Socialist Worker

Muslims are a key part of the future of Britain

Dr Saeeda Shah is a professor at Leicester University. She is currently researching issues of Muslim identity in British schools. She talked to Socialist Worker about the increasing racism against Muslims.

Issue No. 2025

More Muslims have become involved in student unions - and  joined the student protest last Sunday (Pic:  Guy Smallman)

More Muslims have become involved in student unions - and joined the student protest last Sunday (Pic: Guy Smallman)


‘Politicians have made comments about Muslims in the past few weeks that they should not have made.

To say these sorts of divisive things about a section of British society is irresponsible.

Muslims are part of the community. They are part of modern Britain.

The issue of wearing the veil or the niqab has many dimensions. There is of course a religious dimension. But there are also cultural and regional dimensions. And a political dimension.

In Mohammed’s time, how you dressed as a Muslim was a political statement. It was to identify that you were a Muslim.

Portrayed

In Britain today I do think that it is an issue of identity. It has emerged as a political reaction to the way Muslims are treated.

I am disappointed at the way that Muslims are portrayed by politicians and the media - even among academics.

Can politicians and the media really think that if you push people to the wall you can conquer them?

Surely there are enough examples in history that show that you cannot win by oppressing or suppressing people?

People in power have a responsibility for what they say and do. They have a responsibility to bring on board people who are disempowered.

I have worked in education for 30 years - it is not ethnicity or religion that determines how much people achieve. It is what opportunities they have in life.

But the media always talk about black or Muslim children achieving less. Class is never talked about.

When you tell people that they achieve less because of these things you are targeting their dignity, their self respect.

If you’re Asian and have a beard you are stopped by the police, you are suspected.

And now they have said they want police to check up on people in Muslim societies in universities - these are not sane attitudes.

Future

How do we want to see the future of Britain? Full of tension, conflict and extremes? We need understanding.

If politicians and the media keep on saying that Muslims are bad people, that they are terrorists, people will believe it.

If all you hear about Muslims is that they are bad then you will feel threatened. But it is the majority of people - black, white and Asian - who suffer.’

People’s Assembly
Islamophobia and the War on Terror

  • How are the attacks on Muslims linked to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
  • How can the anti-war movement counter those attacks in its continuing campaign to end the Bush-Blair wars?

Open to delegates and observers £6/£4
Saturday 18 November 10am to 5.30pm
Camden Centre, Judd Street, London WC1H
Phone 020 7278 6694 | E-mail office@stopwar.org.uk


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