UK Arabs say 'Gaza will play vital role' in upcoming general election

UK Arabs say 'Gaza will play vital role' in upcoming general election
A UK 'Arab lobby' is being established to support British Arabs running during the upcoming general election.
3 min read
12 March, 2024
A conference was held on Friday 8 March to discuss the role of the UK's Arab communities in the upcoming general elections [Al-Araby Al-Jadeed]

lobby group has been established by members of the Arab community in the UK, aimed at tackling key political challenges and support British-Arab candidates in the coming parliamentary elections.

This decision was the result of a conference held on Friday by the Arab Thinking Forum and Arab-London website.

Three prominent British Arab candidates who plan to run in the upcoming general election participated in the conference.

These include Palestinian-British professor and Chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Professor Kamel Hawwash, who will run in Birmingham, activist and ex-Labour councillor Mona Adam, who will be standing in Kensington and Bayswater in London, and activist Helmi Alharahsheh, who plans to stand in Ealing North in London.

The initiative is the first of its kind and comes in the wake of growing anger over the stance taken by the two major parties in the UK - Labour and the Conservatives - over the Gaza war, where Israel's offensive has killed over 31,100 Palestinians.

All the candidates agreed the war on Gaza would play a vital role in the next election, with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets in London calling for a ceasefire and demanding an end to UK support for Israel's offensive on the enclave.

Kamel Hawwash told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister edition, that after Labour party leader Keir Starmer supported Israel's "right" to cut off water and electricity from the people of Gaza, he submitted his resignation from the party.

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He is open to standing with a new party, the establishment of which he is looking into, or as an independent.

"It is important that every independent candidate looks at the issue which prompted them to enter the elections, and it is also necessary to focus on the local policies the constituency's residents are concerned with," he said.  

Mona Adam, who is of Sudanese origin, told the conference that what was happening in Gaza made her think that the entire world was in a "political coma" and the situation there "is pushing us to wake up".

Starmer's controversial comments on cutting electricity, water and food to Gaza also reawakened memories of the war in Darfur inside her.

Starmer's position on Gaza had pushed her to leave Labour on 6 December due to disappointment with the party over its silence on the situation in Sudan and support for Conservative Party's anti-immigration positions.

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Helmi Alharahsheh, who is of Jordanian origin, intends to stand as an independent and campaign on local issues, including higher education as a right not a privilege, reviving youth centres, and curbing council tax.

Friday's conference followed the launch of the "Arab Voices in the Elections" campaign at a separate conference on 24 February organised by the Al-Arab in UK platform, which seeks to amplify the participation of British Arabs in British politics.

Muhammad Amin who is president of the Arab Thinking Forum, said that the votes of the Arab community could play a significant role in the coming elections, saying their was a general longing for change and the results of the coming elections would likely reflect this.

According to the 2021 census, there are nearly 4 million Muslims in England and Wales, and around 332,000 Arabs, most of whom live in the Greater London area.

This article is based on an article which appeared in our Arabic edition by Katia Youssef on 9 March 2024. To read the original article click here.