May’s anti-Islamaphobia claims conflict with her political history

Following the attack on Muslims near the Finsbury Park Mosque, Prime Minister called for an end to anti-Muslim right-wing extremism.

Mehdi Hasan, a prominent Muslim British journalist, argues that May’s claim is contradictory with her own political history, which is steeped in support for Islamaphobic policy and tolerance of Islamaphobia in her Conservative party.

As Home Secretary, she largely ignored “hundreds” of incidents of anti-Muslim violent incidents while focusing intensely on the “Islamist” threat. She ignored a warning from an official in her department that this focus could foster right-wing violence. The official wrote, “I wouldn’t want to get to the point where something happens and we look back and think actually, we should have addressed that as well.”

In 2014, she was an active voice in claiming that Birmingham schools were being taken over by Muslims “extremists” despite limited evidence of radicalisation.

As home secretary, she never formerly met with the Cross-Government Anti-Mulsim Hatred Working group. The inattention to this important issue from the Conservative government resulted in leading academics resigning from the group.

Former Conservative minister Sayeeda Warsi has been disappointed in the limited support the Conservative party has given her in fighting Islamaphobia. Hasan believes she is being polite and measured in her condemnation, as she has been almost entirely ignored.

As Prime Minister, she hired a political strategist who told the conservatives to ignore “[explitive] Muslims” and supported the allegedly Islamaphobic campaigns, such as that of Zac Goldsmith.

She is also accused of purposefully limiting the presence of both Muslims and Muslim-related issues in the party. As such, the author is sceptical that she will fight Islamaphobia effectively.

 

Brexit board member resigns over Islamophobic tweets

A board member of the Leave campaign resigned Monday over a series of anti-

Muslim tweets, just two days before a referendum decides whether the U.K.

should stay in the EU, according to British media reports.

The Guardian noted that Arabella Arkwright, who is also a businesswoman,

reposted on her Twitter feed an image of a white woman surrounded by black-

colored burqas along with the caption: “Britain 2050: Why didn’t you stop them

Granddad?”

She also reposted another message saying: “Yazidi women fleeing Isis [Daesh]”

with a “Stop Islam” logo, according to the paper.

Arkwright reportedly deleted her Twitter account after she got negative

reactions to her posts.

Vote Leave campaign in a statement to the paper said that Arabella’s tweets did

not reflect the views of the group.

“As soon as we were made aware of these tweets we asked Arabella to hand in

her resignation, which she has done with immediate effect. These tweets do not

reflect the views of the Vote Leave campaign,” it said.

Also, Arkwright defended her position in a statement to the paper.

“I would like to make it absolutely clear that my RTs [re-tweets] and forwarding

do not mean that I endorse in any way the content of them,” she said.

Leave campaigners have repeatedly used xenophobic and Islamophobic content

to instill fear among voters that such a move would supposedly invite millions of

migrants into the bloc, especially to the U.K.

On Monday, Sayeeda Warsi, a senior Muslim politician in Britain’s governing

Conservative Party, also abandoned her support for Brexit.

The former Foreign Office minister had accused the Leave campaign of telling

“complete lies” about Turkey’s EU membership and announced she now

supported a vote for Britain to remain in the European Union.

First Interview with Lady Warsi on Palestine and why she left her position

"“There is a lack of political will and our moral compass is missing,” says Lady Warsi. (Photo: Paul Cooper/Rex Features)
“There is a lack of political will and our moral compass is missing,” says Lady Warsi. (Photo: Paul Cooper/Rex Features)

The tipping point for Sayeeda Warsi came in the aftermath of one of the most notorious incidents of this year’s Gazan war: the killing of four Palestinian children by Israeli shells as they played football on the beach. Warsi hoped that David Cameron would condemn the attack as beyond the pale. Instead, she heard only the dry language of diplomacy. She insists her resignation was not a knee-jerk response and makes clear that she is far from an isolated voice within her party.

 

On domestic issues such as extremism and the government’s approach to counter-radicalisation, Warsi refuses to be drawn. “My argument is that extremists are more of a threat to British Muslims than the community as whole; not only do those people cause us harm like everybody else – they’re indiscriminate – but also the backlash. It’s a double whammy. British Muslims have more incentive to rid society of extremists.”

 

For her, the issue is how will Islam evolve and overcome an atmosphere of mistrust and misunderstanding towards it. “What will British Islam look like for my kids, grandkids? Chinese Islam is very different to Saudi Islam; the challenge for our times is how we find this place.”

Muslim Minister Quits British Government to Protest Gaza Policies

August 5, 2014

The fighting in Gaza claimed an unexpected casualty among the British political elite on Tuesday when Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim to serve in the British cabinet, resigned, saying the government’s “approach and language” in the crisis had been “morally indefensible.”

The broadside took aim at Prime Minister David Cameron’s refusal to join a chorus of British critics who have labeled Israel’s bombardment of Gaza disproportionate and an outrage. Her decision widened fissures within the coalition government and between the government and leading British Muslims, reflecting the emotional impact of the Gaza conflict, which has been relayed in graphic images on television and social media.

The resignation “reflects the unease and anxiety in Parliament and in the country about the U.K. government’s present position” on the conflict, said Sir Menzies Campbell, a former leader of the Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in the governing coalition.

Not only that, there were signs of division within Mr. Cameron’s Conservative Party. Nicholas Soames, a Conservative lawmaker and former minister, said on Twitter: “The government needs to note and learn from the resignation of Sayeeda Warsi she was right to leave over a matter of such great importance.”

But George Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer who is close to Mr. Cameron, called her action “disappointing and frankly unnecessary.”

Shuja Shafi, the head of the Muslim Council of Britain, the biggest Muslim umbrella grouping, said Ms. Warsi had taken a “principled stand” and had “spoken on behalf of humanity.”

Ms. Warsi, 43, a lawyer and the daughter of an immigrant textile worker from Pakistan, had been a member of Mr. Cameron’s cabinet since 2010 and had been seen as a political bridge to the country’s Muslim minority.

In her resignation letter, Ms. Warsi said, “My view has been that our policy in relation to the Middle East peace process generally but more recently our approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long-term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically.”

She wrote: “I must be able to live with myself for the decisions I took or the decisions I supported. By staying in government at this time I do not feel that I can be sure of that.”

She announced her decision on the same day as a cease-fire came into force in Gaza.

Mr. Cameron, who has been accused by the opposition Labour Party of being too cautious on the Gaza crisis, was on vacation when news of the resignation broke. In a letter to Ms. Warsi released by his office, he said he regretted her departure and realized “that this must not have been an easy decision for you to make.”

“I understand your strength of feeling on the current crisis in the Middle East — the situation in Gaza is intolerable. Our policy has always been consistently clear: We support a negotiated two-state solution as the only way to resolve this conflict once and for all and to allow Israelis and Palestinians to live safely in peace,” Mr. Cameron said.

“Of course, we believe that Israel has the right to defend itself,” the letter said. “But we have consistently made clear our grave concerns about the heavy toll of civilian casualties and have called on Israel to exercise restraint, and to find ways to bring this fighting to an end.”

On Monday, in commenting on the crisis in Gaza, Mr. Cameron pointedly declined to echo the assessment of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations, who called an attack on a United Nations school in Gaza a “moral outrage and a criminal act.”

Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour opposition, called on Mr. Cameron to change his approach. “He needs to come out much more clearly and say that Israel’s actions are just wrong and can’t be defended and can’t be justified,” he said. Ms. Warsi, by contrast, acted with “principle and integrity,” Mr. Miliband said.

Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, said he had “never been ambiguous” in his condemnation of the bombing of United Nations schools in Gaza as “a complete outrage.”

“Clearly the prime minister and I have taken different views on this,” he said, referring to Israel’s actions in Gaza. “We always have done.”

Some analysts said that the resignation also reflected Ms. Warsi’s unhappiness with a major reorganization of the government ordered by Mr. Cameron last month, in which she was not restored to a higher office.

The resignation stirred passions as people in Britain — political leaders, members of the royalty and citizens — began what are expected to be lengthy commemorations of the centenary of World War I, which the country entered on Aug. 4, 1914. Ceremonies to commeorate the occasion on Monday were characterized by broad consensus among the country’s political adversaries.

Ms. Warsi’s resignation recalled the days in 2003 when two senior figures stepped down to protest Britain’s participation in the United States-led invasion of Iraq.

UK minister issues warning against rise of Islamophia

24 January 2013

 

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a senior member of the Conservative Party and a

Minister of State for Faith and Communities, has said that more Muslims are victims of hate crimes now than at any other time in Britain’s history, showing a rise in Isalmophobia which needs to be dealt with effectively.

 

Citing figures from a recent You Gov survey, she presented her evidence. According to the poll results just 23% of people said that Islam was not a threat to Western civilization. Further, only 24% of the respondents thought Muslims were compatible with the British way of life – with nearly half of people disagreeing that Muslims were compatible. Finally, nearly half of people polled thought there would be a clash of civilizations between and Muslims and other Britons.

She further mentioned new figures from the Association of Chief Police Officers showing that between 50 to 60 per cent of all religious hate crimes reported to police in Britain are now perpetrated against Muslims.

“My fear is that seeing one community as the ‘other’ is a slippery slope that will enable extremists to advance their twisted interests unchecked, I don’t have to remind anyone what happens when an unfounded suspicion of one people can escalate into unspeakable horror.”

Two years ago Baroness Warsi was criticized for saying that that Islamophobia in Britain “had passed the dinner table test” but the latest police figures show that she was right in raising the issue.

Lady Warsi: Pakistan’s treatment of women fails Islam

23.06.2011
Muslim Tory minister Sayeeda Warsi criticized Pakistan for denying women rights that were granted in the Qur’an 1,400 years ago. Therefore, according to Warsi, “Pakistan is failing to live up to one of the tenets of Islam which guarantees rights to all women” (Guardian). While preparing to become the first British minister to address the Organisation for the Islamic Conference, Warsi made these comments in an interview with the Guardian. Warsi, who has Pakistani origins herself, had already raised the issue of women’s rights last year. During the interview, Warsi said her heritage allowed her to openly raise these concerns; what is more, she considers herself to be able to deliver a “tough message to Pakistan because she is unencumbered by “colonial baggage””. In addition to the lack of rights for women, Warsi had also voiced concerns about the treatment of minorities in Pakistan.

Nick Clegg Distances Himself From David Cameron on Violent Extremism

3 March 2011

Nick Clegg has set out a rival government vision for combating violent extremism, striking a different tone from David Cameron’s month-old doctrine to disengage from extremists.

In a speech in Luton, Clegg disagreed with Cameron’s disavowal of multiculturalism, was hesitant about moves to ban extremist groups and said he did not share the prime minister’s wish to rule out engaging with non-violent extremists. He pointed to his decision to allow one of his ministers to attend the Global Peace and Unity conference – which occasionally hosts controversial Islamic scholars – while Tory chairwoman Sayeeda Warsi was forced to pull out.

In contrast to the timing of Cameron’s speech in Munich – the same day as an English Defence League rally in Luton – the deputy prime minister delivered his speech in Luton on Thursday, where he deployed a more emollient tone.

Baroness Warsi becomes first Muslim woman in British Cabinet

Britain’s first female Muslim Cabinet minister said on Thursday it was “humbling” to join the government, after taking part in new Prime Minister David Cameron’s first full ministerial meeting. Sayeeda Warsi is the Conservative Party’s chairwoman and minister without portfolio in Cameron’s new coalition government.

“For anybody to serve in government is a privilege,” said the 39-year-old of Pakistani origin, after Cameron held his first Cabinet meeting in 10 Downing Street. “But to be born the daughter of an immigrant mill-worker in a mill town in Yorkshire, to have the privilege of serving in Cabinet at such an important time in Britain’s history I think is terribly humbling,” she told the BBC.

Baroness Warsi is one of the extremely few exceptions of the predominantly male and white Cabinet.