Hina Bokhari AM interviewed by The Guardian

Hina Bokhari, Lib Dem London Assembly Member, has been interviewed in The Guardian along with other female Muslim politicians. This is in response to the report that Nusrat Ghani MP was sacked as a minister because of her “Muslimness”.

Hina says:

I had never experienced racism until 9/11: I was walking home when someone shouted: “[P-word] go home” not far from my doorstep. After that it got more frequent. During the 2018 World Cup, a drunk man got right in my face saying: “Listen [P-word], go the fuck home.” I’ve had problems on the job, too. When I was campaigning I would hear those same phrases about going home. And there would be micro-aggressions such as: “Your name is too difficult” or supposed banter about immigrants taking our jobs. Brexit was a particularly bad time.

Sometimes Islamophobia is a lack of understanding. So, in 2020, I wanted to get people within the Liberal Democrats to experience Ramadan for a day. People – including Layla Moran and Ed Davey – fasted for a day and tweeted throughout. Streams of hatred came back in response. People were asking Ed if he wanted four wives – and saying far worse to Layla. Ed and Layla felt not just the experience of fasting, but the hatred too.

I was shocked that I was the first Muslim woman elected in Merton council – and one of the London assembly’s first Muslim women. Are Muslim women less likely to be elected? Or less likely to put themselves forward? When I talk to Muslim women, there’s a fear of being abused.

People have said in the past I should change my name. But I would never do that. When Michael Fabricant said that Nus Ghani wasn’t obviously Muslim, I tweeted: “Yeah – coz all us Muslims look the same!” I think what he meant was that she was the kind of Muslim that didn’t make him feel uncomfortable.

In the London assembly we’ve got a very good understanding of Islamophobia. It helps having a Muslim mayor. But there is still inconsistency. Whether you are Jewish, Muslim or from any minority group, you should be heard, respected and, if there’s an incident, action must be taken. Our struggle is a shared struggle.

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  • Thank you Hina for reminding people that some strong prejudice against Muslims exists and cannot be ignored. The so-called Islamists have made the situation worse. I am pleased to hear that there is a good understanding of this matter on the London Assembly; that needs to be spread around the country.
    You rightly say that Brexit debate was a particularly bad time and although he uncovered what was there under the surface anyway, Nigel Farage encouraged prejudice of various kinds by playing on people’s fear of immigrants. When the BNP had 9 councillors on Stoke city Council, next door to where I live, their Islamophobia spread around for a while; it seems to have subsided now but I still support the North Staffordshire Campaign Against Racism and Fascism. I hope other Lib-Dems support similar groups around the country.

  • This was a very powerful article, which stayed with me for a while after I read it. I’m sorry Hina that you’ve had to go through such awful hatred.

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