‘We had to break the status quo’: UK campaign seeks to mobilise Muslim vote | Politics

a A campaign group aiming to rally the Muslim community in the run-up to the general election says it wants to ensure their vote is “taken seriously” and aims to draw up a list of candidates to support later this year. He said that

Campaign group Muslim Vote wants to encourage as many Muslims as possible to vote in the upcoming general election, focusing on the most influential constituencies of Britain’s 3.9 million Muslims. I believe.

Campaign coordinator and spokesperson Abubakr Nanabawa, 24, described the mobilization of Muslim voters as “historic”, especially in light of the Israeli military offensive in Gaza, and said many people were “really worried” at the polling stations. He said he hopes to bring about “change in the future.” , more than 35,000 people died.

“Actively supporting Israel’s response meant we felt we had to break free from the status quo in which Labor won the Muslim vote unanimously,” he said. “Instead, the message is that if any government wants our vote, it has to earn it.”

The campaign group, which claims to be backed by multiple organizations, was launched in December after a vote on a ceasefire in Gaza was rejected in parliament a month earlier.

Two of the groups supporting the campaign were named in Parliament earlier this year by communities secretary Michael Gove, who said they would be assessed against the government’s new definition of extremism. Nevertheless, the coordinator said he supported the British Muslim Association and Muslim Engagement Development. Both organizations strongly deny the accusations of extremism and described Mr Gove’s move as a “blatant effort to stifle voices of opposition”.

Mr Nanabawa described the outcome of the ceasefire vote as a “moment of great disappointment and anger”.

“That vote was a big deal for many Muslims, especially the Labor Party, which has spent years trying to claim the Muslim vote and basically take ownership of it, but is generally looking for the voice of Muslim voters. “This confirms that there is no respect for the ceasefire,” he said.

Labor’s position on the Gaza conflict has changed since the Hamas attack on October 7 last year, which killed around 1,200 people and took 250 hostages. The party has been calling for an immediate ceasefire in the region and the release of all hostages since February.

A voter hands over a ‘Free Palestine’ mural painted on the wall as he arrives at the polling station for the Rochdale by-election. Photo: Christopher Thomond/Guardian

However, some have drawn a link between Labor’s initial support for attacking Israel and its declining popularity among Muslim communities.

In 58 council wards where more than one in five residents identify as Muslim, Labour’s vote share fell by 21% in this year’s local elections, according to BBC analysis. Labor’s victory in the West Midlands mayoral election was particularly close, with independent candidate Ahmed Yacoub, who campaigned partly on the Gaza Strip ticket, coming third. That was also a factor.

Mr Nanabawa, who said he had already spoken to thousands of Muslim voters, said the two main issues people were concerned about were the attacks in Gaza and the cost of living crisis.

The campaign group, the co-ordinator said, is not a religious group and does not represent all British Muslims, but is in line with its policy demands on foreign policy and will be running a “large number of candidates as the election approaches” across all constituencies. The plan is to recommend the following. NHS and education.

Asked whether candidates should be elected on a single issue, Mr Nanabawa said:

“What is really clear about this campaign is that we want to reinvigorate the spirit of democracy that has been lost in our long-standing two-party system, where people feel they have no choice but to vote Labor. I think that’s what it means.” Or conservatives. ”

A Labor Party spokesperson said Keir Starmer would not “take a single electorate for granted” and the party would “work hard” to ensure confidence within the community.

He added: “In the UK, we will continue to work with Muslim communities to show support, recognize their contribution and tackle rising Islamophobia.” And internationally, we will not ease our demands for an immediate ceasefire, the immediate release of all hostages, and the lifting of all Israeli restrictions on the flow of aid to alleviate the humanitarian emergency in Gaza. ”