We still see the case where an idea spawns in some part of the country on the back of our work on anti-Muslim bigotry over the last 2 years. Much of our work has shown that visible Muslim women at a street level suffer anti-Muslim bigotry and this has spurred some groups and individuals into coming together to access funding.
Many have little understanding about how to document anti-Muslim bigotry, the risks involved in getting it wrong and how to ensure that on-line and off-line work is segmented. Some also have no understanding in how to tackle internal forms of anti-Muslim bigotry, such as intolerance openly targeted at the Ahmadi community and who simply skirt over the issue in order to say that they have delivered their project and to ensure that boxes are ticked.
Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge that people want to create change for the better whilst looking to tackle anti-Muslim bigotry. This is important work since anti-Muslim bigotry has been allowed to fester through civil society inaction and through press and political statements made at various points in the last few years.
However, what we are also seeing is that Police and Crime Commissioners who are looking for solutions to some of these problems at a local level are being lobbied by groups who will talk about tackling anti-Muslim bigotry, but who will have affiliates or members who hold views that are deeply homophobic or antisemitic and in some instances, will voice them publicly.
Playing Politics With Those Who Do Not Believe in Real Equality
Or take the issue of umbrella bodies or ‘affiliates’ which some groups will use to lever themselves into political positions with a Police and Crime Commissioner or with a local Community Safety Councillor. The use of the term localism and ‘affiliates’ means that they are usually able to press the buttons of local politicians, yet politicians must wake up and wake up fast to the fact that public funds must not be used to fund groups that have no desire in standing firm against hate and intolerance against other communities, yet who believe that they can work on anti-Muslim hate.
We acknowledge that bigotry in various forms sadly is part of human nature and that all of us must tackle it through education or by highlighting it where appropriate. This means that all communities suffer from it and within religious conservative circles, there is a higher chance that issues such as gender equality or LGBTQ rights will not be seen as rights, but as privileges that are made by people and which go against ‘God’s Laws,’ according to some in these conservative circles. Within some sections of Muslim communities this is no different and should not be used by bigots to target Muslim communities with as if it unique to them. What is of relevance though, is that access to public funding means responsibilities and this means that groups accessing it to counter hate crimes or anti-Muslim bigotry must also tackle internal forms of intolerance within the relevant communities they work within.
There is simply no point in playing politics on such matters, nor should Police and Crime Commissioners automatically assume that funding such programmes means that they can be seen to be pro-active in these areas. The use of such funding for political favour would be a slap in the face of taxpayers of this country who would want to know that if such funds were granted, they would be used for specific work purposes which would also tackle intra-community intolerance where it takes place.
Sadly, we believe that some of the groups looking to do such work by accessing Police and Crime Commissioner funds would not speak, raise, rebut or challenge internal issues of LGBTQ hate or even antisemitism. Public funding of such groups cannot be allowed to happen and this is why we are suggesting that all forms of public funding agreements stipulate that public funding, where it is to be used for hate crime work, must also ensure that intra-community intolerance is appropriately challenged and countered. Keeping quiet for the sake of keeping on board ‘affiliates’ is not a way of countering bigotry, it is a means of self-protection at a cost to cohesion in our society and this is unforgivable.