Preparing for the next Thursday’s vote, Muslims in north Kensington, West London, fear that rising polarization in the society would increase Islamophobia and hate.
“My concern is with what’s going on so much at the moment in society: the polarization taking place between people – the hate and the anger that exists in our communities,” Khalid Hasan, the owner of a rug shop, told The Independent, trying to pinpoint those issues that matter to him ahead of next week’s vote.
“What we hear in the news – the hate crimes and violence, Islamophobia – is quite disturbing for us,” the 45-year-old added.
Hasan is a member of Kensington’s Muslim community, stretching from Ladbroke Grove up to Trellick Tower.
Recent research has shown that the Muslim electorate can swing the capital’s Kensington and Putney seats, along with 29 others across the UK.
Against this backdrop of division and inequality, Hasan and his fellow Muslims head to the polls on 12 December with more power to shape the Kensington vote than they may realize.
At a time of divisive tribalism, disinformation, and hollow rhetoric, many Muslims have yet to even decide themselves.
“There are a lot of lies,” said Hasabseeda, taking a break from the parenting session she’s been leading at Kensington’s Al Manaar Mosque.
“There are a lot of promises which the politicians are not going to fulfill,” the 69-year-old social worker adds. “It’s not very clear where to vote.”
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has shown almost half of England’s Muslims live in the country’s 10 most deprived areas, subjecting them to the high crime rates, overcrowded housing and low educational attainment that are part of the vicious circle of poverty.
“It isn’t just about poverty, though,” said Zainab Gulamali, a public affairs manager at the MCB, as she outlines the key voting concerns of the UK’s Muslims.
“We asked about healthcare and found that their top concerns were cuts to the NHS and the availability of services. These two things impact almost everyone in Britain, but they do impact Muslims in particularly acute ways. For example, in terms of mental health treatment, Muslims have been found to be under-referred.”
The rise of Islamophobia, and particularly the mainstreaming of Islamophobic views in political discourse, is hugely concerning for British Muslims.
“Many Muslims are fed up of Islamophobia being normalized, of MPs, councilors, candidates and even the Prime Minister making Islamophobic comments and facing almost no repercussions. People expect better of their politicians, and British Muslims deserve representatives that actually seek to represent them,” added Gulamali.
As the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) released a list of 31 constituencies where Muslim voters could swing seats, pushing for a nationwide voter registration drive, three leading British Muslim organizations, earlier this month, also urged Muslims to vote in the upcoming general election to make their voices heard and exercise their civil obligations to fully engage in the society.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), MEND (Muslim Engagement & Development), and Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPACUK) believe that Muslims have the power to decide the next government.