For all our non-UK readers, the current state of the United Kingdom’s political climate is an absolute mess — and probably looks very confusing — with words like “Brexit” and “Boris” regularly trending.
So allow me to (somewhat) explain. We currently have a leadership election for the next prime minister and it has been narrowed down to two Conservative candidates — Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt. Picture Johnson as the Trump of the UK, and Hunt as the person who failed the NHS, or the National Health Service, our national healthcare system. Both men are well-off, white, Tory politicians who hold similar capitalist, elitist views. To put it simply, our next prime minister is likely to be the “better” of two evils.
Last year, Johnson called Muslim women who wear niqabs, “letter boxes” and “bank robbers.”
The better of two evils he may be, but Johnson doesn’t have a good track record with Muslim women. He has repeatedly insulted, vilified, and dehumanized us to gain popularity amongst other politicians and members of the public. He is the perfect example of using “dog whistling” to appeal to the far-right racist voters. The odds are unfortunately pointing towards Johnson becoming PM. If that truly happens, it’s safe to say the United Kingdom will continue down a dark, dangerous period.
Last year, Johnson called Muslim women who wear niqabs, “letter boxes” and “bank robbers.” This incited a spike in hate attacks towards Muslim women across the country. Make no mistake, Muslim women are already a marginalised group within society. So, Mr. Johnson, while openly polarising Muslim women further through toxic, stereotyped narratives may propel your tragic political career forwards, this dehumanizing narrative also puts our lives in danger.
When questioned about his incendiary comments in public, the audience groaned at the reporter for questioning Johnson’s hateful comments. Groaned. To them, our lives, our issues, our worth, means nothing.
British politics has come to the level where throwing minorities under the bus to gain political popularity and respect has become the norm.
Another politician, Jacob Rees-Mogg, stood by Boris’ comments recently, and said that people shouldn’t be “snowflakes.” Muslim women being attacked in the streets for choosing to practice their religion in a country which claims to be open to free speech should not be taken lightly as casual banter, or a one-off occasion.
British politics has come to the level where throwing minorities under the bus to gain political popularity and respect has become the norm. It says a lot about the state our country is in.
The fact that Johnson consistently uses anti-Muslim rhetoric, and is applauded for it, suggests that his continuous dog-whistling undertones to voters may lead him to becoming the next prime minister. This is a leader who refuses to accept Islamophobia as a serious issue. A leader who used lies and fear-mongering with regards to immigrants during the 2016 referendum to cause Brexit. A leader who jokes about dead bodies in Libya, and says African people have “watermelon smiles.” His leadership will legitimise bigotry and allow racists to continue their work without any repercussions.
As an individual, there isn’t much I can do to prevent Johnson’s victory. As a collective, we can continue to speak out against hatred in all its forms. Keep pushing your MPs to recognise Islamophobia as a serious issue. Keep fighting, even if all the world is against you.
As for now, I can’t wait for the day England gets her first Brown or Muslim PM!