The daughter of a Muslim who was killed by a white supremacist while walking home from evening prayers at a Birmingham mosque is launching a campaign for the government to adopt an official definition of Islamophobia.
Mohammed Saleem, 82, was killed in April 2013 by Pavlo Lapshyn, who later planted three bombs outside mosques in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton.
Saleem’s daughter, Maz Saleem, is launching a campaign called #IAmMohammedSaleem to highlight Islamophobic hate crimes and put pressure on the government.
She is urging people to post short videos and testimonials on social media during the month of April against Islamophobia.
Lapshyn was convicted at the Old Bailey in October 2013 for the murder of Saleem, for causing an explosion with the intent to endanger life and for engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorist acts, and was sentenced to a minimum term of 40 years.
Lapshyn killed Saleem just five days after arriving in the UK from Ukraine as a skilled engineer on a 12-month job at a company in Birmingham’s Small Heath area.
In its judgment comments at the Old Bailey, Judge Sweeney told Lapshyn: “You clearly held far-right and white supremacist views.” He added about Saleem’s murder: “The crime was committed in the course of a series of acts of terrorism.” Maz Saleem has said that she wants her father’s murder to be recognized as an act of terror.
The all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims produced a report in 2018, proposing a working definition of Islamophobia / anti-Muslim hatred in 2018 and recommended that this definition be adopted. “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets Muslim expressions and Muslim perception,” he said.
Maz Saleem said of her father’s murder: “This was one of the greatest acts of terrorism on British soil. However, to this day, most people have no idea about this case. Whenever terrorism-related headlines hit our screens, they often refer to people who identify with the Muslim faith; We rarely hear about the ruthless violence of white supremacists who took my father’s life. “
Mohammed Saleem, who had seven children and 23 grandchildren, was described as a highly respected member of the community. “An important start would be for the official and legal recognition of Islamophobia to be finally adopted by our government. Ignoring Islamophobia as a category is disrespectful to all these brutal murders of Muslims, it weakens justice for the relatives who are left in mourning, ”said her daughter.
“For my family, the suffering is compounded by inaccurate descriptions of my father’s murder, and each time we are fired for incorrect information, it further undermines my father’s death.”
A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: “Islamophobia has been defined by the all-party parliamentary group on Islamophobia and has been endorsed by civil society and most political parties, except the conservatives. It is a flagrant omission of our ruling party, which should lead the fight against all forms of intolerance.
“Perhaps not surprising given the conservative party’s denial when it comes to Islamophobia within its own ranks, and its apparent unwillingness to acknowledge the prevalence of institutional racism in the UK. There is a crisis of confidence within civil society across the country in this government on issues related to Muslims. We must work together to tackle this type of racism, wherever it rears its ugly head. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism