Brexit is fast becoming like an Indian drama, with the typical twists and turns, that never seem to end. A marriage lasting many years is undergoing a messy divorce, with all the family members crawling out of the woodwork. Everyone has something to say; “give it another chance”, “end the relationship”, or that nasty little aunty ‘stirring the pot’.
With the absence of a clear prenuptial agreement, the divorce package is looking as ‘sticky’ as the agreement between Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels.
Immigration was the actual debate in the referendum, it was not why cucumbers are more expensive in Leeds compared to Madrid, neither was it a ridiculous EU legislation comparing which type of horse meat is legal to eat.
The debate was and continues to be about the millions of people coming through the floodgates and stealing ‘our jobs’, taking valuable school spaces, placing more pressure on the NHS and taking limited social housing.
A simple look out of the window, into the Muslim community, shows most of the faithful are from places where the sun shines hotter than Skegness. They are either immigrants (or offspring of immigrants) and that is why we have seen spikes in racism and Islamophobia.
The Independent revealed figures warning that minority groups felt “more vulnerable than ever” after Brexit.
Police figures obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests show a surge in incidents, by 23% from 40,741 to 49,921 in the 11 months after the EU referendum, compared with the same period the previous year, marking an unparalleled rise.
Eleven of the 32 police forces in England and Wales, that responded to the FOI requests, saw reports of race and faith-based hate crimes increase by more than 40 per cent. Several regions including Gwent, Nottinghamshire and Kent witnessed incidents soar by more than half in a year.
Anti-Muslim hate monitoring group, Tell MAMA, reported a 326% increase in ‘hate’ related incidents in 2015 and warned Brexit could make it worse.
This survey found that while far right activists are often behind the incidents online, the number of offline incidents rose from 146 to 437, which is a staggering 326% in 2015 alone. These incidents were recorded at schools, colleges on public transport and in general daily life for Muslims young and old.
Tell MAMA said the effect on Muslim women (particularly those wearing any Islamic clothing) was now so serious that many were being prevented from conducting “day to day activities.”
British politicians played the mood music well.
The ex-Prime Minister, David Cameron, was not innocent in his contribution of creating a ‘hostile environment’ for Muslims. Cameron’s use of the word ‘swarms’, to describe refugees, echoed from the ghost of Enoch Powell.
The blonder than blonde Boris Johnson’s Brexit campaign, focused on immigration, scaremongering the British people by claiming Turkey was a hop and skip away from joining the EU. This notion has always scared European Christendom, which Boris stoked again with posters of the Turkish border next to Iraq and Syria.
The beer swigging, Benson and Hedges smoking Nigel Farage, pulled no punches either. His anti-migrant “breaking point” poster was reported to the Police for allegedly inciting racial hatred. Even Sayeeda Warsi told the BBC “This kind of nudge-nudge, wink-wink xenophobic racist campaign may be politically savvy or useful in the short term but it causes long-term damage to communities”.
It was the Conservative party and the Leave campaign, that gave a loudspeaker to racists who hurled abuse at ‘Abdul’ and ‘Aisha’. It is open season now to use language that Alf Garnett would have shouted out in the 80’s, whilst reading the Daily Sport at the breakfast table.
Brexit indeed should matter to the Muslim community, because if anybody has been affected by Brexit, it is them. Engaging in the debate, highlighting the hate and exposing the lies is fundamentally important. Playing an outside role in the Brexit debate is not a characteristic of a vibrant political community, it is quite the opposite.
We should be in a space where the Muslim opinion is aired in an articulate and balanced way. Actively writing opinions refuting negative narratives to news outlets and social media platforms should be the norm.
Past and current colonial adventures of the British government have contributed to an ever growing global refugee crisis, which is conveniently being ignored by politicians. They should be reminded of this!
Our Identity should not be hidden, rather it should be something to be proud of and the negative stereotypes challenged. Myths and stereotypes should be challenged around immigration, race and faith, especially in our workplaces, educational institutions and in our communities.
The contribution of the Muslim community should be celebrated amongst the wider society by promoting the Islamic traditions and values that illustrates the Muslim heritage.
The World Cup might not have come home, but the language and bigotry of the past certainly has.