Memorandum submitted by a consortium of
Introduction: Existing Situation
1. The pre-11 September situation of Muslims
was characterised by extreme social exclusion from mainstream
activity. This has contributed towards the social isolation of
some Muslims and involvement in marginal social, political and
There is also evidence of tensions between some sections of the
Muslim community and law enforcement agencies.
Recent Home Office research confirms increasing levels of dissatisfaction
amongst Muslims (Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are used as indicators
in the research) with the police.
The Bradford, Burnley and Oldham public disorder in summer 2001
and the resulting law enforcement measures will exacerbate this
2. Post 11 September we expect an increase
in negative stereotypes about Muslims. This will result in discriminatory
attitudes and conduct that specifically target Muslims. This may
translate into: verbal and physical abuse; discrimination in the
private and public sphere; discrimination by law enforcement agencies.
It is also likely that there will be heavier policing of Muslims
(and especially, visible Muslims) and their communities.
Immediate Risks to British Muslims
3. Negative stereotypes are likely to manifest
themselves in individual attitudes and conduct in the following
Greater violence and harassment that
specifically targets Muslims. There is evidence that there has
been an increase in this type of conduct since 11 September (see
Negative images of Muslims in the
media and the public spheres, which will reinforce pre-existing
prejudice. An increase in discriminatory attitudes and conducts
by all individual actors and all institutions in the public and
the private sector.
This will exacerbate pre-existing social exclusion and isolation.
Increased discriminatory treatment
(and perception of discriminatory treatment) of Muslims by law
enforcement agencies such as the police, Customs and Excise, Immigration
officials and the CPS. The Macpherson and Denham Reports have
recently confirmed the likelihood of "institutional racism"
within these institutions. These tendencies may take an anti-Muslim
form following 11 September. This will exacerbate existing tensions
between these agents of the State and Muslims/Muslim communities.
4. We welcome any legislation or policy
initiative that will safeguard British Muslims against the immediate
and long-term risks following 11 September. The Home Secretary's
proposals announced on 15 October have concentrated on the criminal
law. We have grave reservations about the extension of the criminal
law powers and discretion of law enforcement agencies at this
time (see Sections 1-3).
5. The most pressing needs of British Muslims
relate to their extreme social exclusion. We urge the Government
to recognise the increased risk of discrimination in the post
11 September period and ensure the early introduction of comprehensive
legislation against religious discrimination (see Section 4).
Section 1: Powers to give the police and customs
services the authority to demand the removal of facial covering
6. Police and customs services officers
have powers that enable them to conduct identification and investigation
functions in pursuit of legitimate law enforcement aims. The Home
Secretary has not provided any pressing national security or law
and order reasons that justify the introduction of these additional
powers. These powers will disproportionately impact on Muslim
women who wear facial and head covering as part of their mandatory
religious obligations as Muslims. We object in the strongest terms
to the introduction of these powers.
7. These additional powers are being introduced
against a background of pre-existing and increasing (post-11 September)
tensions between Muslim communities and law enforcement officers/agencies.
The introduction of these wide-ranging and intrusive powers may
have the same impact that the stop and search laws have had on
relations between the African/Caribbean community and the police.
Section 2: Proposals to extend existing Incitement
to Racial Hatred legislation to cover "religion"
8. The extension of incitement legislation
at this particular time is unlikely to protect Muslims. We have
grave reservations about the introduction of legislation at this
9. The extension of the legislation to cover
incitement and conspiracy outside the UK specifically targets
extremist Muslim groups. Investigation and detection will require
law enforcement agencies (the police in particular) to cast their
net wider which may have two significant consequences:
Heavier policing and investigation
of the whole of the Muslim communityand visible Muslimsto
detect/investigate suspected incitement offences.
A deterrent and "chilling"
effect on the legitimate free speech of all Muslims who react
defensively to uncertainty about which speech is legitimate (and
unregulated) and which speech falls within the new legislation
(and subject to up to a seven year criminal penalty).
10. The present legislation vests a significant
amount of discretion in the usual law enforcement agencies (police,
CPS) and also the Attorney General who is a part of the executive
branch of Government. Muslims are likely to see permission by
the Attorney General's office to prosecute them as a "political"
decision taken by the State. There is also a risk that the Attorney
General's office will become more politicised given the current
political climate and tone of the media coverage. Public opinion
may create pressure to proceed with prosecutions in order to reassure
the media and the public that something is being done about the
threat of extremist groups. Muslims may perceive senior politicians
(members of the executive) as implicated in attempts to uniquely
criminalise their speech and conduct.
11. If the Government proceeds with this
legislation the Muslim community needs to be re-assured that their
free speech is not being uniquely and unfairly criminalised by
the State. The Government must introduce safeguards to ensure
that the exercise of discretion of the Attorney General and law
enforcement agencies does not disproportionately target Muslims.
The legislation should include a
Note of Guidance setting out the criteria for the exercise of
the AG's discretion.
The exercise of the discretion of
the Attorney General must be subject to scrutiny by Parliament
via the presentation of an annual report to the Home Affairs Select
Committee and the Joint Committee on Human Rights. The annual
report should include: the facts of the cases he has considered;
a break down of relevant factors by ethnicity, gender and religion;
and his reasons for proceeding/not proceeding with the prosecution.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights
should be asked to give an opinion and publish an annual report
on the practical enforcement of incitement legislation and its
compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights (especially
Art 10 ECHR).
Law enforcement agencies must be
monitored, supervised and held accountable to the Lawrence Steering
Group, which should be given jurisdiction over the proposed incitement
An independent "ombudsman"
should be appointed to monitor the implementation of this legislation.
He or she should be asked to publish an annual report which is
submitted to the Home Affairs Select Committee and Joint Committee
on Human Rights.
Section 3: Racially Aggravated Offences Extended
12. Muslims have previously campaigned for
the extension of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to non-ethnic
religious minorities. We accept that if effectively implemented
this type of legislative change has the potential to contribute
towards reducing and deterring anti-Muslim violence. This brings
the UK in line with the strategy of other European Union Member
States and many state jurisdictions in the United States. Muslims
recognise that sentence enhancement and racially (religious) aggravated
offences can make a substantial contribution to dealing with the
increasing risks of physical and verbal abuse of Muslims. If they
are implemented and enforced effectively they can send a clear
and unequivocal message that those who commit acts of violence
and harassment of Muslims out of deliberate and conscious hatred
of their membership of their religious group deserve special penalty
under the criminal law. Effective enforcement requires:
these offences be used strategically
to criminalise the most serious and culpable forms of racist conduct
of those who undertake criminal acts motivated by conscious religious
careful supervision of the exercise
of discretion by law enforcement agencies in relation to this
type of criminal power.
13. The increase in anti-Muslim prejudice
in the post 11 September period has created a substantial risk
that discrimination will taint the exercise of any additional
criminal powers that specifically target a religious group (see
para. 2 and 3 above). Therefore we have grave reservations about
the extension of this criminal power to cover religious groups
at this particular time.
14. If the Government proceeds with this
legislation despite these reservations it must introduce safeguards
to ensure that the discretion of law enforcement agencies is not
abused to target Muslims. There is evidence suggesting low levels
of satisfaction amongst ethnic minorities with the police in relation
to racially motivated crimes.
It is in the interests of the State, law enforcement agencies
and the Muslim community to minimise the risk of conflict. This
can be done by ensuring that:
the exercise of discretion by law
enforcement agencies is monitored and accountable;
there is appropriate training of
law enforcement officers about policing issues arising out or
"religious" hate crimes;
law enforcement agencies are monitored,
supervised and held accountable to an independent body which includes,
inter alia, members of the Muslim community and other faith communities;
the Lawrence Steering Group is given
jurisdiction over the relevant issues (CRR training, development
of codes of practice and all matters relating to the effective
and fair enforcement of the proposed religious aggravated offences).
Sections 1-3: Extension of criminal powersgeneral
15. An independent monitoring body should
be set up to monitor and implement the new "religious aggravated"
offences. This body should include, inter alia, representatives
of all faith communities including Muslims who are a non-ethnic
16. The Lawrence Steering Group which arose
out of the Lawrence Inquiry Report has instituted a procedure
of Ministerial Priority for all police authorities: "to increase
trust and confidence in policing amongst ethnic minority communities".
The existing scope of the Lawrence Steering group does not specifically
cover non-ethnic religious minorities eg Muslims. The scope and
jurisdiction of the Lawrence Steering Group should be extended
to ensure specific protection for this religious minority.
17. Members of the Muslim community with
expertise of criminal law, human rights and civil liberties, as
well as ex officios from relevant Muslim organisations with interest
in these matters should be appointed to these bodies.
Section 4: Anti-discriminationPriority
for Legislation and Policy Initiatives
18. Existing civil anti-discrimination law
and policy does not extend to non-ethnic religious minorities
eg Muslims. We ask the Government to recognise the increased risk
of discrimination in the post September 11 period and we urge
the early introduction of comprehensive legislation against religious
discrimination. In particular, in implementing the EU Employment
Directive the Government must go beyond the material scope of
that Directive and:
Ensure protection against religious
discrimination in all areas of life covered by the current race
discrimination legislation and policy.
Extend the Race Relations Amendment
Act 2001 and secondary legislation to non-ethnic religious minorities
(eg, Muslims) thereby ensuring that the statutory duty on public
authorities that mainstream racial equality within the public
sector also extends to religious equality.
Implement the EU Employment Directive
through primary legislation.
19. In addition, the Equality Unit should
be given special responsibility for assessing the impact of the
implementing on the EU Employment Directive on the social exclusion
20. Whichever part of Government is given
responsibility for the new legislation there needs to be special
duties to consult Muslims who face a specific danger of discrimination,
social exclusion and social isolation after 11 September.
(i) In an assessment of police performance
by ethnic group, for all age groups, Pakistani and Bangladeshi
respondents rated the police lower than other groups (see n.2
above at p.74).
(ii) "Satisfaction with police response to
sought contact was highest amongst white respondents, and Pakistanis
and Bangladeshis were the least satisfied. This trend was found
across several different aspects of police performance."
(n.2 above at p.53).
(iii) "Barely half of respondents were satisfied
with police efforts to keep them informed following their enquiry;
dissatisfaction was greatest amongst Pakistanis and Bangladeshis."
(n.2 above at p.53).
77 Performance Innovation Unit (PIU) Report: Improving
labour market achievements for ethnic minorities in British society,
at para.2, p.3. This report is referred to in references below.
The report is available at: www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/innovation/2001/ethnicity/scope.shtml-as
accessed on 3 Nov 2001. Back
Clancy, A., Hough, M., Aust, R., and Kershaw, C. (2001), Crime,
Policing and Justice: The Experience of Ethnic Minorities-Findings
from the 2000 British Crime Survey (BCS), London: Home Office,
2001). Clancy et al concluded that the British Crime Survey 2000
confirms previous research which found that ethnic minorities
run greater risks of crime than white people, though this largely
reflects the fact that minority populations are concentrated in
large cities and in particular in conurbations where the crime
risks are high for everyone, regardless of ethnicity (at p.100).
This confirms previous BCS research by Percy 1998 who concluded
that ethnic minorities generally, and Pakistanis and Bangladeshis
in particular, were at greater risk of victimisation than white
people (see Clancy at p.9). Back
Clancy et al (above) confirm: Back
The PSI study in 1997 suggested that anti-Asian (which may include
anti-Muslim attitudes) are a significant aspect of discriminatory
attitudes towards ethnic minorities. See Tariq Modood, Richard
Berthoud, Jane Lakey, Patten Smith, Satnam Virdee and Sharon Beishon,
Ethnic Minorities in Britain: Diversity and Disadvantage, London:
Policy Studies Institute, 1997 (see esp at pp.129-135). Back
See for example previous documents that argued for legislative
change, eg, Need for Reform, UK Action Committee on Islamic Affair
(published document available on request from MCB). Back
See Clancy et al at n.2 above at p.53. Back