WATCH: Hina Bokhari describes the reality of Islamophobic abuse

Cllr Hina Bokhari is a newly elected councillor from Merton. She wrote about her first 100 days as a councillor for us here. I met her at Conference and was blown away by her commitment to diversity.

“Saying hello is not difficult.” she said in an article on the party website for National Inclusion Week as she described how she engaged with the Tamil community in the run up to the election in May. In fact, she put a lot of effort into learning and listening.

It wasn’t long before I learnt key phrases, important festivals and some basic home politics. I knew that the community had a temple and a local school. I wasn’t invited but I visited the temple. I said Wanakam to the worshipers and they replied. I spoke briefly to the priest and explained that I wanted to be a councillor and help the local community, he wasn’t suspicious or curious – he seemed pleased and he gave me his number and the temple mangers details.

None of this sounds very complicated but it does take time and willingness.

I learnt that there was going to be the annual Tamil Chariot festival on the streets. I wasn’t invited but I went anyway. It was a parade on the streets of the ward and there were hundreds of people there. I talked to the Tamil residents who stood outside their homes. I asked them about their food and sampled their dishes. I learnt!

Her commitment to bringing people together is perhaps intensified by some horrible experiences. In a video for the Liberal Democrat Campaign for Racial Equality, she describes how she was abused in the street after 9/11. She describes how her friends and family are sometimes fearful of the Islamophobia that comes their way.

As liberals we never stand by when a group of people is under attack like this. We need to understand that racism and Islamophobia is very real. We must always stand with our Muslim friends when they come under attack like this.

Thanks to Hina for describing what she has been through.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.
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One Comment

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Oct '18 - 1:23am

    Very fine new councillor and activist in our party, a multi racial, multi ethnic movement, far more diverse than it seems as few seats easy to win at national party or media obsessed level.

    We can move forward if, like our friend Cllr Hina, we emphasise diversity as unity rather than as identity that is separate or demanding something it s actually not doing, we are all different, many of us from a minority, all with unique experiences.

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