'Palpable fear' spreads among British Muslims following Johnson victory​

'Palpable fear' spreads among British Muslims following Johnson victory​
'We worry that Islamophobia is "oven-ready" for government': British Muslims from across the political spectrum have responded to Boris Johnson's resounding election victory with fear and dismay.
4 min read
13 December, 2019
British Muslims pray in London during Ramadan [Getty]
Member of UK's Muslim community from across the political spectrum have voiced dread over the resounding election victory of Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party, which have been accused of both personal and systemic issues around anti-Muslim discrimination and hate.

The Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), Harun Khan, responded to the election result by calling for the right-wing Prime Minister to lead with unity and reassure Muslims of their place in society.

"Mr Johnson commands a majority, but there is a palpable sense of fear amongst Muslim communities around the country," Khan said in a statement released on Friday.

"We entered the election campaign period with long standing concerns about bigotry in our politics and our governing party. Now we worry that Islamophobia is 'oven-ready' for government," he added.

9 times the UK's Conservative Party were shockingly Islamophobic and got away with it

"Mr Johnson has been entrusted with huge power, and we pray it is exercised responsibly for all Britons," he said, adding that the Council hopes Johnson stays true to his pledge he is a "One Nation" Conservative.

Meanwhile British Muslim commentators also responded to the result with fear and dismay.

Journalist Mehdi Hassan tweeted that it was a "dark day" for minorities in Britain, "especially for British Muslims who watched as a man who said 'Islam was the problem,' mocked veiled Muslim women, & also turned a blind eye to massive anti-Muslim hatred in his party, was just given a landslide majority by their fellow Britons."

Miqdad Versi, MCB's media spokesperson said: "If Islamophobia was taken seriously in this country, we wouldn't be where we are."

"The palpable fear from Muslim communities should not be airbrushed from the reporting of today," he added.

British academic H. A. Hellyer tweeted as the initial results came in on Thursday: "The exit poll may be a bit off. But what isn't off is this: tolerating anti-Muslim sentiment is not a losing strategy in our politics in 2019 Britain."

"That should be of great concern, to all of us, in our country. And patently, right now, it isn't," he added.

Sayeeda Warsi, former co-chair of the Conservative Party and cabinet member, also spoke out to say her party "must start healing its relationship with British Muslims".

She called Johnson's endorsement from far-right figures Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins, and her Conservative Party colleagues retweeting the statements "deeply disturbing".

"The battle to root out racism must now intensify," she tweeted, calling for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia.

Many figures from the UK's minorities spoke out in solidarity with each other following the result that came as a shock to many.

British journalist and academic Sunny Hundal said minorities had to unite after the election.

"This has been the worst general election for the UK's religious minorities that I can recall," he tweeted.

"People have been set against each other like never before. The impact of this will be felt for years, if not decades, unless we openly challenge it," he added.

Comedian Nish Kumar, who took part in election coverage on Thursday alongside Boris Johnson's father, tweeted a picture of himself with his head in his hands.

"This is a photo of me reacting to the Prime Minister's father saying women who wear burqas shouldn't be fighter pilots," he explained. 

On Thursday, British Muslim group MEND lodged a formal request with the UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to investigate anti-Muslim hate in the Conservative Party.

In its 2018 report, Islamophobia watchdog Tell MAMA UK identified a siginificant spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the country in August after Johnson wrote a newspaper column referring to veiled Muslim women as "letterboxes" and "bank-robbers". 

In the week following his article, anti-Muslim incidents increased by 375 percent.

The Muslim Council of Britain accused the BBC on Tuesday of neglecting to report on the full extent of Islamophobia in the party during the pre-election coverage, claiming it was tantamount to "incitement" against Muslims in the UK.

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