Islamophobia – prevalent, far reaching and evermore emboldened. It is the specific and systematic targeting of Muslims and the Islamic faith, which continues to strengthen in oppressing those who simply wish to practice their beliefs, free from discrimination, surveillance and criminalisation.
Our education systems, often thought of as being catalysts of progressive knowledge and spaces for critical reflection are not exempt from harbouring, maintaining and shielding Islamophobia in its many forms.
Therefore, at London Met we are committed to increasing our institutional understanding of Islamophobia, which will be underpinned by decisive, direct action to eradicate it from our University.
The first step of our journey was marked by our adoption of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia in November 2020. Prior to this, it was not part of our institutional vocabulary and thus not recognised for what it is – a form of racial and religious discrimination. We consider this the bare minimum, and will be embarking on radical changes to address this.
Defining the complexities, nuances and mechanics of oppression that account for both the overt and more subtle manifestations is a task that does not come without considerable challenges. As such, there has been much debate and discussion on how best to define Islamophobia which suggests how complex and multifaceted Islamophobia is.
London Metropolitan University was the first UK university to have adopted a definition of Islamophobia – voting to recognise the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims’ Definition in November 2020.
"Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”
– APPG definition of Islamophobia
Adopting a definition does not solve Islamophobia itself, however having a recognised term as part of the institutional vocabulary, allows those within the university to begin to develop a nuanced understanding in order to collectively embed anti-oppressive practices. Importantly, a formal recognition creates avenues through which Muslim students and staff can discuss, lodge complaints and expect to have their experiences understood - only then does the definition provide a useful basis.
Institutionalised: The Rise of Islamophobia in Higher Education is a comprehensive report that examines the complexities and manifestations of Islamophobia throughout the Higher Education sector. It seeks to examine the experiences of both Muslim students and staff. The report draws on seminal sector data that allows, for the first time, intersectional analysis across both race and religion. Additionally, shared lived experience forms the heart of the research, centering the voices of Muslims in the sector.
Institutionalised also comprises original primary research that specifically examines Islamophobia at London Metropolitan University, mapping the ways in which religious and racial discrimination can impact key junctures of the staff and student lifecycle. A series of non-exhaustive recommendations are presented, enabling the University to directly act upon the findings. The report has been written with accessibility in mind, therefore Institutionalised offers in-depth background into Islamophobia, catering to those who may know little about this form of discrimination, to those who may be well versed.