First Scottish Muslim Woman MP on Empowerment & Rights

EDINBURGH – Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, the first Scottish Muslim woman Member of Parliament in Westminster, said on Thursday, October 15, that Muslim women will fight for their rights across the world, stressing that terrorist groups are the antidote to her faith.

“I think space needs to be created for women across the world, and particularly women in the Muslim world, because we have a sense of validity when we talk about our religion,” Tasmina said in an exclusive interview to Al Arabiya English.

A member of the Scottish National Party, Tasmina has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Ochil and South Perthshire since May 2015.

Tasmina said that we need to make sure that women across the world have an opportunity to work together and try and find a solution to combat whatever is driving people to these actions that are certainly not representative of Islam.

“One of my plans is to introduce an annual international Muslim women parliamentarian summit,” Tasmina said.

“The idea is to bring Muslim women parliamentarians from all over the world to talk about how we can share our good policies in action and what we can do to alleviate poverty and have a different narrative about Islam and about what Muslim women stand for,” she said.

Scotland has about 75,000 Muslims. About 40% of them live in Glasgow.

Muslims are the second largest religious group in the country, which has around thirty mosques.

Rising Challenges

Amid rising challenges facing Muslims in the west, the Muslim MP confirmed that the so-called Islamic State is actually the antidote to Islam.

“Da’esh (ISIS) doesn’t represent Islam indeed and, in fact, I feel that Islam is the anti-dote to ISIS,” she said.

Burkini ban was another issue that raised controversy surrounding Muslim women in Europe and France in particular.

“Women have had to fight for every single right that they now have and we will continue to fight it,” she said, adding that it should entirely and always be a matter for women [to decide].

Tasmina said that she has faith in the American people and hopes that they will see through some of “the horrendous rhetoric, not the least in terms of what has been said about Muslims, wouldn’t be welcome in America”.

“I was the first in the House of Commons to ask the then Home Secretary Theresa May, who is now Prime Minister, to treat such rhetoric in the same manner we should treat other hate preachers. So let us see what happens,” she said in the interview.

The growing trend of right-wing politics in Europe was another challenge and circumstances that led to Brexit.

“Unfortunately for the people of UK, the European referendum was fought in the backdrop of anti-immigrant sentiment,” she said.

“This is not good for United Kingdom, and for our standing in the world. We would challenge all of this rhetoric because we want to be part of a world that welcomes each other,” Tasmina said.