Britain Has Left Islamophobia to Fester

Last year, I predicted that the impact of Boris Johnson’s words would have been one of the main reasons for the significant rise of attacks on Muslim women.

According to Rahyafte (the missionaries and converts website): 

Now it has been confirmed. Monitoring group Tell Mama confirmed as much in September 2019. Islamophobic incidents rose by 375 per cent in the week after Johnson compared veiled Muslim women to “letterboxes”, hardly surprising, given the fact that he garners support from right wing commentators such as Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins. But it didn’t stop there.

Just last month we saw a 14-year-old Muslim schoolgirl being violently attacked on her way home from school. Her perpetrators received only a caution.

In addition, the overall number of Islamophobic attacks against Muslims in the UK have intensified since Johnson came into power, which has left many Muslims fearing for the future of this country.

As a British Muslim hijab-wearing woman who has experienced Islamophobia in the past, I have no faith that Johnson will put it higher up on the agenda. The now-abandoned Conservative Party inquiry into anti-Muslim hate is almost laughable considering the prime ministers’ previous remarks about Muslims over the years, even going as far as saying “Islam is the problem”.

As long as Johnson continues to remain in power, I believe that hate against minority groups will continue to rise, and this is not an understatement. As far as I’m concerned, Johnson and some Tory MPs’ anti-Muslim comments helped to secure his Tory leadership, while satisfying potential far-right votes. According to recent polls by Hope Not Hate, 60 per cent of Tory members believe Islam “is generally a threat to western civilisation”, ۴۰ per cent want to limit Britain’s Muslim population and 42 per cent believe “having people from a wide variety of racial and cultural backgrounds” has damaged British society.

The election results saw the Conservatives win 363 seats – a staggering result compared to previous years. Tellingly, the seeds of division that parties like the Tories sowed, had sprouted. For many Britons, like myself, who had chosen not to vote for the Tories, it caused real concern about the future of our country. Under the Tories, we have had to deal with issues such as rising levels of hate, Islamophobia, racism, austerity at its highest peak and child poverty reaching record highs. Yet, those important issues have been sadly overlooked.

Johnson promised to “unite Britain” but his continued inaction in dealing with hate against minorities, racism and Islamophobia is a testament to the fact that it was one of many empty promises that he continues to make.

In addition to dropping the Islamophobia inquiry, Sajid Javid, then home secretary, has even gone on record denying that the party has a problem with Islamophobia in the first place.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi responded furiously to Hancock’s comments after he suggested that “there are others who take a more balanced approach”. I don’t blame her. The Tories fail to realise that a lack of effort in tackling the problem can give the green light for other ignorant members of society to spur hate.

Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi quite rightly argued in the House of Commons that Johnson should apologise for his racist and derogatory remarks which I am sure has led to a spike in hate crimes against minorities. Yet, despite the prime minister being repeatedly called out for Islamophobia, he still failed to acknowledge that he had personally done anything wrong, instead apologising on behalf of the party itself, before promising to deliver the now axed Islamophobia inquiry.

Accountability must be sought from Johnson over his comments that have resulted in many Muslim women being victimised through anti-Muslim hate, including myself.

It’s chilling to live under the governance of a prime minister who seems to me not only complicit in spurring hate against Muslims, minority groups and people of colour, but may also be on the brink of bringing political unrest to the country in the form of Brexit.

Now that the Britons have chosen a Tory government to lead the country, I have no doubt that Islamophobia and racism will continue to rise, especially if political parties continue to evade accountability for the impact of their words.

By Tasnim Nazeer

Source: The Independent

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