LABOUR’s Anas Sarwar has backed calls for the Government to work to a formal definition of Islamophobia.

The MSP was gave evidence to MPs and peers in Westminster last night.

Speaking to the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, Sarwar argued that a failure to define Islamophobia risked “allowing those with ill-intent to define it for us”.

Sarwar, who chairs the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia, told the MPs: “There is no formal definition of Islamophobia and I’m keen to work with parliamentary colleagues both in Westminster and Holyrood to fix that.

“A failure to define Islamophobia risks allowing those with ill-intent to define it for us. But it’s also important to define Islamophobia so there is a clear reference point for the legal system when considering any hate crime or incitement cases.

“Defining Islamophobia will help to demonstrate to our diverse communities that we as lawmakers recognise Islamophobia exists and that it will be challenged.

“Once we can move past the debates on whether Islamophobia exists or not and what it means or how it manifests itself, we can then focus on debating how it is challenged. It will help focus minds on the solutions rather just on the problems.”

Last year the Government said attempts define Islamophobia had not “succeeded in attracting consensus”.