Edinburgh's independent student newspaper

Islamophobia Awareness Month comes to an end 

blue background outlining islamophobia awareness month in orange
Sunday 12th December 2021 22.55
Updated Wed 5th Jan 2022 20.07

CW: Islamophobia, hate crime 

The Student’s Association marked its first recognition of Islamophobia Awareness month this November. 

Several events were set up by EUSA in collaboration with Edinburgh University Islamic Society (ISOC) to commemorate the month. 

The events included both online and in-person discussions surrounding Islamophobia - the causes, the cures, identity and allyship. 

The events had a number of new and reoccurring guests, speakers and organisations. 

The first online event on the 10th of November was hosted by Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) providing a safe space for talks surrounding the causes and cures of Islamophobia. 

A forum on ‘Being a Muslim’ with panellists Alex Krabbendam, Umar Malik and VP Welfare Aisha Janki Akinola was held at the Chaplaincy.

ISOC also collaborated with RACE.ED for the event Islamophobia, Prevent and ‘Us’ in which multiple academics discussed the ‘Prevent’ terrorism method set up by the UK government and how it affects British Muslims. 

The final event also took place at the Chaplaincy on the 23rd November, entitled Let’s Talk: Islamophobia and the Importance of Allyship. 

Invited speakers were Aisha Janki Akinola, Nadin Akta and Ali Kassem who all shared their thoughts regarding islamophobia and how to be an ally to the community. 

After initial introduction, the panellists were given questions, one being: 

“How do you find that Islamophobia affects you as a person?” 

Kasseem spoke of realising the impact of Islamophobia through his study of colonialism. 

Aisha Janki Akinola added her input on stereotypes, myth and misinformation speaking of the “ripple effect” of Islamophobia, and made a powerful comment about the pinpointing of difference within our university and wider-society: 

“While I’m just trying to be Aisha, people see me as Aisha: the black, Muslim woman who wears the Hijab and who’s different.”

She also added her discontent with the term ‘minority’:

“There are Muslims all around the world, there are black people all around the world, we are not the minority.” 

Personal stories and anecdotes of experiences with Islamophobic hate crime were shared by Nadin Akta, moving the panellists and audience. She emphasised the importance of reporting hate crime saying:

“Police should be aware that these things are happening. Not reporting, that means it’s not happening.” 

Focus was given to the adoption of the APPG definition of Islamophobia that has been adopted by EUSA who are now pushing for university-wide recognition of the definition. 

When discussing allyship, Aisha mentioned the importance of “taking that proactive step to actually intervene” when someone is a victim of Islamophobic hate, “that’s one way to actually be an ally.” 

The floor then opened for questions as discussions broke out regarding education surrounding allyship, anti-homophobia and Islamophobia within political parties. 

This was the first time Islamophobia awareness month was recognised within the institution but talks of making it an annual event have started. 

Multiple resources on Islamophobia awareness month have been provided by MEND at www.islamophobia-awareness.org/resources/

Victims of Islamophobia are also encouraged to visit the Advice Place or email advice@eusa.ed.ac.uk

Image courtesy of The University of Edinburgh Islamic Society