It’s the year 2025. You have been a British citizen your whole life. You were born in Britain and know nothing else. One day you return from a holiday and Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has stripped you of your citizenship.
You ask why? They don’t tell you. You ask on what grounds? They don’t tell you. You ask if you can appeal? But you are told you have no right to appeal. You are now stateless and not only that, under Schedule 7 you have lost the right to remain silent and are forced to give up your dignity and privacy.
All you did was share a post supporting the Palestinian rights to resist oppression.
Enraged, your community rises up to support you and you feel a sense of hope. But wait, you remember Priti Patel’s policing bill has made even peaceful protests and marches a thing of the past. You realise your friends and family are second class citizens who may also be stripped of their citizenship without reason. What do you do?
These are all questions that under the home secretary’s new bill will be a reality that many will face. But if we’re being real about it, not just anyone. Inevitably it will target minority groups and those that have come to the country previously as migrants. According to The New Statements report, that’s at least 6 million people and approximately every 2 in 5 people of colour in the country.
To understand what’s really happening, let’s break down what Section 40 of the British Nationality Act has accomplished. Essentially three classes of British citizenship have been created.
- First class: Your citizenship cannot be taken away in any circumstances and only afforded to British-born citizens who have no other nationality and meaningful connection to other countries.
- Second class: You are born British, or naturalised, and also have another nationality. You can be deprived of citizenship but won’t be left stateless.
- Third class: You are naturalised as a British citizen and have no other nationality. Your citizenship can be stripped off if the home secretary believes ‘on reasonable grounds that the person is able to become a citizen of another state’ even if this actually results in statelessness.
The citizenship of those from minority and migrant backgrounds are less secure than those who belong to majority ethnic groups, which, in harsher terms, means if you are of colour, you are automatically a second or third class citizen.
Whilst this bill will disproportionately affect all minority communities, it’s no secret that Muslims will bear the brunt of it. In 2001, a rope was placed around the Muslim community’s neck. Since then, government policies have slowly worked to tighten that noose.
How? By embedding infrastructures of surveillance within Muslim communities through programmes such as Prevent and provoking the Muslim community with bans and restrictions such as Hamas being classed as a terror group. The Muslim community has been systematically attacked in every way possible, and this has forced us into a climate of fear and suppression.
You can now be criminalised by taking part in refugee rescue missions. You can be criminalised by supporting Palestine. Not only that but you can also be deprived of citizenship without being notified or right to appeal. Would that be the case if the overwhelming majority of support for the Palestinian cause did not stem from Muslims?
Wherever we go, from inside our homes, to schools, to community centres and airports we are reminded that we do not belong here, but at the same time we are criticised for not assimilating into ‘British society.’
Every cause and every value that we hold dear is being criminalised through policies that if not directly, are indirectly affecting Muslims.
It is almost as if these surveillance systems have been set up to track any reaction caused by policies made intentionally to provoke the community so that the narrative of aggression and hostility can continue. And now the government are close to having the power to deport anyone who acts in a way that moves away from the diluted narrative of Islam they wish to promote.
Our rights are silently slipping away from us, and the sad thing is, we seem to be silent about it. Will this be the case until the time when the only Muslims that remain are those who will be forced to compromise and conform without question? If we aren’t there already.
Are we afraid to lose the careers, lives, homes and on a collective level, the mosques and assets we’ve built? The Sikh community have no such fears. They seem to understand the true cost of valuing temporary assets over principles. And they are respected for it.
Islam gives meaning to every aspect of our lives and until we understand that it is our faith that gives value then we may continue to lose more.
When the execution block is not in sight it could be argued that a ‘wise’ response is necessary. Now the intention is clearer than it has ever been, and it is my humble view that unless we start to make an active stand today, It should come as no surprise if tomorrow we hear of a ban against the hijab or if the Quran itself is classified as ‘terrorist material.’
The late Dr Crane sums this up beautifully: “Justice is about change, and there is a lot of Injustice in the world. If all you want is stability then you will maintain all the injustice in order to stabilise it.”
That aside, let’s forget ourselves for a second and think about the people on those boats, the majority of whom are our Muslim brothers and sisters fleeing oppression. Are we going to stand by as their death sentence is being signed right in front of our eyes?
“There are three categories of people; Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.”
We as a community often find ourselves in the last category. We only start agitating when the train has already left. There’s not much time to act. If we fail to raise our voice now, this bill sets the precedent to a time where we can quite easily imagine we’ll have no voice to raise at all.
So do what you can to learn more about the new bill. For more information on the matter, click here.