A new report by the Citizens Commission on Islam, Participation and Public Life, The Missing Muslims – Unlocking British Muslim Potential for the Benefit of All, calls for:
- an independent review of the government’s Prevent Strategy
the Government to adopt a definition of anti-Muslim prejudice, to be informed by the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the Government in 2016
- Muslim umbrella bodies, such as the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB), to introduce voluntary standards for mosques and Islamic centres, focusing on governance and access for women; with support from business and other faith groups
- existing mentoring schemes, such as those offered by Mosaic (an initiative of The Prince’s Trust), to adapt elements of their service offering to address the specific needs of Muslim individuals; including employers providing mentoring of young people from Muslim backgrounds in their local communities.
Chaired by the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve MP, QC, the Commission was set up by Citizens UK to examine ways in which the participation of Muslims in the public and community life of our country, outside of their own faith groups, might be improved. Citizens UK is the national home of community organising – a network of over 350 faith groups, schools and colleges that work together for the common good.
Over the last 18-months the Commissioners, comprising high profile names from the world of business, academia, politics and faith, travelled to hearings across the UK to listen to more than 500 hours of testimonies and evidence detailing the experiences of Muslim and non-Muslim individuals.
The report includes a series of recommendations, primarily to be put into action by community and faith institutions themselves, as well as a call on business to play its part, and some key areas for action by the Government.
The report highlights how there are many factors at play as to why Muslim individuals are distancing themselves from public life and recognises that unlocking a fuller Muslim presence in and contribution to British public life could help to reduce perceptions of increasing polarisation within British society. Actions that enable the current generation of British Muslim citizens to develop confidence in their equal standing should, in turn, reduce fears around British Muslim integration and enable the wider society to reap the benefits of more active involvement by Muslim fellow citizens.
Recommendations ask business to play its part, with a call for name blind application forms and unconscious bias training to be voluntarily introduced as best practice recruitment standards, as well as encouraging staff to volunteer their expertise within and for Muslim institutions, and acting as role models and mentors for young Muslim people. Civil society including faith institutions, should share their experience through twinning schemes and support mosques and Islamic centres to improve their governance and access for women and young people. Government must also play its part, recognising anti-Muslim prejudice and independently reviewing the Prevent Strategy.