As the sad and horrific events unfold in the Middle East, it is even more important that all our students and staff feel safe and supported on campus and in the wider community. Islamophobia Awareness Month is a national campaign to remove misunderstandings about Islam and Muslims living in the UK. But, it is also an opportunity to raise awareness and challenge the prevalence of all forms of hate.
As a University community, we are extremely concerned about the sharp rise in Islamophobic and Antisemitic hate crimes and hate incidents and we continue to work with students and staff to ensure everyone’s safety. We wish to encourage all students and staff who experience or witness any form of hate to report it.
Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM) is a campaign founded in 2012 by a group of Muslim organisations to raise awareness of Islamophobia. It aims to raise awareness of Islamophobia in society. The month-long campaign takes place every November.
In 2020, the Middlesex University Board of Governors unanimously agreed for the University to adopt the All-Party Parliamentary definition of Islamophobia, which includes the following:
Islamophobia is any distinction, exclusion, or restriction towards, or preference against, Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslims) that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.
Whilst the definition is not without debate and controversy, we believe it can help us as an institution and community to better identify and address incidents and experiences of Islamophobia.
As a University, we have a duty to safeguard our students and create an inclusive environment for all. We know that across the UK higher education sector, Islamophobia is an issue. For example, 1 in 5 Muslim students at UK universities report being the victims of verbal abuse, whilst over 25% of female Muslim students report having had to defend the wearing of hijab and niqab whilst on campus. This is simply not acceptable.
Our vision is to see a society free from Islamophobia. To support that vision, me must strive to continually build a University that is understanding and inclusive, and free from hate in all forms. That is why we are committed to supporting Islamophobia Awareness Month and helping ensure that the campaign is widely recognised.
The goal of this year’s IAM national campaign is to facilitate connections among individuals from diverse backgrounds, including both Muslims and non-Muslims, by using the transformative power of storytelling. Everyone has a story to tell and the IAM campaign wants to encourage everyone from all walks of life to take part. Your story could be your own experience, or that of someone you admire. Whether you are Muslim or not, IAM wants to hear your stories of examples of inspiring Muslim role models or making a positive change to tackle Islamophobia. Find out how you can share your story.
To complement the IAM national campaign, the university’s Changing the Culture is inviting students to take part in “We Are Stronger Together” – a project as part of its wider mission to help build a cohesive and tolerant university community for all. All students are invited to share their stories to CCI@mdx.ac.uk to help raise awareness of different cultures and perspectives and celebrate our diverse community. Changing the Culture are keen to capture the experiences and voices of all faiths (and non) and all cultures and communities. Selected stories will be showcased on the Changing the Culture webpage.
At Middlesex we enjoy a rich, vibrant and diverse multicultural and multi-faith community. Within this community we have the opportunity to learn more about the faiths and beliefs of others so that we can live, study and work better together – helping us achieve a stronger sense of social cohesion whilst celebrating our differences.
Middlesex University’s Inter Faith Network is proud to have acquired the IAM national exhibition on behalf of Middlesex University staff and students to educate and create awareness about Islamophobia. You can view the exhibition in the Quad or the Sheppard Library or view the IAM 2023 exhibition online. The Islamophobia exhibition highlights the positive contributions of Muslims and challenges faced by Muslims in tackling Islamophobia.
The University’s Inter Faith Network acknowledges the importance of faith to overall wellbeing and the contribution that faith-based groups make to the life and work of the University. The Network has been recognised with a prestigious award from the Faith and Belief Forum as part of the London Faith & Belief Community Awards 2022 and nominated again for an award in 2023 for its collaborative work with Barnet Multi Faith Forum and the wider local community. To find out more contact email@example.com
Islamophobia can take many forms, as this image highlights. It’s important that we all take up opportunities to educate ourselves and expand our knowledge.
To help you gain a better understanding of what Islamophobia looks like, and so you are better equipped to call it out, Middlesex University’s Changing the Culture has put together the following multimedia learning resources.
The University have also put together an Islamophobia Awareness Month reading list which includes books, e-books, articles and e-articles on Islamophobia as well as general resources to learn more about Islamophobia. These are great resources to help us all develop our understanding.
One of the key things you can do to help tackle Islamophobia is to report any incident of hate you experience or witness.
Visit the university’s Report.It.To.Stop.It page to find out about the various options for reporting all forms of abuse and harm (such as discrimination, hate crimes and incidents, online abuse), including anonymously, both at the University and externally (e.g. to the police or a Third party). Here, you will also find information about accessing support and further guidance.
The University, as a member of the Barnet Network of Reporting Centres for hate crime, can also help you report the incident to the police or an external party. The University will take seriously any issues within the University of anyone feeling pressured or subject to hostility or aggression whether that be by verbal or physical approaches or online. You can also use our Care and Concern process if you’re worried about the welfare of another student.
Find the campaign on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn @islamophobiaam. Please share content and use the hashtags #IAM2023 and #MuslimStories.
Visit islamophobia-awareness.org and complete the form to become a supporter of the campaign.