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Opinion: How Can British Muslims Help Stop Anti-Asian Hate?

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It is our moral duty to ensure that we speak against narrow-minded prejudices that harm others. In the UK, there have justifiably been many solidarity protests for the Black Lives Matter movement, and it’s important that we extend this support to other communities facing hostility based on their race, ethnicity, faith, or gender.  

The murder of six Asian American women at massage parlours in Atlanta prompted protests over rising rates of anti-Asian violence in America. Since the shootings, the hashtag #StopAsianHate has trended on Twitter.

Alongside this, it has prompted conversations about the important issue of Sinophobia, which means fear or dislike of China, Chinese people, and Chinese culture. The outbreak of coronavirus, which originated from China, has meant there has been an increase in anti-Asian crime around the world.

I have personally had heated arguments with some individuals about their attitudes towards Chinese people when they make ignorant comments like: “I’m not going to go near a Chinese person in case I get coronavirus.” According to an Ipsos MORI poll, one in seven people in the UK would avoid people of Chinese origin or appearance.

Furthermore, an inequalities report from the advocacy group End the Virus of Racism states there has been a 300 percent increase in COVID-related hate crimes towards people of East and South-East Asian (ESEA) descent since the pandemic started. 

In the past, the UK government hasn’t really shown much support to the ESEA community. In October 2020, Parliament held its first-ever debate to discuss the racism experienced by the UK ESEA community. According to Vice, not a single Conservative MP or government minister turned up.

In January 2021, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order with the Justice Department to collect data on hate crimes and harassment directed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). In addition, it was announced yesterday the Department of Health and Human Services will also provide $49.5 million to programs helping AAPI survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, and the National Science Foundation will spend $33 million to study bias and xenophobia. President Biden will also establish a COVID-19 Equity Task Force committee addressing and ending xenophobia against Asian Americans.

The UK government needs to follow in America’s footsteps and take action. There are currently no charities in the UK that focus on tackling racism against people from ESEA communities. The UK government needs to work closely with organisations such as End the Virus of Racism that want to support victims.

Their proposal encourages the UK government to conduct an independent public inquiry into the rise of hate crime against people from ESEA heritage. As a result of this, they want to put forward policy recommendations to ensure that action is taken on a national level. If you would like to sign their petition, please click here.

It’s important that we reflect on what Islam teaches us about racism. In a sermon, known as the “Farewell Address,” Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) outlined Islam’s basic religious and ethical ideals:

All humans are descended from Adam and Eve. There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, and no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except on the basis of personal piety and righteousness.” 

It is our moral duty to ensure that we speak against narrow-minded prejudices that harm others. In the UK, there have justifiably been many solidarity protests for the Black Lives Matter movement, and it’s important that we extend this support to other communities facing hostility based on their race, ethnicity, faith, or gender.  

As Muslims, we can empathise due to our own experiences of severe Islamophobia. Therefore, it is our responsibility to urge the UK government to take action and garner support for the Stop Asian Hate movement.

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