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The UK should recognize Islamophobia as a crime

by Apr 6, 2021News0 comments

The UK should recognize Islamophobia as a crime
The UK should recognize Islamophobia as a crime

On the night of April 29, 2013, Mohammed Saleem, a retired grandfather, was walking home from prayers at his local mosque in Small Heath, a Birmingham suburb.

At 82, he was using a walking stick.

Suddenly, Pavlo Lapshyn, a 25-year-old Ukrainian Ph.D. student, stabbed the elderly man three times in the back with a hunting knife, killing him.

The wound that was highest up on passed through his body.

In June and July, Lapshyn, a white supremacist who wanted, in his words, to “increase the racial conflict”, planted bombs outside three mosques in the West Midlands region, targeting the busiest periods – Friday congregations.

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He was later arrested and pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him under the Explosive Substances Act of 1883 and the Terrorism Act of 2006. He is now serving at least 40 years in a UK prison.

Saleem’s gruesome murder, which Lapshyn carried out just five days after arriving in the UK on a work visa, devastated Britain’s Muslim community.

More than 5,000 people attended his funeral.

But according to Saleem’s daughter, Maz Saleem, more needs to be done to recognise Islamophobia as a dangerous phenomenon.

She is now calling on the UK government to officially recognise Islamophobia as a crime.

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“We need to bring Islamophobia back to the table,” she told Al Jazeera. “Islamophobia has been rising longer than the [so-called] war on terror. Muslims get attacked for the way they look and dress.”

Through her social media campaign, she is urging people to post testimonies with their own experiences of Islamophobic crimes and abuse.

“Mohammed Saleem could have been any of us. That’s why we invite people to share their experiences under the hashtag #IAmMohammedSaleem.”

She also wants the UK to adopt an official legal definition of Islamophobia, a move she hopes will stop it, “once and for all.”

“We need society to recognise the weight of systematic racism that many of us experience daily.

“Islamophobic attacks don’t happen in a vacuum. Individuals are emboldened to act on their hate by government-approved anti-Muslim policies. If we want to put a stop to this, we need to put a name on it.

“How can we tackle the rise of Islamophobia without a definition of what it is?”

The campaign will run through April until the eighth anniversary of her father’s death.

Saleem was a father of seven and a grandfather to 23.

He came to the UK in 1957 from Pakistan to help rebuild the country after WW2.

“He would take triple shifts at the bakery to feed us all. He was a kind, beautiful and hard-working man who empowered his daughters to be politically aware and grateful for having a home in the UK.”

Maz Saleem is the youngest of his children and had a strong bond with him. Here

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