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Muslim Momentum – Your weekly round up of UK and European news stories

From islamophobia tainted rivalry within the Scottish Labour Party to praising WWII hero and murderer Winston Churchill.



Scotland: Wear a headscarf, lose my leftwing vote

SMP Anas Sarwar and children. His wife Furheen was targeted during leadership campaign (Photo: Daily Record)

Scottish MP Anas Sarwar has described how support for his bid to become party leader last summer faded. A senior colleague told him she had been planning to back him. However, a photo had changed her mind. What was the incriminating, leadership stalling picture which had so compromised his public standing as to make him unelectable to the colleague? It was an innocuous seeming photo of his family.

Sarwar explained: “My wife wears a hijab and she said, based on the picture she saw of my wife, she couldn’t vote for me in the leadership election.” Meanwhile Scottish Labour Party confirmed that another councillor accused of racially abusing Mr Sarwar, Davie McLachlan has been suspended, pending an investigation.

Sarwar is the perfect candidate but that’s not enough

No further explanation appears to have been given. The fact his wife is a practising and covering Muslim was enough for this Left wing political ‘sister’ to withdraw professional support for an otherwise worthwhile campaign. She was saying that Sarwar was perfect for the job of party leader, but, you know, the whole wife in a scarf thing was a bit…(fill in your own prejudicial statement here).

Not all uncomfortable moments happen in bathrobes in high class hotel suites. Nor are the perpetrators of harassment and prejudice by any means always men. With increasing regularity it is women on the Left and the Right of the political spectrum who most express hatred for a Muslim woman’s choice of modesty. Yes, our choice, freely taken, thought through and mulled over with no pressure from men. Imagine!  

“There must be a full internal review of anti-Muslim prejudice in the Scottish Labour Party” Lauren Booth

Britain First deputy Jayda Fransen 31, is another one who feels she has the right to negatively impact the lives of others because of an internal voice telling her she knows how Muslim women think and all about our lives. Franzen, who regularly brandishes a white cross on marches, was, this week in court accused of hate crimes, along with the leader of the far-right group Paul Golding.

She is accused of causing a woman to miscarry after she screamed racist abuse through her letter box. The court was told of an incident in 2016 in Luton. As part of a “Christian patrol” Fransen shouted at a hijabi shopper that she was wearing her scarf ‘because your men can’t control their urges’, said the prosecution.

Like Fransen, senior Labour representatives in Scotland, who withdrew political support for a colleague on the grounds of his wife’s dress, or his race and faith need to be called out. 

There must be a full internal review of anti-Muslim prejudice in the Scottish Labour Party. It is unacceptable that able politicians from any walk of life can be blocked from leadership positions by a prejudice so endemic it’s positively casual.

In the meantime, a message to fellow women about hijab wearers: when you make assumptions about our choices, it is you who deny us a voice and negatively impact our safety, not men.

VIDEO: Fransen appeals for legal fees from President Trump

Winston Cafe Wars: Remembering the call to gas the Kurds

There is a war rumbling amongst the bacon baps and oversized hipster coffee mugs of North London after a group of protestors ‘stormed’ a Winston Churchill themed cafe in Finsbury Park on Saturday. 

Customers choosing to eat at the Blighty UK Cafe drink from Churchill mugs beneath hanging models of Spitfire planes and Union Jack flags. The cafes signature dish is the full English ‘Winston,’ a traditional breakfast with Cumberland sausage and black pudding.

Part of me loves the passion of the nine SOAS university students who probably feel they represent the voiceless (more likely uninterested) locals who have to suffer the indignity (they probably don’t notice) of the ‘poorly thought and insensitive branding’ of the cafe.

The other part of me wants to give them a good telling off for doing something so utterly counter productive to community relations.

Students staging their protest at Blighty UK, Finsbury Park. (Photo: News Limited)

Cafe owner Chris Evans, 47, said “I have already invited these people in for coffee to discuss their concerns. I would much rather they came to debate in a civilised manner what it means to be British in modern Britain.”

“I laughed aloud at the ludicrous moment when Churchill got all teary and gripped the hand of a patriotic West Indian Londoner.”

Scaring cafe workers and diners is hardly going to make them throw off the cloak of an imperial mindset (which they may not have) and say: ‘good point chaps let’s work together for a fairer world.’

Let’s be straight, Halimo Hussein, the co-president of Equality and Liberation at SOAS, has a point when it comes to the current unhealthy re imagining of Winston Churchill as an irascible charming hero. I want to see Darkest Hour this week. I laughed aloud at the ludicrous moment when Churchill got all teary and gripped the hand of a patriotic West Indian Londoner. What rubbish. Churchill make no mistake was a brutal imperialist with disdain for the rights of non British, non white, human beings. As colonial secretary, in the 1920s, he responded to a rebellion against British rule by Iraqi Kurds saying: “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes… [It] would spread a lively terror.”

However, instead of annoying breakfasting locals, I have a suggestion for the protestors. Just go and eat at the Blighty Commonwealth Cafe just a mile away. There the inspiration is taken ‘from the great commonwealth powerhouse of India, championing it through our decor, menu and atmosphere’. The owners even have a ‘hub’ of work spaces encouraging in particular social enterprises to share their projects. 

Things are rarely as black and white as we’d like them to be. Winston Churchill was both a second world war hero AND a murderer of colonised peoples. 

Meanwhile, both the ‘Blighty UK’ cafe in Finsbury Park with the Churchill mugs and the one in Tottenham with the commonwealth feel, have the same owner. 

How fitting, how very modern British.

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