MP's Debate New Islamophobia Definition
Adopting a new official definition of Islamophobia could hinder our counter-terror efforts, a leading police chief has said.
MPs are due to discuss the new definition today at Westminster.
Martin Hewitt said the proposed wording could 'undermine many elements of counter-terrorism powers and policies' and it could prevent authorities from shutting down extremist groups or conducting searches at ports.
Mr Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said an official wording could weaken terror laws and prevent stop-and-search at ports, The Times reported.
The term was 'perhaps misleading in the context of hate crime... hate crime seeks to protect Muslims and not Islam,' he warned the Prime Minister.
Critics say it could restrict legitimate debate about Islam and confuses criticism of the religion with hatred of individual Muslims.
Advocates of an official definition believe it could help Muslims report crime against them and improve relations between Islamic communities and the government.
A group of opposition MP's led by Labour's Wes Streeting and Anna Soubry of Change UK have pushed for an official definition.
The group, chaired by Ms Soubry, recently published a 72-page report arguing that 'the lack of a widely adopted working definition... has led to an increase in Islamophobia in society to devastating effect'.
A definition would mean 'British Muslims would be able to trust the government, which would assist in decreasing the disaffection British Muslims often experience in relation to the government,' the authors claimed.
'Not recognising that Islamophobia is a specifically racial and religious form of discrimination leaves Muslims vulnerable to abuse without recourse to legal or political remedy,' they said.
The Muslim Council of Britain is backing the calls for an official definition.