Luton Mosques convened a collaborative session with prominent regional stakeholders focused on combating Islamophobia, held on Friday, March 15th, in alignment with the United Nations’ International Day to Combat Islamophobia. Given the alarming 335% surge in anti-Muslim sentiment nationwide in recent months, the event tackled this distressing trend head-on. Notable attendees included the Chief Executive of Luton Borough along with both Members of Parliament.

The session was spearheaded by Muslim youth who courageously shared their firsthand encounters with both direct and indirect forms of Islamophobic discrimination. Following this, the Deputy CEO of the Chiltern Learning Trust provided valuable insights into their efforts to comprehend this challenge, engage with the community, and actively root out Islamophobia within educational settings. The event served as a platform for constructive dialogue, the exchange of insights, and the development of actionable strategies aimed at combating Islamophobia within our communities.

Recommendations were made to organisations in attendance to consider:

  1. Adopt the APPG working definition of Islamophobia and seek opportunities to raise awareness within the workplace of this type of hate crime
  2. Review of policies and power structures from induction through to inclusive working environments
  3. Capture and share data about hate crimes to inform Bedfordshire’s CommUNITY Meditation Service

Hazel Simmons MBE, leader of the council said: “The events at Christchurch five years ago were a reminder to us all of the constant need to be vigilant. Men, women and children murdered in their place of worship for one reason… because they were Muslims. Those evil actions against one group of people, simply because of who they are, will never be tolerated.

The world continually faces the challenge to transcend differences and show understanding and love, rather than hatred. Sadly, this is not always an easy path, but it is one we are utterly committed to as a town. One of Luton’s greatest strengths is the diversity of its communities. It is really important that whatever tensions and concerns there may be, that each one of us is able to exchange views in a spirit of respect and civility, free from hatred and incitement.

On the International Day to Combat Islamophobia we stood together with our friends, colleagues and partners to say ‘there is no place for hate in Luton.’”

Deputy Chief Constable Dan Vajzovic said: “A real strength of Bedfordshire is our rich diversity and myriad of cultures and communities. We recognise the impact that world events can have on those communities and are very aware that some will use recent events to try to divide or stir up hatred. We will not tolerate such behaviour and are committed to tackling any form of hate to maintain the harmony we have within Bedfordshire. It is crucial we stand together and work to tackle Islamophobia at all levels.

I would encourage anyone who has been victim of any form of hate crime to contact police so we can build a better understanding of this issue and work with our communities and partners to combat hatred.”

“We are witnessing an alarming rise in Islamophobia nationwide, and it is imperative that we take a stand against such bigotry,” said Abdul Ghafoor, Community Engagement Lead at Luton Mosques. “This event provides an opportunity for us to come together, share our experiences, and chart a course toward a more inclusive and understanding society.”