British-Muslim woman campaigns after racist murder of father

British-Muslim daughter launches #IAmMohammedSaleem campaign after white supremacist murder of father
4 min read
05 April, 2021
The daughter of a man who was murdered by white supremacists is launching a campaign and urging the British government to officially define Islamophobia.
Mohammed Saleem was killed in 2013 [BBC screengrab]
The daughter of an 82-year-old man who was murdered by a white supremacist in Birmingham, England has launched a campaign to highlight Islamophobia in the UK and urge the government to do more for Muslims facing discrimination.

Mohammed Saleem was killed in April 2013 by Pavlo Lapshyn, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder and for planting explosives near three mosques in Walsall, Tipton and Wolverhampton.

Maz Saleem, the daughter of the late Mohammed, is launching a social media campaign called #IAmMohammedSaleem to raise awareness of Islamophobia in the UK.

The campaign was introduced on her Instagram page and urges people to share their "experiences of racism/xenophobia/Islamophobia".

Pavlo Lapshyn had been in the country one week when he committed the murder.

In court he admitted to murdering Mohammed Saleem, who was stabbed to death as he walked home from prayers in the central England city of Birmingham in April.

Lapshyn also pleaded guilty to leaving home-made bombs outside three mosques in the Midlands in June and July. They exploded but no one was injured.

"I have a racial hatred so I have a motivation, a racial motivation and racial hatred," he told detectives after his arrest at the time."I would like to increase racial conflict."

The police said Lapshyn was a "dangerous and evil and completely ill-informed man".

Speaking to The New Arab, the Muslim Council of Britain said there is a "crisis of confidence within Civil society".

"There is a crisis of confidence, within Civil society up and down the country, in this government on issues related to Muslims. We must work together towards tackling this type of racism, wherever it rears its ugly head."

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"This was one of the biggest acts of terrorism on UK soil," Maz Saleem told The Guardian, speaking of her father's murder.

"Yet to this day most people have no idea about this case.

"Whenever terror-related headlines reach our screens they are often about those who identify with the Muslim faith; rarely do we hear of the merciless violence of white supremacists who took my father’s life."

People have taken to Twitter and Instagram to support the campaign.

Informal definitions

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims was established on 18 July 2017 to "examine a broad range of issues that British Muslims care about and are affected by".

A year later it published a report that defined Islamophobia in more certain terms as "rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness".

APGs are composed of both House of Commons and House of Lords members. Crucially they are "informal, cross-party groups that have no official status within Parliament, are not accorded any powers by Parliament or any of its Committees and are independent of Government".

"Islamophobia has been defined by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia and has been endorsed across civil society and by most political parties except the Conservatives," the MCB tells The New Arab.

"It is a glaring omission from our governing party who should be leading the fight against all forms of bigotry.

"It is time they show they are taking these matters seriously by adopting the definition of Islamophobia that they expressed a need for two years ago. It is perhaps unsurprising given the Conservative Party's denial when it comes to Islamophobia within its own ranks, and its apparent unwillingness to recognise the prevalence of institutional racism in the UK."

This follows an October 2020 poll by HOPE not Hate of 1,200 Conservative Party members found "widespread Islamophobia" in the party's ranks, highlighting a wider problem of anti-Muslim prejudice in the UK.

Fifty seven percent of respondents had a negative view of Muslims, 47 percent believe Islam is a "threat to the British way of life", and 50 percent believe that "Islam breeds intolerance and calls for violence".

The report also highlighted 40 examples of cases where prejudiced and discriminatory actions by Conservative Party members have resulted in either short term suspensions or no action at all.

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