Harrow Council has adopted a working definition of Islamophobia, despite opposition concerns that the wording is not “widely accepted”.

The debate on whether to adopt the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) definition of Islamophobia split the council chamber but was pushed through by the majority Labour Group.

All councillors agreed that there is no place for anti-Muslim beliefs and behaviours in Harrow and beyond, and accepted Islamophobia is present and a problem in society.

But the borough’s Conservative Group suggested that the council should wait and “work through the problems” associated with the APPG definition.

“This is an incredibly serious motion – anyone who behaves in an Islamophobic way is a despicable person,” said Cllr Paul Osborn, leader of Harrow Conservatives.

“I’m deeply proud of Harrow – the amount of faiths living and working together is a great thing.

“But we should work through the problems with this definition because, so far, it is not widely-accepted. It would be premature for us to support it at this current state.”

The National Secular Society wrote to all Harrow councillors before the debate urging them to reject the APPG definition.

Its CEO, Stephen Evans, explained that it has concerns around the claim that Islamophobia is a “type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”.

This, he noted, can be translated to Islamic practices, something he believes should be open to scrutiny and debate.

And the Government is yet to formally adopt the definition. In May, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said the issue needs “more consideration”.

But Labour councillors argued that now is the time to act since “someone has to take the first step”.

Cllr Kiran Ramchandani explained that “residents should be made to feel safe, whatever their beliefs”.

And Cllr Sachin Shah, former leader of Harrow Council, said authorities should be “standing shoulder to shoulder with Muslim communities to say enough is enough”.

The motion was brought by Cllr Peymana Assad, who, in an emotional address, explained that councillors have a “duty” to represent their constituents.

She said: “People only hate the things they do not understand – out of fear.

“And Islam is misunderstood by many because of the fear created in the minds of people by what the media say and what politicians say. Our representation also means understanding.”

She outlined several high-profile Islamophobic incidents, such as the Christchurch mosque shooting, and recalled her own experiences of discrimination.

“This is about people’s lives,” she added. “I know, if we accept this definition, we are taking one step in the right direction to call out racism against Muslims and make sure it is not normalised in our great borough.”