Hello from your VP Welfare
I am Shamima Akter, your Vice President Welfare. This year, it was my responsibility to oversee our annual Islamophobia Awareness Month campaign, not just as Vice President Welfare, but also as an individual who identifies as Muslim. The Students’ Union takes a Zero Tolerance approach to Islamophobia and any other form of hate crime; we aim to work towards creating a safe and welcoming environment for all our students.
Why is this month integrated within the Students’ Union? Islamophobia Awareness Month was launched in 2012 with the aim to educate the wider population about the term ‘Islamophobia’ and what it entails. The Students’ Union also has an official policy, which was submitted by students, to run this annual campaign.
Islamophobia is a prejudice constructed as a result of ignorance, fear and hate, towards a section of a community. However, the depth of Islamophobia reaches deeper than mere prejudice. It is this notion of justification of the injustices against Muslims; systematic injustice that invades an individual’s personal and professional life.
Is this month still relevant and important? One word, yes. Post-Brexit, there has been a 57% increase in hate crimes and Muslims tend to be on the receiving end of these attacks. If we divert our attention to the media, there are perspectives taken on issues relating to the Muslim population which reinforce negative stereotypes. Also sometimes, it’s the lack of attention given to issues relating to the Muslim population, take the brutality against the Uyghur Muslims in China, where Muslims are held in literal concentration camps. Shall we bring it back a little closer to home? The Burka ban in France, one of the many countries that have taken a stance to regulate an individual’s choice of clothing due to ‘fear’. Still too far from home? Let’s bring it back home completely; there has been a drastic rise of the far right, Prevent strategies still biased against the Muslim community and Muslims still having to justify their faith at every corner of their lives. Yes, Islamophobia Awareness is a necessity.
I don’t want any of our students to feel as though their faith puts them at a disadvantage within the university or is the reason why they are vulnerable to hate. Therefore, I encourage you all to educate yourself and others, for the sake of a safer and more accepting community.
I hope to see you all at our events and please do not hesitate to contact me with any queries: