Islamophobia & Anti-Semitism: An Event at ICC

Dr. Mozammel Haque

An event on Islamophobia & Anti-Semitism, organised by Home Office in cooperation with Islamic Cultural Centre, London, on Thursday, 18 October, 2018, at the Library Conference Hall of the Centre. The event was chaired by Mr. David Chapot. The event was addressed by Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre & London Central Mosque; Rabbi Herschel Gluck, OBE, President of Shomrin and the Founder of Muslim-Jewish Forum and Aysha Esakji from Counter-Terrorism, Home Office.

 

The event was started with the recitation from the verses of the Holy Qur’an by Sheikh Lutfur Rahman Kazi, an Imam from the London Central Mosque.

 

David Chapot

David Chapot, as the chair of the event, first of all spoke about the similarities of the two faiths, Judaism and Islam. He said, “Both faiths emphasize on the Oneness of God which is considered in Islam as Shahadah or the First pillar of Islam has been the One God and then in Judaism it is Shima which is the Building Blocks of Judaism which is again the invocation of the One God.”

 

After speaking about the belief, Chapot talked about their practice. He said, “We are also talking about the two which in many ways worships through prayer, prostration, through fasting, pilgrimage and all the way through to dietary. The things that struck me are actually the similarity through not only things that makes these great the wonderful but unfortunately in terms of some of the challenging that these two community face.”

 

“Fortunately both the Muslim community and the Jewish community have the history of understanding of what it is to be victims of hatred and targeted by act of hatred,” said Chapot and mentioned, “very worrying point to 40% rise in religiously motivated hate crime; 52 % of these are directed towards Muslims and then anti-Semitic act are the second largest group those.”

 

Chapot then mentioned about an act of terrorism. He said, “Act of terrorism is also part of the worrying picture.” He mentioned the “terrorist attacks committed by Darren Osborne at Finsbury Park is an example the Muslim community is directly targeted; equally if you read about the recent arrest of members of groups of Nazis’ actions. This again is a clear reminder of the threat Neo-Nazism continues it today.”

 

Hate is serious and important topic of the time which deserves attention. The Hate toward the Muslim community is this important topic. Chapot said, “We will actually to discuss how we can tackle this together; obviously this can happen through a number of different initiatives, through reporting; community initiative; education; but hopefully by the end of tonight we will all must have greater idea what is currently happening and what more all we can possibly done.”

 

Chapot introduced the first speaker, Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan as the Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre & London Central Mosque since 2001. “In this role, he introduces several remarkable initiatives, many of which focus on interfaith works and fostering on and understanding between the faiths and if it is not enough Dr. Dubayan also serves as trustees to several UK charities,” said Chapot.

 

Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan

Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director-General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London & Regent’s Park London Central Mosque addressed the gathering and spoke on Islamophobia. He started with Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahe wa Barakatuh.

 

Small Global Village

Speaking on Islamophobia, Dr. al-Dubayan first of all explained how the modern world turns into a small global village and how modern technology brings them together. He said, “In this modern time when the entire world comes closer to each other; countries come closer to each other politically, economically, technologically, now the modern technology also brings them together. We are not now in a world of like before, i.e. anybody can live isolated, or live by alone from other people, from other countries, or other communities, or other societies; you cannot today. You have to live within the world; so what was said during the 50s that the world is going to be a small village; it’s now happening today. When we think about this as a principle; that means, of course, we expect from this world which is going to be a small village is to have more chances to know each other; have more chances to have knowledge about each other; and Islamophobia or Anti-Semitism they are really against this directly.”

 

Equality of Mankind

Dr. al-Dubayan while going into the subject of Islamophobia, he traced the background of Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism. “Islamophobia is one of the phenomenons that we are having in these days. Of course, it is not totally new; it started long time ago; some centuries ago, but actually in the modern time, in the last thirty years we see it now more and more. There are, of course, many reasons for this. I do not want to discuss that too much.”

 

Dr. al-Dubayan then talked about equality of mankind and how Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism are against that very principle. “Allah Subhanahu wa Taala created you in races, nations, so that you can know each other; not of course to fight each other, not to hate each other. And one of the main things in Islam very clearly said in the Qur’an and in the Hadith, the Traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), i.e. people are equal; there is no superiority or inferiority for anybody either he is white or black, Arab or not Arab.”

 

Dr. al-Dubayan explained how Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism go against this fundamental principle. He said: “This is very clear in Islam; very clear in the Qur’an and very clear in the Traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him); and we believe also this is the message of all religions revealed to Mankind. We are all equal in humanity; we are all the same. We see this Islamophobia or Anti-Semitism is really against this. It is one of the phenomenons we should really as communities to stand together against and really try to clarify this and try to fight it by all means and by all possibilities.”

 

History of Anti-Semitism

Going back to the history of Anti-Semitism, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned hatred is the basis of this. He said, “Let me recall something from history; anti-Semitism. It started in the nineteenth century; it was something like Islamophobia today. Anti-Semitism was the hatred for the Jewish people in Europe at that time. That time actually nobody stood against it clearly and using all the possibilities and possible means during those days till that led to what we know about it, of course, in the thirties and the forties when the holocaust happened.  This is going exactly what we have fears. That is going to lead to the same result of Islamophobia if actually in Europe we leave it as it is and we don’t fight it; or we don’t try all the possibilities possible solutions to stand against that.”

 

“If people of the world had stood against anti-Semitism in the nineteenth century or in the early twentieth century, we would not have seen actually the result that we had seen during thirties or forties. I am sure about that. Many people ignored it or neglected it or supported it even,” said Dr. al-Dubayan and added, “I think the future of Europe and the whole world really is in danger if we, or if the world really remains silence against all these movements against certain people in the world, either sectarianism or Islamophobia, or anti-Semitism.”

 

“Any movement actually against any race or any nation in the world is really something which must be stopped and must be addressed and we should not really be quite about it. In Europe, unfortunately recently, we see there is really a rise of Right-wing, you know, in all Europe; in many countries; and we are really so worried; all Muslim communities, not only Muslims, but also many people, Jewish community are also worried, and other people are so worried about it; what is going to happen after this; is this going to continue?” Dr. Al-Dubayan raised the question.

 

Misunderstanding and Misinterpretation about Islam

The ICC chief mentioned the reasons for this happening. It is misunderstanding and misinterpretation particularly about Islam. Dr. al-Dubayan said, “There are, of course, many reasons for this; most of them are economical reasons; sometimes misunderstanding; and we as Muslims suffer a lot from this misunderstanding and misinterpretation particularly about Islam in the media and this misunderstanding and this narratives really in the media which supports this misunderstanding of Islam worrying us too much. I think this disserve also all the interfaith and dialogue works we are doing in this organisation.”

 

Role of Faith leaders

Speaking about the role faith leaders can play, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “There are many leaders in all the communities; Muslim community, Jewish community, Christian, Hindu, Sikhs and others. Many of them are really leaders in dialogue and they are always trying to open more spaces for understanding and for knowledge about others. But these people who support this Islamophobia feeling around us, they are killing the chances more and more.”

 

Talking about the facts and figures of the rise of Islamophobia, Dr. al-Dubayan said, “Really shocking that number; we know 40% the hatred crime really increase since 2017. This shows us actually the situation in the society and at the same time this shows us how big the responsibility we have all against this; especially the authorities, especially the security authorities, or authority for securities. There are lots of things that could be done.”

 

Build a Common Culture among all the

Communities – suggested Dr. Dubayan

Under this present situation, Dr. al-Dubayan has suggested some of the things which should be done to bring peace and tranguillity within the society. First of all, he suggested to build a common culture among all the communities about Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. He suggested, “I believe we really need to build like a common culture among all the communities about Islamophobia and  anti-Semitism, about any kind of hatred targeting anybody, not only Muslims or Jews, but anybody, any kind of hatred. This cultural hatred must be stopped. And this actually retrieving history. History could be a very good teacher if we really learn from it; but history could be also a big and crazy monster if we try to bring the history as it is and live within the history itself. This is very dangerous. And I don’t need to refer to some countries in the world what is happening there; because of something happened a long time ago, a history sometimes a killer if we don’t understand.”

 

“So building a common culture and awareness in all the communities about this thing; we have to show really the face of the faiths; faiths must speak up and must be talked about it. Every faith leaders must educate his community through the organisation about this phenomenon about themselves; Islamophobia, anti-Semitism; this must be addressed by Imams, by Rabbis, by Priest, by also Monks and by everybody,” said Dr. al-Dubayan.

 

Internet and new initiatives

The ICC chief then talked about internet and new initiatives. He said, “We need also to clarify this misunderstanding about Islam itself; we are doing a lot, but this is not enough. Now there is also the internet. Internet is a school which is available but it can teach something good and can teach something bad. So how to encounter this? How we can stand against that or clarify all situations? How we really can reach these people who spread hatred and targeting people? We really need to think about that; we need to have initiatives.”

 

Youth must be addressed and

Home Office has big responsibilities

Dr. al-Dubayan also suggested about the youth, the young children. He said, “I think it is very important we target young children, the youth. The youth must be addressed. They must learn something. Some people really teach the youth course how to hate others; and how they think they see somebody from that faith this must be tackled; we must address that policy.”

 

“Home Office also have big responsibility about fighting against that by all means and by all possibilities. This must be stopped one way or another. And I think that we too to do it about more awareness and more knowledge about other people and continuing this communication; giving more chance for faith leaders really to talk; may be more than politicians. Politicians sometimes make things big difficult; faith leaders sometimes; sometimes I am saying, make it really easier than better,” mentioned Dr. al-Dubayan.

 

Tolerant voices must be welcomed

Dr. al-Dubayan also suggested welcoming the tolerant voices. He said, “These tolerant voices must be raised and must be welcomed. This is actually the model we have to follow; we have to raise it and we have to always highlight among the society, and especially targeting the fresh mind, the youth mind. They are really the future. So we have to build for the future from now. Very very important.”

 

Spread the Message of Tolerance

While concluding his speech and welcoming all speakers, friends, ladies and gentlemen, Dr. al-Dubayan again mentioned, “I think it is a very important issue; and if we don’t convey the message; this message of tolerance from community to community; from each community to another community, I think we are going to fail. When we fail then there is really something very dangerous for all the societies and for all of us; because we are all standing on one boat and hatred does not know borders. When you allow for it; it will go actually destroying and I think the history and in the present time there are lot of examples and all of you know this example. We don’t want to happen again, either in the UK or anywhere else.”

 

Rabbi Herschel Gluck

The next speaker was Rabbi Herschel Gluck, President of Shomrin, Founder of the Muslim-Jewish Forum, who started with praising Dr. al-Dubayan as a “true champion who is trying his very best to build bridges and to work with other communities to make London a truly cosmopolitan city, a city where we do not live not only side by side but also engage with each other. Many years ago I said the Jews and Muslims are so similar that we even hate each other the same way.”

 

Rabbi Gluck also mentioned, “When Jews and Muslims have a very narrow relationship that leads often to conflict and misunderstanding but when we get to know each other better and when we deepen our knowledge of each other that leads to a constructive engagement between our communities.”

 

Rabbi Gluck, President of Shomrin, then mentioned about the murder of Lee Rigby the soldier who was murdered by terrorist in south-east London. Rabbi said, “Then the EDL organised a number of marches and attacks Muslim institutions and mosques. My organisation, Shomrin, arranged special petrol of Jewish people along with Muslim institutions to protect them; to make sure that they will not be attacked.”

 

Rabbi also mentioned another occasion when US Ambassador to the UN named Powell while making a speech in Vienna praised the works of Shomrin telling that, “Shomrin understood that an attack on one minority is an attack on every minority,” said Rabbi Gluck.

 

Rabbi Gluck also mentioned about caring for each other. He said, “Caring for the other. We care for the other because we feel if we don’t care for the other, we will be the next victim of that wild animal of fascism, of racial hatred is going to devolve us. That is the more sophisticated, a more profound idea for caring for the other and that is the God created us all and we are all special. All has some special to give to the world and to the society.”

 

Rabbi Gluck also mentioned, “God has created us in His image.” Rabbi does not believe in the idiom that the stronger will survive and the weaker disappears into history. He said, “As believers we know that we exist not because we are the strongest; we exist because God created us and He created us in His image. Like He is Merciful and Kind, so we also have to be merciful and kind. And that is the secret of survival.”

 

Rabbi Gluck also mentioned the secret of survival is to be charitable, to help others. He said, “The secret of survival is to be charitable; to help others; to make the world the better place; to make the world the kinder place; to make the world more peaceful place. We live in a society where people are scared of others. We come into the UK; we all most Jews children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, were refugees and both Muslims are either refugees or people who came here as economic migrants; because then British needed workers in the textile mills in Lancashire, in Yorkshire looking for work; looking to help this country as bus drivers, as shop owners, as business people; but when we come to this country people are scared; their thoughts are different from our thoughts.”

 

Rabbi Gluck also said, “We exist because God created us in His image; He did not create us in the image of one another; He created us in the image of God. Therefore, every single human being whether he or she might be, whatever their background be, whatever their skin colour is, whatever they think, we all are created in the image of God; and our existence is to thanks to Him who created us each other; otherwise whoever he or she may be. All are in His image. And therefore, when we look at the other; we are not looking as someone different, we are looking as someone is the same; because we all are created in God’s image and therefore, we look at the other we are looking at ourselves. Because we all truly a part of God.”

 

Aysha Esakji from Counter-Terrorism, Home Office

Aysha Esakji, OBE, working as part of Hounslow and Fulham Chelsea Council for over 10 years now. She has been a variety of crucial and difficult roles ranging from hate crime and community engagement. Aysha spoke more about hate crime and community awareness

 

She said, “In reality that 40% I have in my ten years of being a hate crime coordinator have experienced many many reasons why people don’t reported and today I am going to focus on why we should report the hate crime. We actually want to know what the hate crime is. Why it should be reported and once it happen.