With some very credible arguments being made for leaving the EU, the ‘leave’ campaign focused on immigration with a heavy xenophobic tone to the fear of many British Muslims. This article is a thought on what the exiting of the UK means to a British Muslim, in this unsettled climate of prejudice and xenophobia.
Dubai – the profound exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union confronted the world on Friday taking away any doubt that Britain is a divided kingdom and the referendum was a wrong call by prime minister David Cameron. Nonetheless the debate highlighted many legitimate grievances on the economy and immigration, however many young British Muslims felt ominous about their security and welfare at home at some of the prevalent rhetoric.
With the results unfolding, uncertainty had gripped both leave and remain campaigns, to a much hurting audience whom mistrust politicians. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan had repeatedly highlighted ‘leave’s inadequacy of lacking a ‘plan of action’ regarding jobs and the economy. The unambiguity of leaving the EU led Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon to announce a second ‘independence referendum highly likely’. Bris Johnson on the other hand trumpeted fears of uncontrolled immigration and acerbically questioned returns from financial contributions to the EU.
It has been almost ten years of austerity with imprudent politician’s mishandling jobs and failing to regulate pay rises leaving many people in Britain feeling frustrated. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn put it ‘many of the poorest communities in Britain had the biggest cuts in government expenditure to support their local authorities and at the same time refused any special help to help with issues like school places and health places’. The war unfolding in Syria had exacerbated the tidal wave of fear, which had been surfed successfully by the ‘leave’ campaign to build their argument without including Britain’s vernacular Muslims.
The cleavage between the nations’ harsh reality based on political action or lack of it and their humanitarian duty to mankind, had grown so wide leading to the fanatical murder of Jo Cox. Current affairs have cast a dark shadow on the suffering experienced by traditional textile and steel workers, many including Muslims, congruent to mining and shipbuilding trades of the north, neglected in a north-south divide. Is it at all supporting that the north of England supported a Brexit?! The ‘leave’ campaign has been swift to arouse national sentiment and use it tactfully and in many ways unethically. UKIP’s Nigel Farage used a poster showing ques of refugees, has been reported to the police with complaints that it incites racial hatred and breaches UK race laws according to an article in the Guardian. However, this shouldn’t deter young Muslims, construing an easy target against strong prevailing xenophobic winds.
Britain’s Muslims have suffered as much as anybody else and their skin has toughened with every event, home and away. Muslims should embrace Brexit, delivering more on what it means to be a British Muslim. I can’t help but think this outcome is a mere fixable interruption to our connection with Europe and its old Muslim communities. With hard working ethics innate to Islamic and British culture, perseverance to the highest seats in the land has never been greater. We’re celebrating Moe Farah and Sadiq Khan with more in pipeline.
This article is written by El-Zafarani Osman