Reflections on the EU referendum – What now for Muslims?

The EU referendum has taught us many things, some were already known whilst others we learned during the journey, writes Jahangir Mohammed.

There has been a undeniable racist and anti-Muslim discourse to the Brexit campaign. This is not surprising given we have had nearly two decades of racist, and anti-Muslim prejudice flowing from the mouths of politicians and the media. Politicians have echoed far right messages, repeating racist and anti-Muslim tropes, albeit in the Queens English.

It is hypocritical to cry racism now, when all the Party’s have been engaged in “project hate and fear”. The public have been fed tales about Muslims and immigrants taking over, imposing Shariah law, entryism and Trojan horse; not adopting British values; a threat to “our way of life” and security; involved in grooming and raping white girls; too many Eastern Europeans and refugees flooding the country, leading to more crime, pressure on our services and cheating the benefit system.

It is to be expected that a large segment of society (including many Muslims), have swallowed these myths. No wonder some Brexiters are joyous thinking it is a new Reconquista! Once you light the fires of racism and hate, they are difficult to extinguish. Our politicians have been burnt by a fire of their own making.

Democracy and division

There are lot of people from all communities bemoaning the EU referendum result, and the lack of intelligence and facts on the side of the leavers. Some of their comments have been a mixture of emotions and anger. Many of the middle classes, clearly fear personal loss from this decision. Those that had little to lose don’t care about loss.

democracySadly, this is democracy. If you play and believe in the game, don’t complain about the rules and results. Democracy can, by its nature, expose and reinforce division.

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Britain is divided between, the white working classes, and the middle upper classes, south versus north, Scotland and Ireland versus England, London versus the rest of England.

That same division is also reflected amongst Muslims. Many middle class and more prosperous Muslims voting remain, venting their anger at what they see as the “ignorant”, “selfish” Muslims in northern towns voting leave.

The establishment and political class

The British establishment and political class are out of touch with ordinary people. The majority of the British people despise and distrust political parties. They may agree with them publicly, but privately they just don’t trust them. Party and Parliament have become self-serving. They pander to the interests of the rich and powerful (centred in London). Many communities outside of London feel the political system is irrelevant to their lives.

A Britain outside of London 

London has been the main beneficiary of the EU project, because global capital and finance are at its heart. Britain’s wealth, political power, and global media are concentrated in the City almost to the exclusion of the rest of the country. As a result of this, Londoners are out of touch with the poverty and lack of opportunities in the rest of the country.

This is true of many Muslims in London who simply don’t appreciate the situation of Muslims elsewhere, and why some do share the same views as the rest of the population on immigration.

parliamentMuslims particularly outside of London, face all kinds of prejudice and discrimination in jobs and services.

Workers from Europe who are white and non-Muslim are seen as competition, with white employers more likely to choose white Europeans for the limited jobs around.

The reality is that white Europeans have found it much easier to get jobs in the public and private sectors than second and third generation Muslims.


For most Muslims in the Midlands and the North, the main choice of work is either a takeaway, taxis, renting property, or self-employment dealing with their own community. Muslims are becoming economically excluded from the mainstream economy as a result of discrimination and the EU.

It is also often their inner city schools and services that the new migrants share, and these “newcomers” bring with them their own prejudices against black people and Muslims.

There is of course, interaction and solidarity between old and new migrants too. Trade, business, food, and also marriage. However, stereotypes exist, and many Muslims feel local anger at increased European migration is vented at them.

Muslims and EU referendum 

Some Muslims have become too cosy with the political class, Party interests, and politics. At times this relationship becomes so intertwined that it is difficult to distinguish between Party and community interests. Loyalty to Party agenda is leading to people giving religious justifications for Party policies and voting.

British MuslimsThere were some desperate messages and articles from Muslims using religious justification to remain in the EU, and its aftermath. Muslims need to find a way to separate genuine community agenda’s from party politics.

I would even suggest a declaration of party interest by Muslims when writing an opinion piece or guidance paper, asking people to vote or adopt a policy claiming it is in the “Muslim interest”.

This would allow the rest of us to make an informed judgement whether something is in a Party’s or community’s interest.

My view after discussions with a number of Muslims is that most (the middle class and the less well off) voted in a way they believed was in their personal interests. Therefore, for some to claim a holier than thou attitude, and insult (sometimes based on their origins) other Muslims for the way they voted, is unacceptable. We cannot criticise the prejudice of others whilst deploying it amongst ourselves. Don’t blame people for voting for personal benefit to leave, when the very basis of capitalism and Party politics encourages people to think that way, and you may have done so yourself!

The EU and Capitalism

The EU is at heart a capitalist expansionist project. It has achieved the capitalist takeover of former communist states without war, bringing them into the capitalist fold (a long term Cold War objective of the West against Communism). It sucks the wealth of the masses of member countries, and further concentrates that wealth in the hands of the rich and powerful multi-national corporations and international finance. It rewards the political elites, bureaucrats, and professionals who make it happen. Wealth and power becomes concentrated in large cities, whilst impoverishing the masses of most countries through the debt and interest based financial system.

This is the antithesis to Islam. Islam is opposed to the concentration of wealth and political power in the hands of a few and those who rule. Islam is opposed to the oppressive interest and debt based economic system that is causing misery and poverty across Europe, and the rest of the world.

I have been shocked to see so many Muslims who know this, but nevertheless expressed such enthusiastic support for the EU project.  Islam is a religion of challenge, justice and revolutionary change. It requires courage and sacrifice. Islamic economic justice applies to the suffering of all people – not just Muslims. Some Muslims are upset and are now talking about moving into other EU states. There is no such thing as a status quo comfortable Islam. I’m sorry, but if Brexit has upset your comfort zone, get used to it. There is more to come!

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