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Friday Dec 13 2019

Ethnic minorities, British Muslims fearful for future

Protesters outside French embassy in London, Britain, August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall/Files

LONDON: A group of British Muslims have expressed fears for their own and ethnic minorities' future in the United Kingdom under Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s Conservative Party, following its crushing win in the 2019 general election.

After the election results were finalised, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) called on the PM to reassure British Muslims of their place in our country.

Former cabinet minister and Tory Party’s chairperson, Sayeeda Warsi, said her party "must start healing its relationship with British Muslims” in reference to widespread racism and Islamophobia in Tory party as well as the anti-immigration and anti-Muslim views entrenched within the party.

Grime rapper Stormzy — a vocal supporter of the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — said the future looked disturbing for the UK's minorities after the 2019 general election's results gave a clear majority to Johnson.

MCB Secretary-General Harun Khan said: "Mr Johnson commands a majority, but there is a palpable sense of fear amongst Muslim communities around the country. 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. Mr Johnson has been entrusted with huge power, and we pray it is exercised responsibly for all Britons.” he added.

Khan explained the community understood that Johnson insisted on being a one-nation Tory. "We earnestly hope that is the case and urge him to lead from the centre and engage with all communities.”

In a tweet, Sayeeda Warsi added: "Endorsements from #TommyRobinson & #KatieHopkins & colleagues retweeting both is deeply disturbing. 

"Independent Inquiry into #Islamophobia is a must first step. The battle to root out racism must now intensify," she added.

The 26-year-old Stormzy, who, earlier, had urged his followers to vote Labour, took to Twitter to retweet a message penned by British journalist Mehdi Hasan shortly after the exit poll result was revealed.

The message he shared with his 1.3 million followers — that made reference to the Conservative PM Boris Johnson — read: "Dark day for minorities in the UK. 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.

The artist posted a tweet written by another social media user that said: "Whatever happens tonight, @jeremycorbyn has been a fantastic Labour leader.

"He has provided genuine hope for the youth of this country and enabled us to imagine better conditions for ourselves. He boldly spoke out against injustice and inequality. I will always respect him."

He has also previously described Johnson as a "sinister man with a long record of lying and policies that have absolutely no regard for the people that our government should be committed to helping".

Meanwhile, the Labour Against Antisemitism group said the election result — which saw the Conservatives record their best figures since 1987 and Labour their worst since 1935 — was a “damning verdict” on Corbyn‘s leadership of what they called an “institutionally racist” party.

The group added in a statement: “The overwhelming reaction of our members to this election result is one of relief. Underlying that emotion, however, runs anger that the British Jewish community has been brought close to serious threat by the complete failure of the Labour movement to deal with the poison of antisemitism.”

During the election campaign, Johnson had come under fire for his past description of Muslim women wearing niqabs as “letterboxes” and was accused of personally contributing to rampant racism in Britain. The now-PM countered, saying he was "mounting a strong liberal defence of the right of women in this country to wear what they choose".

Writer and political commentator Owen Jones — who had campaigned for Labour — said: "It's a catastrophic result for the country and for everything that the Labour party exists to fight for. The people it was founded to champion, to represent.

"And I'm so sorry to people watching this who are full of dismay, horrow and who are scared," Jones added.