Rabina KhanNEW-DELHI, India, June 14 (IPS) – When Rabina Khan ran as an independent candidate in the Tower Hamlets Mayoral elections in London in 2015, she was asked by a male voter what color of hair she was under her veil. answered Rabina and said it was pink. This little interaction inspired Rabina to write her book My Hair is Pink Under This Veil.
The book is about a Muslim woman who lives in the UK and how she aligns her beliefs with British culture to build a successful political career against a backdrop of guilt, prejudice, ignorance and misogyny. Rabina Khan, through her own personal experience of wearing a hijab, also highlights the outdated views about Muslim women, questions the ideas of what a Muslim woman can or cannot do, and also questions the stereotypes.
“The reason I reacted in this way was to question the notion that Muslim women with hijab are not interested in hairstyles, bright colors or fashion,” Rabina Khan said in an interview with me.
“There has always been this narrative about Muslim women that we are oppressed, have no life, we don’t expect to become professionals or become politicians in different sectors. Women like us, women of color, women of faith, have a hard time in mainstream society because we see stereotypes, racism and prejudice, ”says Rabina.
In recent years, Islamophobia in the UK has grown at a very worrying rate. In 2011, Lady Warsi claimed that Islamophobia was acceptable in the UK and “passed the dinner table test”.
In 2015, the Muslim Council of Britain warned of increasing Islamophobia in the UK after some videos were posted online showing anti-Muslim abuse on public transport.
After the Brexit vote in 2018, UN experts warned of a “sharp rise” in hate crimes across the UK. The UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance, E. Tendayi Achiume, said: “It was worrying that the anti-migrants” Their xenophobic rhetoric, which had developed around the Brexit campaign, had spread throughout society and even went so far that a hateful and stigmatizing discourse “normalized” – also with the participation of some high-ranking officials “.
In 2019, a week after the Christchurch Mosque attacks in New Zealand, the number of reported hate crimes against Muslims in the UK rose 5.93%. Muslims in Oxford, Southampton and Colindale, north London, reported that “gestures of guns or gun sounds were directed at them”.
Last year, in 2020, a dossier containing more than 300 allegations of Islamophobia against Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other members of the Conservative Party was submitted to the Gender Equality and Human Rights Commission for a formal investigation.
Another report by The Labor Muslim Network, which in one of its reports is the largest group of Muslim members and supporters of Labor, says that more than one in four Muslim members and supporters of Labor – 29 percent – is Islamophobia in the ranks of Labor Party, “out of ignorance and systemic racism that may not be open, but exists.”
Just a few weeks ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a qualified apology for the insult caused by his earlier statements on Islam, including a 2018 newspaper column in which he described women in burqas as “walking around like mailboxes” and compared their looks to bank robbers . A 2019 report found that Islamophobic incidents rose 375 percent in the week following Boris Johnson’s article, with 42 percent of reported racist attacks on the streets of Britain being directly related to his language.
“His (Boris Johnson) comments had a profound effect and a deleterious effect on Muslim women, and particularly on Muslim women in the veil,” says Rabina.
“It is really important for politicians to be careful about how they portray Muslim women and believers, be they Hindus, Sikhs, Christians or Jews, they have to be careful because by demonizing people, you push people back and not with you.
“There are 3.3 million Muslims in the UK today who make billions of contributions to the UK economy, we are a huge population and we are a large electoral sector that should be valued and respected. While I applaud Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s apology, I also pay tribute to the Conservative Party as the ruling party that introduced Sharia funding for Muslim communities. So if you have done it, I am sure that you will be able to tackle Islamophobic behavior, ”says Rabina.
For British Muslims and people of color, hate crimes against minorities in the country have become the new normal. Many have chosen to leave the UK because it has become “too dangerous to stay”. Hate crimes have now also spread to the UK’s East and Southeast Asian communities, which have increased by 300 percent across the country since the UK was first locked down due to the surge in coronavirus.
This negative characterization of minority groups in the UK maintains the view that minority groups embody the most extreme “other” characteristics, or that they pose a risk to national security because of dangers related to inherent radicalization or, in the case of Islamophobia, Muslim resistance voices are not trustworthy.
Whether it’s Islamophobia, xenophobia, hate crime against various communities, or the normalization of Islamophobia by UK politicians – all of these raise many questions as to whether they are simply a manifestation of a deeply ingrained immigration and refugee hostility in British politics. If so, then it is high time Britain changed its political culture and discourse and moved towards an inclusive society, which it was at least until a few years ago.
Prejudice, prejudice and political underrepresentation of ethnic minorities have often been used as a political tool in elections, but the progress of a government or political leader is determined not only on the basis of excuses for “past comments on Islam”, but also on the basis of overarching ones Actions are taken to ensure equality, inclusivity and mechanisms to protect against such attack or utterance in the future that should be considered not only offensive but also a criminal offense. Britain must resolve its anti-Muslim sentiment problem and do so without harming the community and its people. Rabina says: “Double standards are a structural inequality that perpetuates bigotry, racism and Islamophobia.”
The author is a journalist and filmmaker from New Delhi. She hosts a weekly online show called The Sania Farooqui Show, which invites Muslim women from around the world to share their views.
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