NEW DELHI, India, June 14 (IPS) – In 2015, as Rabina Khan was running as an independent candidate in the Tower Hamlets municipal elections in London, a male voter asked her what color her hair was under her veil. Rabina answered and said, it was pink. This little interaction is what inspired Rabina to write her book, My Hair is Pink Under This Veil.
The book is about a Muslim woman living in the UK and how she reconciles her faith with British culture to build a successful political career amid blame, prejudice, ignorance and misogyny. Rabina Khan, through her own personal experience of wearing the hijab, also highlights outdated views about Muslim women, questions notions of what a Muslim woman can and cannot do, and also questions the stereotypes.
“The reason I answered this way was to question the idea that Muslim women wearing the hijab had no interest in hairstyles, bright colors or fashion,” Rabina Khan said in a commentary. interview.
“There has always been this narrative around Muslim women that we are seen as oppressed, we have no life, we do not anticipate becoming professionals in different sectors or that we become politicians. Women like us, women of color, women of faith, have difficulty in society in general because we see stereotypes, racism and prejudice, ”Rabina said.
Over the past few years, the UK has seen Islamophobia increase at a very disturbing rate. In 2011, Lady Warsi claimed that Islamophobia was socially acceptable in Britain, and “passed the table test”.
In 2015, the Muslim Council of Britain warned against increasing levels of Islamophobia in the UK after the posting of some videos showing anti-Muslim abuses in public transport.
UN experts warn of “sharp rise” in hate crimes across the UK, following the Brexit vote in 2018. The UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance, E. Tendayi Achiume, said: “It was worrying that the anti-migrant rhetoric and anti-foreigners developed around the campaign for Brexit had become mainstream in society, going so far as to add that hate and stigmatizing speech had “normalized” – even involving some senior officials “.
In 2019, a week after the Christchurch Mosque attacks in New Zealand, the number of people reported hate crimes against Muslims in the UK increased by 5.93%. Muslims in Oxford, Southampton and Colindale, north London, had reported “gun gestures or the sound of guns being directed at them.”
Last year in 2020, a file of more than 300 allegations of Islamophobia against Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other members of the Conservative Party had been referred to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to initiate a formal investigation.
Another Labor Muslim Network report, which is the largest group of Muslim members and Labor Party supporters in one of its reports, said that more than one in four Muslim members and Labor Party supporters – 29 percent – have experienced the Islamophobia in the ranks of the Labor Party, “out of ignorance and systemic racism, which may not be overt but exists.
Just a few weeks ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a qualifying apology for the offense caused by his past remarks on Islam, including a 2018 newspaper column in which he called women wearing the burqa “walking around like letterboxes” and likened their appearance to bank robbers. A report in 2019 found that Islamophobic incidents had increased by 375% in the week following Boris Johnson’s article, with 42% of racist abuse reported on the streets of the UK referring directly to his language.
“Her comments (by Boris Johnson) had a profound effect and a detrimental effect on Muslim women, and in particular on veiled Muslim women,” says Rabina.
“It’s really important that politicians pay attention to how they portray Muslim women, and believers, whether they are Hindus, Sikhs, Christians or Jews, they have to be careful because by demonizing people you are pushing people away. and not with you.
“There are 3.3 million Muslims living in the UK today, making billions in contributions to the UK economy, we are a huge population and we are a large electoral sector which should be valued and respected. So while I welcome Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s apologies, I also give credit to the Conservative Party, as it was the party in government that introduced Sharia funding for Muslim communities. to fight Islamophobic behavior, ”says Rabina.
For British Muslims and people of color, hate crimes against minorities have become a new normal in the country. Many have chosen to leave the UK as it has become “too dangerous to stay”. Hate crimes have now been extended to East and South East Asia of Great Britain communities too, which has seen a 300% increase since the UK was placed under its first lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak across the country.
These negative characterizations of minority groups in the UK perpetuate view that minority groups embody the most extreme ‘other’ characteristic traits, or that they pose a risk to national security because of the dangers associated with inherent radicalization or, in the case of Islamophobia, that Muslim voices of resistance are not trustworthy.
Whether it is Islamophobia, xenophobia, hate crimes against different communities or the normalization of Islamophobia by politicians in the UK, it all raises multiple questions, whether it is simply about ‘a manifestation of deeply rooted anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment in British politics. . If so, it is high time for Britain to change its political culture and discourse and move towards the inclusive society it was, at least until a few years ago.
The prejudices, prejudices and political under-representation of ethnic minorities have often been used as a political tool in elections, but the progress of a government or a political leader is determined not only on the basis of the apologies issued for “past comments on Islam”, but on the overall actions taken to ensure equality, inclusiveness and the mechanisms put in place to protect against such attacks or statements in the future, which should be considered no only as offensive, but also as a misdemeanor. Britain must resolve its problem of anti-Muslim sentiment and do so without damaging the community and its people. As Rabina puts it, “the double standard is a structural inequality that perpetuates bigotry, racism and Islamophobia.”
The author is a New Delhi-based journalist and filmmaker. She hosts a weekly online show called The Sania Farooqui Show where Muslim women around the world are invited to share their views.
© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service