The Government has been accused of a "pernicious form of racism" by a Bradford MP for rejecting a widely accepted definition of Islamophobia.

Bradford West MP Naz Shah (Labour) attacked the Conservatives as a "party in denial" of its own problem with Islamophobia, who are "not serious about the safety and security of British Muslims".

She revealed she fears for her own safety in an emotional speech to the Commons during a backbench debate on the issue.

She said: "If it is down to women to define the experience of feminism, the experiences of people of colour to define racism, the experience of Jews to define anti-Semitism, the experience of the LGBTQ+ communities to define homophobia, I ask the minister how dare he tell the British Muslims that our experiences cannot define Islamophobia.

"If that isn't a pernicious form of racism then what is it?"

Never before have I shared this openly, but I do question as many Muslims across this country do, which Muslim's life will be next, will it be mine?

- Bradford West MP Naz Shah

Attacking the Tory party for rejecting calls from its former chairman Baroness Warsi to hold an inquiry into Islamophobia, she said it was "hypocrisy of the highest order" when dealing with Islamophobes to "publicly suspend them and privately sneak them back in when they think nobody's watching".

She tearfully talked about the deadly attack in Christchurch in March, and read out abusive comments that were sent to her in the wake of the killings.

Ms Shah said: "I ask, which Muslim's life must go next for us to simply recognise and understand Islamophobia?

"And never before have I shared this openly, but I do question as many Muslims across this country do, which Muslim's life will be next, will it be mine?"

She called on the Government to "rethink this decision" after it rejected the definition of Islamophobia drafted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims, which has been accepted by a number of other political parties, saying "further careful consideration" over the wording was needed.


Her Labour colleague, Wes Streeting (Ilford North), accused the Conservatives of making "the same mistakes" as Labour did with anti-Semitism.

The co-chairman of the APPG told MPs: "The same miserable, inexcusable pattern of dismissal, denial and delegitimisation of serious concerns raised by prominent Muslims about racism within their ranks."

He called for the definition to be adopted more widely but Tory MP Sir John Hayes (South Holland and the Deeping) asked if it was helpful.

He said: "The debate we're having is not about the intent. Not about our shared commitment to deal with hatred or prejudice. Whether this definition, or this APPG report, moves things on or whether it doesn't.

"There are different opinions about that and not all of those opinions are spiteful or unhelpful or deliberately obstructive. They are opinions made in good faith."

Labour's Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham Perry Barr) said the "issue of Islamophobia is not defined" in the APPG's report, and said British Muslims should be proud and should "start to move away from the victim mentality and be positive about who we are".