Muslims ‘let down by race law’

Anti-Muslim prejudice is dealt with less seriously than other forms of discrimination, a university study found. The research conducted at Bristol University examined 30 years of Government legislation and legal rulings to distinguish the difference between prejudice towards race, ethnicity and religion.

In the study, Dr Nasar Meer, research associate in the Department of Sociology at Bristol, found that Muslims are let down by race legislation because being a Muslim is recognised as a lifestyle choice or a “voluntary identity”. Dr Meer says other religious identities – such as Sikh and Jew – have had race law applied in their favour in a way not extended to Muslim communities. He said many Muslims view their faith as an “involuntary identity” as they are born into the religion.

He said: “We explored what legislation exists to help protect people with what we call an involuntary identity. People with an involuntary identity shouldn’t be disadvantaged by others’ views. The legislation should offer them support and make sure they’re not discriminated against. Muslims have been totally missed out of the protection offered by race-relations legislation because it treats Islam as a religion and not a race.”

Dr Meer said he has come across various examples of when hatred towards Muslims was dismissed but hatred towards other religions had not been tolerated.

Press Association, 31 January 2008

Download Dr Meer’s article here.

See also University of Bristol press release, 31 January 2008