WHY OUR WORK IS IMPORTANT
The past few years have seen a heightened focus on Muslim communities and Islam across the UK and abroad. The combination of terrorist attacks, war, political decisions about how to tackle radicalisation have all shaped with an intense pace how Muslims are portrayed and regarded in wider society.
The levels of social deprivation and inequality, however, continue to grow. Muslim communities continue to suffer disproportionality from inequalities in health, education, criminal justice, negative media coverage and a continued climate of Islamophobia and practical initiatives that can create systemic change, remain absent.
A significant proportion of this population lives in deprived inner-city areas, and Muslims surpass all other faith groups in levels of unemployment, economic inactivity, ill health, educational underachievement, and poor housing conditions:
The reasons for this currently are a lack of awareness and practical understanding of the specific needs of Muslim communities and other BAME marginalised communities (we’re using BAME here for ease) and understanding the importance of religious, cultural, gendered, geographical and class context.
Government departments, public services and the charity sector tend to focus their work on singular issues, but inequality crosses these silos and so solutions which focus on only ‘education’, or ‘homelessness, (for example) do not adequately address the multi-faceted inequalities which Muslim communities and other disadvantaged people face. Failing to account for intersecting inequalities, means for example that Muslim communities continue to suffer disproportionately from chronic health conditions such as diabetes or depression, costing the NHS financially. In the case of the criminal justice system discrimination has led to disproportionate numbers of young Muslim men in prison and young offender institutes. This not only ruins individual lives but affects families as well, and creates a distrust of the justice system. This is also occurs at great cost to the tax-payer. Muslim and other marginalised communities know what they need, and yet their voice is usually unasked for and their expertise remains unrecognised.
Government policies such as Prevent, instead of tackling this distrust or Islamophobia, have instead exacerbated feelings of isolation. Surveillance in places that rely on trusting relationships such as schools and hospitals means a breakdown of trust between communities and public services. This leads to services failing in their mission to treat all communities equally regardless of their ethnicity or religious belief.
There is a distrust of Muslim communities and Islam which pervades our media, society in general and services. This has led to a system of stereotyping and silencing of the diversity that exists within Muslim communities, with the most marginalised feeling the brunt of this prejudice.