LONDON: Lord Singh of Wimbledon, has warned that Sikhs, who “do not have a culture of complaint”, risked “falling off the Government radar”.
While there had been parliamentary debates on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia at Westminster, he questioned the status of other communities.
The independent crossbencher made his remarks amid calls in the House of Lords for the Government to adopt a formal definition of Islamophobia, similar to the one accepted for anti-Semitism.
It follows recent figures showing a rise in the number of police-recorded hate crimes and other Islamophobic attacks.
The Government does not endorse a particular definition of Islamophobia, highlighting the need to reach a consensus or broad acceptance.
Campaigners argue an agreed definition would help initiatives to tackle Islamophobia.
Speaking during a debate in the upper chamber, Lord Singh said:
“We all sympathise with the suffering of the Muslim community, encapsulated in the word Islamophobia.
“It’s our common responsibility to tackle it but to do so we have to be very clear about its meaning, and the definitions suggested, to me, are still vague and woolly.
“If we don’t have a clear definition, Islamophobia, the word, risks being seen as an emotive word to get public sympathy and Government resources.
“Unfortunately, it is a fact that some communities use Government funding to produce questionable statistics to show that they are more hated than others. With groups like Sikhs, who do not have a culture of complaint, falling off the Government radar.
“We have seen debates on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. What about other communities? Shouldn’t we be thinking about all communities, or only those that are in more powerful positions?
“My belief is the Government must be even-handed.”
Commenting on the debate, Communities Minister Lord Bourne stated:
“No government would want to rush into this. We really do need to get this right.”