Tag Archives: islamophobia

Facing the facts: a reality check for the Prime Minister

In his recent address the Prime Minister expressed concerns about internal forces threatening our nation’s unity.

This led me to ponder whether these forces include those that fuelled the divisive Brexit atmosphere, spearheaded by figures like Nigel Farage and the 21st-century version of Enoch Powell.

Our country has grappled with division since the Conservative Party’s risky move in Europe, fostering deep-seated animosity. It’s crucial to recognize that this hatred isn’t isolated to a particular group, Palestinian or Israeli; it has festered for over a decade.

Austerity measures, police force cuts, and reductions in vital social services initiated this discord. The poor grew poorer, while the affluent one percent thrived, with media playing a pivotal role in alienating the most marginalized in our society.

Does Mr. Sunak genuinely believe the British people have forgotten his former Home Secretary’s statement. Suella Braverman asserted:

The British people are compassionate. We will always support those genuinely homeless. But our streets cannot be overrun by rows of tents, housing people—many from abroad—living on the streets as a lifestyle choice.

So, I find myself questioning the Prime Minister: Who chooses to be homeless, and who chooses to be born poor? The reality is, no one does.

Under this Conservative government, marginalised society faces relentless attacks. As the party falters, we find ourselves in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis, bringing ordinary folks to their knees. Our most vulnerable can’t afford to heat their homes, facing exorbitant electricity and gas bills. For many, it became a choice between heating or eating.

In a nation like Great Britain, such desperate measures should not be necessary.

The real problem, Mr. Sunak, lies in your party’s jingoism and love for populism. In Great Britain, we celebrate our diversity. When the Prime Minister urges us to face down extremists, will he start with his own party?

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27 February 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems table motion calling on Parliament to rebuke Lee Anderson’s Islamophobic comments
  • Cancer survival rates: Lib Dems will put giving UK among best cancer survival rates at heart of priorities
  • Tory support in freefall – Rob offers London liberal choice
  • Welsh Lib Dems call for action against child health inequality in Wales

Lib Dems table motion calling on Parliament to rebuke Lee Anderson’s Islamophobic comments

The Liberal Democrats have tabled a censure motion, calling on Parliament to rebuke Lee Anderson’s Islamophobic remarks and calling for him to come to the House and apologise.

The party is calling on Conservative MPs and the government to back the motion, adding that the Conservative party must “show that Islamophobia is not tolerated in Parliament”.

It comes as Anderson said that he would not apologise for his Islamophobic remarks as to do so would be “a sign of weakness”.

The motion tabled by the Lib Dems, if adopted by the government and passed by the House, would be an unprecedented rebuke of the Ashfield MP’s remarks. It would show that Parliament found the remarks unacceptable and Islamophobic and that Anderson should apologise in the House.

Liberal Democrat Women and Equalities spokesperson, Christine Jardine MP said:

Lee Anderson’s remarks were damaging, divisive and need to be called out for what they are – Islamophobic. He should apologise immediately.

British Muslims across the country deserve so much better than this. There is no place in our society for hatred like this.

If the government is too weak to call out this behaviour, the House – including Conservative MPs – must take matters into its own hands and show that Islamophobia is not tolerated in Parliament. Not go completely silent on the issue or look for a way to excuse the inexcusable.

This latest scandal proves once again that the Conservative party is not fit for purpose and is certainly not fit for office.

Cancer survival rates: Lib Dems will put giving UK among best cancer survival rates at heart of priorities

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Through my lens: navigating Islamophobia

In the aftermath of 9/11, the global surge in Islamophobia has cast a pervasive shadow over my experiences as a Muslim navigating through these mysterious and confusing times.

Growing up during the war on terror years meant that my childhood was far from ordinary. The constant fear, fueled by negative perceptions of my chosen faith, transformed seemingly simple tasks like walking home alone at night into daunting challenges. No child should bear the weight of such fear merely due to their religious beliefs.

Witnessing far-right politicians exploit Islamophobia for their gains adds another layer to this complex journey. A striking example is Marine Le Pen in France, who instrumentalised Muslims as a political punching bag. Comparing those praying in the streets of Paris to Nazis, she employed inflammatory rhetoric that not only deepens societal divides but also fosters an environment where Muslims feel increasingly marginalized and vulnerable to attacks.

In the United Kingdom, the aftermath of the Hamas attack saw a staggering 600% rise in Islamophobic events. The former home secretary’s actions further exacerbated the situation, fanning the flames of hatred towards the Muslim community.

Muslims collectively find themselves caught in the crossfire of divisive political narratives, contributing to an atmosphere of increasing hostility.

The media’s role in shaping public opinion cannot be overlooked in this narrative. A major analysis by the Muslim Council of Britain highlighted a disturbing trend of negative portrayals of Muslims in mainstream British news outlets. The Mail on Sunday, for instance, showcased a disconcerting 78% negative coverage, well above the industry average of 59%. It’s troubling to see how media outlets, consciously or not, perpetuate harmful stereotypes that contribute to the broader issue of Islamophobia.

One striking example is the comment made by Trevor Kavanagh on Rupert Murdoch’s Talk TV, insinuating that Muslims are born to be anti-Jewish. This type of rhetoric perpetuates dangerous stereotypes, contributing to the negative narrative surrounding Muslims. As a Muslim, it’s disheartening to see such comments, especially when they lack any basis in reality. It’s crucial for media figures to be held accountable for their words, as they have a profound impact on public perceptions.

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Muslims need allies

It’s Islamophobia Awareness Month. Which to be frank is not great. Sadly things have not got better since I was elected as the first female Muslim councillor in Merton in 2018. During my first term, I pushed Merton Council to accept the APPG definition of Islamophobia, but they didn’t. And there is still denial that it even needs to be defined. This is a problem if we are to truly tackle this type of racism.

Only a couple a weeks ago our candidate in the by-election in Kingston, who is a Muslim, was attacked viciously by the opposing Independent party in literature that marked him out as being unsuitable because of his faith. That night, I walked by his side as we refused to be cowed and continue campaigning. He was nervous and shaken by it all, but was also in disbelief. As we knocked on doors he remarked, “I remember that racism was quite common when I was kid but I didn’t think it was still this bad”. Sadly, I was not surprised. I have seen this type of behaviour on social media but what was shocking that this racist attack was on a leaflet. What got us through that night was the reception we had at the doors, nearly everyone we talked to who had seen the leaflet were shocked. Appalled that anyone would be attacked for simply having a religious faith.

Islamophobia, as defined by the APPG on Islamophobia, is “rooted in racism, and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” The Liberal Democrats were the first political party to accept the definition. (Proud of this!)

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When the caveats within the definition of the IHRA are misused

I wanted to share my experience of submitting a motion defining the definitions of Antisemitism (IHRA) and Islamophobia (APPG). But I decided to not add the caveats (mentioned in this Liberal Democrat Voice article by John Kelly).

You can read my speeches and the motion here.

Firstly, the IHRA definition is clear that it is not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel and lastly, I did not want to single out the Jewish community over geopolitics that they have no link with, no control over, and are not responsible for. As we did adopt the APPG definition of Islamophobia without clarification …

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Liblink: Christine Jardine: My shock at Islamophobia wrapped up in Union flag

Twice recently, Christine Jardine has visited a Mosque in her constituency.

When she’s posted the pictures on social media, the nasty, racist comments started to flow. She wrote about that experience in the Scotsman this week:

I was brought up in Glasgow where sectarianism is almost commonplace. But I had never experienced anything like this. After removing a string of offensive and abusive comments from my page, I posted another comment asking people to be more respectful. That was a waste of time. It seems my offence was to cover my head, something my Church of Scotland-going grandmother long ago taught me

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Javid’s oath is nothing but dog whistle displacement activity

With barely a trace of irony, a minister in the Government which has just passed the most illiberal snooping legislation talked about defending freedom in an article in the Sunday Times (£) today. Not only that, but he seems to think that the answer to  any problems harming community cohesion could be resolved by holders of public office swearing an oath committing them to so-called British values of “equality, democracy and the democratic process.”

He spends the first 8 paragraphs of his article having a real go at Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities, setting up the scapegoats while using the language of tolerance as a fig leaf in which to wrap the dog whistle.

This is a government, struggling to get a grip on Brexit – trying to distract us by scapegoating an entire community of people, reinforcing the horribly divisive rhetoric of the referendum. Does that sound tolerant to you?

As an aside, the phrase “British values” makes me wince – as if respect for the democratic process or support for freedom of speech was a uniquely British thing that stopped at our borders. You can’t confine a basic human instinct to a tiny little blob on the map. These universal values are exercised every day in every part of the world – and often with great courage and bravery. The women in Saudi who defy the law and drive. The people who marched in places like Myanmar and Teheran for democracy. The people who attend gay pride rallies in places where being gay is punishable by imprisonment or even death. 

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Opinion: Stand with Anna

I stand with AnnaA story is breaking in Northern Ireland where an extremist pastor has dubbed Islam as “satanic” That is reprehensible in itself but he has received support from some Unionist politicians and in particular Peter Robinson the First Minister. The Guardian reported

…Robinson, who sometimes attends McConnell’s mega-church on the shores of Belfast Lough, was quoted in the Irish News on Wednesday as describing the pastor as “someone who preaches the gospel”.

The Democratic Unionist party leader said he would continue to visit McConnell’s church.

He then went on to …

Posted in Op-eds | 69 Comments

Opinion: Fear-mongering, negative stereotyping and abuse, even in polite society

Why, in a supposedly modern civilised liberal society, are some of our journalists having to put up with alarming levels of personal abuse?

Mehdi Hasan

It is not often that I agree or sympathise with the comments of Mehdi Hasan, a vehemently tribal Labour party supporting journalist previously working for the New Statesman and now with the Huffington Post UK.

But here, he talks about something I concur with – an issue which is not written about often due to the fear of public reprisal. It is an issue of real importance …

Posted in Op-eds | 18 Comments
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