19 June 2024

Nigel Farage comments worrying for Muslims, says community leader

19 June 2024

Comments from Reform UK leader Nigel Farage about Muslims are “worrying”, a community leader said as she called for other political leaders to “step up” to address divisions.

Iman Atta, of the Tell Mama organisation which monitors Islamophobia in the UK, accused Mr Farage of “attacking and undermining Muslim communities” in an effort to get votes at the General Election on July 4.

Last month, Mr Farage said there are “a growing number of young people in this country who do not subscribe to British values, in fact loathe much of what we stand for”, when asked about Conservative plans to bring in national service for 18-year-olds.

Asked during that interview on Sky News if he was referring to Muslims, Mr Farage said: “We are.”

He obviously keeps on attacking and undermining Muslim communities... it’s actually quite worrying for us to see that, especially at a time when our country needs leadership that will bring communities together, not divide them further

Ms Atta said that, while his comments were “disgraceful”, they are “nothing new”, referring to other remarks he has made within the past decade.

Speaking in 2017, in the wake of the Westminster terror attack, Mr Farage told a US television network: “The problem with multiculturalism is that it leads to divided communities. It’s quite different to multiracialism. That’s fine, that can work very happily and extremely well. But we’ve finished up with very divided communities.

“I’m sorry to say that we have now a fifth column living inside these European countries.”

Ms Atta, referring to the “fifth column” remark, said: “He obviously keeps on attacking and undermining Muslim communities in any way that he can find in order to be able to attract more votes and spread more polarisation among communities.

“It’s actually quite worrying for us to see that, especially at a time when our country needs leadership that will bring communities together, not divide them further.”

I think it’s a time that we need to see better leadership step up

The Reform manifesto – which it has dubbed a “contract” – stated that: “Multiculturalism has imported separate communities that reject our way of life.”

Ms Atta said now is the time for “leadership that is calling out hatred and division, that is promoting integrity, that is addressing really what brings our communities together in a challenging time across the world.”

She added: “I think it’s a time that we need to see better leadership step up.”

Tell Mama has published its Manifesto Against Hate, with key proposals for the next government including the appointment of a Hate Crime Tsar to prioritise and oversee hate crime initiatives; more ministerial engagement with local communities “to foster inclusivity and reduce social divisions”; and boards to be established at local, regional, and national levels to promote dialogue and collaboration between Muslim and Jewish communities.

She said the relationships between the two communities, in the wake of the October 7 attacks and subsequent Israel-Gaza conflict, have suffered “quite a fracture” which will “take years to repair”.

She added: “I think what has happened is communities on all sides have just forgotten about the basic elements of understanding, empathy and listening.

“There has been a lack of empathy on both sides. A lack of care that emotions are running high. There has been a lot of abuse online towards both Muslim and Jewish communities, but also offline.”

Ms Atta said there has been “a lot of anger within Muslim communities on the approach the UK has had on the Israel-Gaza war”.

Regarding voters going to the polls next month, she said some Muslims feel that engagement with a new government, “whoever that government is, is key in order to be able to lobby and change the dynamics of how we speak about the war but equally how we address the issues that are arising (in communities in the UK) off the back of the war in Israel and Gaza”.

The Conservative manifesto says abuse or discrimination based on religion “is unacceptable” and added that the party does “not tolerate anti-Muslim hatred and will seek to stamp it out wherever it occurs”.

Labour has pledged “reverse the Conservatives’ decision to downgrade the monitoring of antisemitic and Islamophobic hate”.

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