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British Muslim groups have expressed feeling “let down” by the government and the Labour Party regarding their handling of the UK’s involvement in the conflict in Gaza.
Although many have urged for a ceasefire to be called in Gaza, where the reported number of deaths has surpassed 10,000, Rishi Sunak has not only declined to do so but has also fired a Conservative MP who called for one. Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been criticized for exacerbating tensions by consistently labeling pro-Palestine demonstrations as “hate marches” and “mobs”.
Criticism has been directed towards Sir Keir Starmer for his refusal to urge for a ceasefire. Recently, one of his frontbenchers resigned due to disagreement with the Labour leader’s stance. Imran Hussain MP, who has held a position on Labour’s frontbench for nearly eight years, expressed deep concern over the Labour leader’s widely criticized interview on LBC.
Sir Keir caused a lot of anger following the 7 October attacks in Israel, where it was reported that 1,400 people died. This was due to his comments implying that Israel had the authority to stop the supply of water and energy to Gaza. However, he clarified his stance 10 days later, stating that he did not mean to say that Israel had the right to restrict access to necessities such as water, food, fuel, or medicine.
However, it seems that the harm has already been done. According to a survey conducted by Muslim Census, out of 29,000 responses, 66 percent of Muslim voters stated that they would not support the Labour party in the upcoming general election.
According to Dr Haitham Al-Haddad, who leads the Fatwa Committee for The Islamic Council of Europe, Muslim communities are feeling disillusioned and discouraged by the government’s stance on the Gaza conflict.
The speaker emphasized that the issue at hand is not limited to Palestinians or Muslims, but rather concerns the loss of innocent human lives, including children, that has been witnessed by the global community.
He stated that the protests reflect the desires of the people, but the government is not paying attention. If the government continues to disregard this issue, it will undermine British values and democracy. People will view it as hypocrisy, rather than democracy.
Imam Yunus Dudhwala, Head of Chaplaincy at Barts Health NHS Trust, said the “catastrophic devastation carried out by the Israeli Government has been given the green light by our government, without any condemnation or accountability to international humanitarian law.
The speaker expressed concern over the high death toll among Palestinians, specifically 5,000 children and 3,000 women, with a total of more than 10,000 fatalities. Despite this, their government has not made efforts to call for a ceasefire. The Muslim communities in the UK are questioning whether Muslim lives hold value.
According to Tell MAMA, a charity that tracks anti-Muslim incidents, there has been a seven-fold rise in such incidents in the past month since 7 October. The Metropolitan Police has reported a 1,353% increase in antisemitic attacks in London, citing tension from the Israel-Hamas conflict as a contributing factor.
The religious leader stated that a significant portion of the community believes that the increase in Islamophobia may be attributed to the deliberate use of divisive language by certain high-ranking politicians. This has caused British Muslims to wonder if they will receive equal protection.
Dr. Al-Haddad expressed concern about the concerning polarization that has emerged in the past month.
“I am greatly concerned by the fact that the Muslim communities have lost all faith in the leadership and establishment,” he stated. “George Bush’s statement after 9/11, ‘you’re either with us or against us’, has caused a deep division once again. It’s possible that we have already surpassed this point.”
I am unsure of how individuals will respond when they feel let down by their government or the international community. It is unclear if the authorities are taking this matter seriously.
British Palestinian, Hassan Kamal, has resided in the UK for four decades. He shared the same view, stating that the government’s lack of response has made him feel like a lower-class individual.
A 55-year-old data architect shared that even though they have lived in Britain for 40 years, they no longer feel like it is their country. They expressed concern about the future they want for their children.
Amna Abdullatif, a councillor from Manchester City, was among the initial group of councillors to step down from the Labour Party. However, she claims that she has not received any correspondence from a Member of Parliament or the national Labour Party regarding her resignation. Over 30 Labour councillors have now left the party, and over 330 local leaders have called for a change in direction.
She stated, “After ten years of campaigning in the Labour Party, we have not received a single word.” She expressed disappointment in the treatment that she and other resignees have received.
Shaista Aziz, a city councillor in Oxford, stated that the current conflict is not limited to the Muslim community, but rather a humanitarian issue. However, she also expressed concern over the disproportionate impact on the Muslim and Jewish communities due to the increasing levels of islamophobia and antisemitism.
This has caused pain for British Muslims as we feel disregarded, condescended, and falsely accused of being anti-Semitic and hateful.
A representative from the Labour party stated that they acknowledge the calls for a cessation of hostilities. It is the shared desire of all parties to put an end to the ongoing violence and suffering. It is imperative that hostages are freed and aid reaches those who are most vulnerable.
“However, implementing a ceasefire at this time would only temporarily halt the ongoing conflict and would not address the issue of hostages in Gaza or Hamas’ ability to conduct similar attacks like the one on October 7.”
It is crucial to adhere to international law and prioritize the safety of innocent civilians at all times. The Labour party is advocating for breaks in the fighting to provide necessary humanitarian aid.
This is the most effective and practical approach to dealing with the crisis in Gaza, and it is supported by our key allies, including the US and the EU.
The Independent has reached out to the government for a response.