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Muslims in Britain speak out—‘We will not be second class citizens’

After a wave of attacks that aim to silence Muslims and stop them speaking out over Palestine, Dáire Cumiskey spoke to activists that insist they won’t be intimidated 
Issue 2895
Palestine Muslims imperialism

At a Medics for Palestine demonstration (Picture: Guy Smallman)

The state is ramping up its attacks on Muslims and combining ­rotten Islamophobia with attempts to crush the fight for Palestine and against imperialism. 

But Muslims in Britain have told Socialist Worker that they won’t be intimidated and will continue to fight against Zionism as well as against Islamophobia and racism on the streets. 

Sam Patel is the chair of the Redbridge Palestine Solidarity Campaign. She raged at politicians who get away with spouting Islamaphobic hate. 

“Muslims are not willing to be treated as second class citizens any more,” she explained to Socialist Worker. 

“People at my mosque are really angry with the double standard in terms of addressing other forms of racism.” 

Mohammed Kozbar from Finsbury Park Mosque agreed. He explained that this latest round of attacks will only add to a growing feeling that the state treats Muslims differently than other groups. 

“There have been recent attacks on our mosque both physically and it has increased online as well. We’ve reported all cases to the police but haven’t received any response,” he said. 

“It’s been reported that there’s been an increase of over 300 percent in Islamophobic attacks since October and it is directly linked to the divisive narrative spouted by the Tories and the Labour Party,” he argued. 

“It’s clear that the majority of British politicians do not care about the Muslim community in Britain as they are allowed to get away with making such inflammatory and Islamophobic statements with no consequences. 

In a recent poll of Conservative Party members, 58 percent think Islam is a threat to the “British way of life”. It showed that Islamophobia is not just widespread amongst MPs but across the party as a whole. 

“The poll was very worrying,” Mohammed said. “It shows they’ve done nothing to combat the Islamophobia across their party.” 

Anger at increasing Islamophobia will undoubtedly add to the already ­existing rage at those in both the Tory and Labour Party who back Zionism and betray the Palestinian people. 

Dilowar Khan, who lives in east London, added that it’s telling how politicians have responded to an issue that tens of thousands of Muslims have rallied behind. 

“Residents in east London are concerned by the double standard of inaction being politicians’ response to the situation in Palestine,” he explained. 

“They’ll compare it to the swift response our leaders had when it came to Ukraine.” 

This feeling amongst Muslims of being scapegoated, targeted by racists and treated differently is not new. 

The British state has tried to scapegoat Muslims as the “enemy within” to push division between working class people for some time. But as Dilowar explained, the only way to fight the scapegoating and the attacks on Palestine resistance is to take more action. 

“We need to continue with the protests, lobbying MPs and arm ourselves with the arguments about Palestine,” he explained. 

And other activists explained that after months of protest over Palestine, many Muslims now have more confidence to fight. 

“Despite the intimidation from the police on protests, people are now quite confident to fend off labels attached to the movement by the right,” Muhammed Mussa from charity Cage told Socialist Worker. 

“This has come from protesting every week. It’s been part of what Cage has done over the past few months to ensure people know their rights and feel confident to raise their voices for Palestine.” 

Safiyah, a student at Queen Mary University, agreed and added that she also believes that Palestine activists, Muslims included, now have more confidence to get out onto the streets. 

“The police presence has tried to intimidate especially younger protestors that they’ll be in some sort of trouble for supporting Palestine. 

“But I think many of us have actually grown in confidence and are becoming less scared of repression.” 

A movement that is growing in confidence is desperately needed, not just in the fight for Palestine but to combat rising Islamophobia. 

And activists are clear that every step must be taken to push out those who support the Israeli terror state. 

Sam is backing independent Palestinian candidate Leanne Mohammed’s campaign to unset right wing Labour MP Wes Streeting from his seat in Ilford North. 

“If Leanne Mohammed gets elected, that will mean a lot. She’ll have taken the seat from one of Starmer’s shadow cabinet. She will be standing up in parliament representing ordinary people and taking the movement for Palestine into the House of Commons.” 

A win for Leanne would be a blow for Keir Starmer and the Labour right, but as activists explained, it won’t be enough to fight for Palestine only within parliament. 

“I think we need more direct action because we can’t wait for politicians to take a lead,” Safiyah added. “They’re too slow to act.” 

Mohammed Kozbar added, “People should protest outside embassies to call out the ongoing genocide and the complicit rulers in the region. 

“Many regimes that are silently supporting Israel must be called out for their part in breaching human rights and assisting Israel’s genocide of Palestinians. 

 “These governments must be pressured to play a role to help end the war by placing sanctions on Israel.” 

“I think we need to utilise and implement Boycott Divestment and Sanctions—these tactics played an important role in helping isolate the apartheid regime in South Africa,” Mohammed argued. 

“The trade unions have been too slow to act,” he added. 

“The leaders of the unions need to reflect their member’s views and mobilise them for the national demonstrations. They must be pressured to call for workplace actions and solidarity walkouts.” 

No one should falter in the face of rising Islamophobia. 

Activists, Muslim and non-Muslim, must stand together and do everything to smash a racist state that is trying to divide us. 

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