPORT provides the first substantive move towards a measurable and objective national definition of anti-Muslim hatred. It first sets the scene by engaging with the body of scientific knowledge already out there on the nature of this form of hatred before mining existing policy definitions of anti-Muslim hatred; in the UK and internationally. This, plus interviews with conducted with key stakeholders, government officials and individuals affected by this form of hostility, paint a powerful picture of how anti-Muslim hatred is manifest in the UK today and what it will take combat it.

While this report is not attempting a legal definition of anti-Muslim attacks, it bears noting that faith is a protected characteristic in British law with respect to hate crimes. How a victim, or another person, perceives an attack is, therefore, essential in hate crime and its reporting. Establishing criteria for anti-Muslim attacks can, therefore, clarify the nature and types of incident, while publicly setting out the motives and actions of perpetrators. Reassuring a minority-faith community targeted by prejudice and stereotyping – in making clear the importance and scale of this problem – is, therefore, another important aim of this report.

Relatedly, it bears noting that this report attempts to put forward a working definition of anti-Muslim hatred rather than Islamophobia. This report, therefore, looks at anti-Muslim attacks, as motivated by prejudice against Islam and its adherents. Accordingly, this report suggests against use of the broader, less delimited term ‘Islamophobia’, whose negative connotations can be vulnerable to the charge of stifling free speech and expression.

Finally, through creating a working definition and description of tropes relating to manifestations of anti-Muslim hatred in the context of hate crime work, it is hoped that this report will help raise awareness of this bigoted phenomena, both amongst potential targets of anti-Muslim attacks as well as the wider community of multicultural Britain, of which they are a part of. In short, this report seeks to set out a working definition of anti-Muslim attacks as a form of hate incident and/or crime, with examples and manifestations that can be drawn upon by victims, faith-based organisations, and key stakeholders in politics, industry, and activism.

In sum, this report urges national government and stakeholders to adopt the following workable national definition when referring to anti-Muslim prejudice or hatred:

‘Anti-Muslim hatred is motivated by hostility or bias towards people perceived to be Muslim. Manifestations take the form of online and offline attacks upon an individual or their property, which the victim perceives to be driven by hostility or prejudice toward their Muslim identity. Anti-Muslim hatred can be physical, discriminatory, communicated visually or in writing (most frequently online), and typically takes the form of the targeting of an individual on the basis of (alleged or real) faith-based actions and religious doctrines of either Muslims or Islam, with the two being interchangeable or conjoined at points.’

Professor Matthew Feldman is Director at CARR.  His profile can be found here.

Dr William Allchorn is Associate Director at CARR.  His profile can be found here.


© Matthew Feldman and William Allchorn. Views expressed on this website are individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives).