Prominent British Muslim organisations and personalities have reacted with concern to the result of the European Union referendum.
Although voting patterns are still unclear it’s thought that up to two-thirds of British Muslims might have voted to remain within the EU, mainly because of fears that politics in Britain would move to the right if Brexit occurred.
Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “We have witnessed a campaign that has been divisive and at times has led to the scapegoating of immigrants and minority groups. It is vitally important now that those in power must come together and heal divisions. We must also work hard to change the tone of our politics, to continue to be welcoming to those who are in need and to be an outward looking country. And while our country has voted to officially leave the European Union, we hope we can nevertheless retain bonds of friendship and peace with the rest of the Continent.”
Reacting to the resignation of the Prime Minister, Dr Shafi added: “We thank the Prime Minister for his public service. While the government’s relationship with Muslim communities has been extremely challenging, we commend David Cameron for speaking out against Islamophobia. We hope his successor takes greater strides in working with Muslim communities and in resisting the temptation of xenophobia and intolerance that this result could possibly bring.”
The imam and broadcaster Ajmal Masroor was much more pessimistic.
He wrote on his Facebook page: “Today is not Independence Day for Britain, today is Britain’s darkest day when Nigel Farage’s racist vision of Britain has won. Today Britain First’s fascist mantra has won. This day the dark side of Britain has shown its ugly head. I am not just shocked I am deeply appalled at the outcome of the referendum and the implications.
“Today I have woken up to a Britain that I never realised existed. Today spitefulness has won the day. Many people may have innocently voted to leave EU because of fear or ignorance or anger but they were deeply influenced by the lead Brexit campaigners who represent a disturbing mindset that stems from a lethal concoction of racist, prejudiced, colonial, neocon, neoliberal and Islamophobic beliefs…
“Today 52% of British people have chosen the ugly philosophy of nationalism over one global humanity. Nation states were created by the colonisers to keep the world divided and safeguard their loot. Today’s leave vote has reinforced nationalism and the secret colonial aspirations of some Britons. I am deeply troubled that British people have rekindled their colonial past and supported the awful nationalism that has caused many wars, genocides and ethnic cleansing in the world.”
Masroor added that he was thinking of leaving the UK.
“I have lived and loved living in the UK for the last 44 years and I have never even thought of leaving this county but my heart has become restless today and my mind is telling me to leave. EU immigrants taking all the British jobs and straining Britain’s public service were the key referendum issues yesterday, what guarantee is there that tomorrow it won’t be other immigrant communities in the UK?
“I am a son of an immigrant and I don’t feel secure anymore knowing that British people had no trouble leaving EU that has people of white skin and Christian heritage. I can almost hear Nigel Farage and Britain First’s next campaign mantra – ‘get the Muslims out of Britain’ and ‘Muslims are taking British jobs,’ in fact Britain First has already called for a ban on Islam.
“I am brown and Muslim – both of my identities are visible and I am also a vocal public figure, when the English Defence League and Britain First would be looking for their next target, it would be easy to identify people like me. I fear for where Britain is heading after leaving EU and I am deeply troubled that I am already thinking about leaving Britain. I do not wish to act on my fears alone but I am a human too.”
Asim Qureshi and Moazzam Begg
Research director of CAGE, Asim Qureshi wrote on Facebook:
“My doomsday prediction and what we need to now rally against:
1. Nasty Islamophobic zio-fascists Theresa May or Boris Johnson will be the next Tory leader.
2. Jeremy Corbyn will be ousted for seeming too weak to stand up to them. We’ll go back to Blairite politics where power is more important than principle.
3. The Human Rights Act will be repealed.
4. Bill of Rights will be enacted.
5. Little England will lurch towards racism and Xenophobia as there will unchecked rhetoric in the mainstream.
6. Far right will become increasingly emboldened.
7. Politicians will strengthen Prevent claiming they need to deal with far right sentiments while simultaneous feeding a narrative that supports their bigotry.
8. Perfect conditions for the most repressive laws we’ve seen in the UK since forever.”
Moazzam Begg posted on Facebook: “Whichever way you voted – or not – in the EU referendum, it appears Europe’s xenophobes and racists are very happy today.”
MEND’s London Regional Coordinator Azad Ali wrote on Facebook:
“To my ethnic friends, to my fellow Muslims and in particular to those immigrants feeling lost, confused, apprehensive and in despair – please do not, you are not alone.
“To Muslims that voted Remain, yes there will be an increase in Islamophobia and hate in general. Those that peddle filth like that feel they have won the day. They haven’t, they win when you give in. When you think you have to find a new home or that this country isn’t worth your time that’s when they win.
“I know many Muslims voted Brexit in a ‘cut your nose to spite your face’ moment, but that’s what we expect from some, we don’t need to follow suit and make any emotional decision or actions. I’m sure they did what they felt was right but it’s together that we have to progress so no hard feelings.
“So stand tall for justice, for honesty, for fairness and enrich your soul for the long struggle that we embark upon.”
Finally, Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain said the vote was a symptom of a wider malaise within society.
In a statement the group said: “The concerns about racism and Islamophobia felt by Muslims are real. However, the decision to vote to leave is a symptom of endemic nationalism across Europe. Leaders on the Leave and Remain sides have been as bad as each other, fueling resentment, victimhood and hysteria around this topic. Both would rather blame immigrants for lack of housing, jobs and public services rather than their own inept policies.
“Moreover, rabid nationalism is not restricted to the UK. A European Union that puts interests of a remote, bureaucratic EU elite in Germany, Britain or France above ordinary people in Greece, Ireland or any other country could never succeed because of the inherent nationalism.
“The economic uncertainty now unleashed shows the fault-lines in the global capitalist system. Technological innovation, globalisation and the breakdown of traditional political structures has created forces that nation states and even unions of states can no longer cope with. The focus on profits rather than people, on security for the few rather than prosperity for the many has created mass schisms in western society. It is not for no reason that even the United States hoped the status quo would be maintained.
“An Islamic alternative vision for the world is to build a system around solving the affairs of the ordinary people. To unify people rather than divide them. To build ladders of opportunity not walls of protection. To engage in the politics of citizenship not the politics of fear. It is no accident that only the Islamic system has truly acted historically as a melting pot for different races, classes and religions.”