This week on BBC Radio’s Moral Maze we discussed Islamophobia. The anti-racism campaigner and former head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission Trevor Phillips, whose own inquiry first cemented the use of the word Islamophobia into British public life, has now himself been accused of this thought-crime.
On the Maze, we didn’t discuss his particular case so much as the issue of the word itself. Does it actually describe a real prejudice, or is it used to silence legitimate debate about the Islamic world? Does it seek to prevent not just hostility towards Muslim people but any criticism of Islam? Should opinion about any religion or body of ideas ever be silenced? Is it really an act of prejudice even to question this?
Our witnesses were Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, an imam from Leicester and Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain; Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Faith Matters and founder and former director of Tell Mama; social scientist Dr Myriam Francois; and Mohammed Amin, chairman of the Islam and Liberty Network and former chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum.
The discussion became somewhat heated, particularly with one witness…
My fellow panellists were Matthew Taylor, Mona Siddiqui and Tim Stanley. You can listen to the show here.