Rushanara Ali, the Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, dodged a grilling from Dilly Hussain when asked about why she voted in support of the Same Sex Marriage policy.
Ali attended an event held in my hometown of Bedford titled “Labour Friends of Bangladesh Bedford.” The main objectives of the event were to secure Bangladeshi votes for ex-MP of Bedford Patrick Hall, to get more Bangladeshi youth involved with the Labour party, and to criticise the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition policies.
When I was refused an interview due to “time constraints” I was given the privilege of asking the first question in the Q & A session in which only two questions were allowed.
So I asked her: “Rushanara Ali, you said to judge a politician on the substance of their actions and decisions. So please explain to the audience why you voted in support of the Same Sex Marriage policy when you had the choice not to vote for or against it.”
I asked her to give her explanation in Bengali because the majority of the attendees were middle-aged or elderly men who either did not understand English or had a below basic standard of English. She outright refused! I wonder why?
After her face blushed red, she took a moment, gave me a cold look and responded: “We decided.” I then interrupted: “I asked why you supported, not we as in the Labour party or other Muslim MPs.”
She went on to say: “The reason why I voted in support of the Same Sex Marriage policy is because we live in a liberal and tolerant society where everyone has the freedom of speech, expression and in this case, choice of sexuality. The policy only affects civil marriages and not religious institutions. We live in a secular country where religion and state are separate therefore no one’s religious views or opinions should infringe on others.
“I have fought and lobbied for other minority group’s rights, including that of the Asian community; therefore the Labour Party had to show consistency of policy in helping minority groups.”
I waited for her to exit the building to get another chance to ask more questions, but little did I know there were already other attendees who wanted to ask questions on the same topic.
I asked her: “Why did you refuse to answer my question in Bengali, was it because you knew the majority of the audience would disagree with your stance outright?” She did not respond. “What if homosexuality is taught to our children in later years as part of the national curriculum?” No response, but another cold look.
Another man asked her: “You got off lightly Rushanara. You gave a political answer in a language the audience did not understand!” Another gentleman asked: “Would you support your children if they decided to have a gay marriage?”
She drove off with her entourage and some of the organisers of the event accused me of causing a scene. I explained that holding politicians to account for their decisions and actions is the norm in the West, in the Muslim world you may get killed, imprisoned or at least get a beating for it. So utilise your opportunity.
Without going into my personal views on Islam, democracy and whether it has achieved anything for the Muslim ummah, the main focal point of this event was to produce more Rushanara Alis in the future as she was depicted to be the ideal role model for Bangladeshi and Muslim women in Britain.
Many people may praise her for coming to the UK at the age of seven, an Oxford graduate who became a successful businesswoman then a member of parliament. But her reasons for supporting an act which is clearly against the teachings of Islam where there is no difference of opinion (but rather a total consensus) raises questions about her character and what she really represents. The same applies to other Muslims MPs who voted in support of the Same Sex Marriage policy.
You can follow Dilly Hussain on Twitter @DillyHussain88
Photo taken by Abdul Kabir of Vanity & Virtue