According to Census 2011, the British Muslim population is around 4.8%, which is about two million, yet British Muslims are very under-represented in British politics and media.
Putting the percentage of British Muslim into consideration, there should be 32 Muslim MPs out of the 650, but currently there are only 16 Muslim MPs. However, the good news that half of these Muslim MPs are women, and this includes Naz Shah, Rosena Allin-Khan, Tulip Siddiq and Nusrat Ghani.
The election of Sadiq Khan as the Mayor of London shows the progression of British politics, although he received countless social media Islamophobic abuse for running. Nevertheless, British Muslim never hither to been appointed into the cabinet despite the fact they are one of the biggest minorities in the UK. Therefore, some may see the appointment of Sajid Javid as Home Secretary as the light at the end of the tunnel, but most British Muslims and others see his appointment as mere exercise of tokenism to cover up the racist Windrush scandal.
The previous Home Secretary Amber Rudd was responsible for the Windrush scandal as she and Theresa May set up hostile policies designed to make staying in the UK difficult, in the hope that people or whom she calls “illegal immigrants” may self-deport. The children of the African-Caribbean Windrush generation who arrived before 1973 were threatened with deportation if they could not prove their right to remain in the UK. Undoubtedly, that these hostile policies targeted black and people of colour minorities such as the Windrush community who came legally to the UK after WWII, reflecting the systemic institutional and structural racism.
Some might have hoped that the appointment of Sajid Javid, would change the racist and hostile policies of the Conservative Party but Mr Javid’s record suggests that he in fact has the potential to further imbed racial inequalities through his unequivocal support of the current status-quo.
Mr Javid has voted in favour of the government having mass surveillance powers to monitor communications and activities and voted in favour of the mass retention of information on people’s internet usage, which tremendously undermine our civil liberties. When it comes to immigration policies, his record is much worse. Mr Javid voted in favour of stricter policies against asylum seekers and more deportation powers. He even voted against banning the detention of pregnant women in immigration centres. It does not stop here, back in 2013, Mr Javid voted to remove the Commission for Equality and Human Rights’ duty to support the development of societies where people’s ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice or discrimination.
One might ask whether Mr Javid’s Muslim heritage would better enable him to address the inequalities and Islamophobia faced by British Muslims after his appointment. Sadly, this has not historically, nor is it likely to be the case. Furthermore, considering the concerns that many Muslims have regarding the treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, one may find it surprising that before Mr Javid had even addressed is own Muslim community on his appointment to Home Secretary, he would wholeheartedly confirm his continued support to blocking the boycott, diversity and sanctions movement. One cannot help but wonder whether his decision to make such a statement in front of a Jewish audience prior addressing the Muslim communities that he never addressed before was a strategic decision in his efforts to reassure the Conservatives that he will unequivocally toe the party line when it comes to Israel and in order to physically assert how far his sympathies, priorities and loyalties lie with Muslim communities.
Moreover, Mr Javid unlike large swathes of the Muslim and wider community, welcomed the appointment of Sara Khan as the head of the commission on counter extremism.
Sarah Khan, knowingly failed to support the Muslim community’s concerns surrounding the highly discriminatory Prevent programme and has in fact been detrimental to the Muslim welfare by actively promoting it.
With all the above in mind, one may raise the question whether Javid’s identity is used as a veneer to conceal the ugly and racist policies of Amber Rudd who sat at the Political Council of the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) for few years before she dissociated herself from it.
HJS is a leading exponent of neoconservatism in the UK, alt-right and Zionist think-tank. HJS was founded by Douglas Murray, who said once “To have less terrorism, the UK needs less Islam”, suggesting abhorrently that Islam as a religion is the driving motive of terrorists! In addition, HJS has been aggressively attacking active British Muslims and organisations such as Muslim Engagement & Development (MEND) and Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), in an attempt to silence voices of dissents.
It seems that if Mr Javid is not a player, he is indeed a victim of a system based on the exploitation of a given race by another, something that colonial powers are known for and flourished on. Frantz Fanon, a post-colonial theorist explained this phenomenon in his book (Black skin, white masks) when he argued that the subjects of oppressive colonial systems are forced to renounce their own culture and identity in order to be acceptable to the dominant force; in other words, to be taken seriously and to be considered a legitimate voice, you have to hide aspects of your cultural and religious identity so that you do not upset the socio-political status-quo.
I truly believe, it is our collective responsibility whether, we are white, black, of faith or non to challenge any discriminatory policies and laws, expose their failures, halt any exploitation of race and turn our back on the inhuman divisive voices to enable authentic communications between all diverse groups for the shared common good.
Sahar Al-Faifi is a molecular geneticist by training and community activist by passion. Sahar’s activism focuses on seeking to unlock the power of civil society, widen the Muslim participation and engagement and build a broad-base alliance for different campaigns that include welcoming refugees, living wage, anti-racism and anti-Islamophobia. She is also a blogger at Huffington Post, written for the independent and participated at many TV shows and debates against UKIP.