STATEMENT BY ON EQUALITEACH
Written by Inspire FM Newsdesk on September 18, 2019
Luton organisations have come out against a government initiative aimed at young people in the town.
The EqualiTeach programme has been met by criticism from groups who oppose its implementation in the town’s schools.
A statement read: “We are concerned to learn that Luton Borough Council have commissioned EqualiTeach to work with young people in Luton around issues related to Islamophobia.
“The Luton Council of Mosques & the Luton Sunni Council of Mosques founded Luton’s Islamophobia Working Group and have led the challenge to racist and Islamophobic narratives locally.
“As a town with a significant young Muslim population, we have consistently challenged the local authority, education and school leaders to consider the impact and trauma felt by Muslim young people due to the exponential rise in hate crimes and incidents and the increased acceptability of Islamophobic discourses.
“We have, without recompense, provided training across sectors, including specific workshops for teachers, and to young people in a number of different settings. We welcome all meaningful efforts to create positive change in this area.
“However, EqualiTeach’s Agents for Change programme is funded through the Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT) fund, which comes from the government’s counter-extremism strategy.
“The Luton Council of Mosques & the Luton Sunni Council of Mosques have had long-standing concerns about our government’s approach to counter extremism and believe that this in itself has contributed to the rise of Islamophobia nationally.
“The strategy frames Muslims and expressions of our faith through the lens of extremism and suspicion, and as such is structurally racist.
“We cannot in good faith, support a programme which legitimises the Counter Extremism Strategy and its framing of Muslims as a suspect community.
“The dismantling of Islamophobia not only requires the challenging of overt displays of this type of racism, but also the rejection of the institutional structures which bolster it. To use funding from this strategy on programmes which purport to tackle Islamophobia is both insulting and morally dubious.
“We urge Luton Borough Council to be open and honest with both schools and participants about the source of BSBT funding and the objections laid out in this letter and our previous correspondence in relation to the Prevent strategy.”
Luton Council of Mosques
Luton Sunni Council of Mosques
Lantern – Muslim Women’s Voices
Dr Fatima Rajina
Attiq Malik, Lawyer & Anti-Racism activist
Luton People’s Assembly