Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas on Islamophobia Awareness Month

This Islamophobia Awareness Month, Cllr Fajana-Thomas highlights Hackney’s ongoing commitment to community cohesion and addressing religious hate:

Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas OBE, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Regulatory Services

Hackney is a diverse borough where we’re proud to celebrate the communities that call Hackney home. We work closely with faith partners and community members all year round to ensure that everyone is listened to, represented and understood. 

The goal of this year’s Islamophobia Awareness Month is to raise awareness of Islamophobia and facilitate connections among individuals from all backgrounds, including both Muslims and non-Muslims. We share this important focus as part of our ongoing work actively fostering community cohesion and tackling hate crime as a “No Place for Hate" borough.

From speaking with community members, I know that bringing people together to talk about these issues is essential. To build and maintain these connections, the Council convenes the Hackney Faith Forum, which organises training, information and group discussions about shared concerns. Working in partnership with these groups means we can hear residents' feedback, share updates, and take targeted action, such as providing local mosques with more frequent community safety officer patrols. 

To hear from our residents, I and other Cabinet Members have been in contact with our Muslim leaders. Just this week, I sat down with local Muslim residents, alongside representatives from other religions and people without faith, in the Town Hall. It was a privilege to work with them to explore ways we can improve reporting of hate crime, tackling Islamophobia in schools, empower individuals to be active bystanders, and help our Muslim residents feel safe. We also talked about our new Equality Plan, which is being created to make sure we hear the voices of all our residents, including the diversity within the Muslim communities in Hackney.

Underlying all of this work is our updated Hate Crime Strategy 2023-2026, which will be considered by the cabinet next week. It builds on our ongoing work and sets out how we will tackle underlying beliefs which lead to hate crimes, increase reporting, protect people from harm and support those affected, while building community trust and confidence. We’re also continuing to provide internal training so our staff can help us lead this important work. 

Last year, we launched two new projects to support victims of Islamophobia and all other forms of hate crime. The first project, Hackney Community Hate Crime Prevention Champions, was created to support and advise victims and witnesses of a hate incident or crime; and the second project, the Hate Crime Forum, was created to ensure the Council’s work in this area is representative of all Hackney’s communities. 

Our commitment to tackling hate crime is unwavering and we are proud to recommit to Hackney being a “No Place for Hate” and becoming an anti-racist borough. That’s why we want to send a clear message that we don’t tolerate any form of hate, harassment or abuse in Hackney.

If you’ve been affected by Islamophobia or any other hate crime, please don’t suffer in silence - there are a range of services that can help you. You may feel anxious about reporting hate crime or concerned that reporting it will not make a difference, but every case helps us build up a picture of hate crime in Hackney and bring Islamophobic and racist perpetrators to justice.

If you would like to support the work we are doing to tackle hate crime and become one of our Hackney Community Hate Crime Prevention Champions or join our Hate Crime Prevention Forum please contact noplaceforhate@hackney.gov.uk 

I would also like to take this opportunity to commend the incredible work that our staff, partners and Faith organisations do across the borough. Together, we will continue to root out all forms of hate crime, Islamophobia and racism in our communities.

Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas OBE, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Regulatory Services