Combating Islamophobia in the UK indigenously and exogenously

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DR AMIN KASHMEERY

It has been quite a while since my articles on this subject appeared in this newspaper. However, in the meantime, some developments are unfolding within, and outside, the UK. This article will attempt to assess the potential impact thereof.

On March 22, 2018, I received a message from The Right Honourable The Lord Mayor of the City of London, through the executive director of his office saying:

“The Lord Mayor and I would like to thank you for making us aware of your concerns regarding the safety of Saudi investments in the UK and for sharing your articles in the Saudi Gazette with the Court of Common Council and Court of Aldermen.”

The initial response of any writer is usually a sense of gratification that the word did hit home. In this particular case I felt more than that; a sense of relief that my attempt to protect my countrymen is gathering momentum.

Obviously, I realize that no matter how naïve I might be, this sense should be controlled to remain as a relief, i.e. not to reach euphoria with a pinch of psychedelic animation. The relief stems from the fact that I have put my foot on the right path to offer some help to my countrymen, who are obliviously unwary of the serious risks that are awaiting their investment in the UK.

The message of The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of London does entail some indication of serious endeavor to explore ways of combating the malady potentially inflicting both parties: investors and beneficiaries. This could be classified as downright indigenous. Consequently, a meeting has been arranged to take place at the Mansion House shortly. My input therein would constitute the exogenous dimension, as it were. I sincerely believe that a positive outcome is within reach, should it not fall on deaf ears. My diagnosis of aetiology I intend to set out in that meeting could help focusing on specific segments of the defect, thereby paving the way for a sensible, non-invasive treatment plan. A combination of indigenous/exogenous scheme would ultimately bring investment home and dry.

Now let us not go too high with expectations. We all know that the role of Lord Mayor of London is defined as: “The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of the City of London is an international ambassador for the UK’s financial and professional services sector”.

(https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-the-city/the-lord-mayor/Pages/default.aspx)

This definition clearly states a purely civic role that has nothing to do with public security. Nevertheless, the same website declares that: “The Lord Mayor works closely with the Mayor of London, Mr. Sadiq Khan.”

There might be some readers who would resort to a counterargument that could be used to question Mr. Sadiq Khan’s effectiveness in this combat by saying that he himself “faced death threats in a string of racist social media messages that he warned could put black, Asian and minority ethnic people off a career in politics.”

(https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/12/sadiq-khan-to-slam-government-for-dereliction-of-duty-in-failing-to-regulate-tech)

Those readers do have a point. So, we should not be blamed for wondering why, in their capacity, both men did not declare -in a joint communiqué- any measures they are taking through other security/political/civil bodies to protect those invited to invest in the UK.

On the political front, foreign investors, Saudis or otherwise, are aware of the dramatic swings of decisions in the system, when it comes to delicate issues, such as ethnic minorities; their rights and security. Investors are perhaps fully aware of actions, but not so much of the motives.

Take the latest incident, the Amber Alert (term coined by the Economist), for instance. It is very difficult for an outsider to read the fine detail of the political implications behind the scene.

In his first appearances, the newly appointed Home Secretary, Mr. Sajid Javid, declared unequivocally that: “My first priority is to ensure the Home Office does all it can to keep British people safe.”

(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5673115/Sajid-Javid-replaces-Amber-Rudd-Home-Secretary-LIVE-Updates-shock-reshuffle.html)

This was followed by declaring that “his ‘most urgent’ task is to make sure people caught up in the Windrush fiasco are treated with the “decency and fairness” they deserve.

(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5673115/Sajid-Javid-replaces-Amber-Rudd-Home-Secretary-LIVE-Updates-shock-reshuffle.html)

Reading his CV, one can only admire Mr. Javid as a very smart person. Still, we wish him luck in deciding which of them comes first; either his “first priority” or his “most urgent task”. But the most important questions we have are these:

• Can he (will he) collaborate with the Mayor of London and the Lord Mayor of London City to put that in action?

• Will they (individually or collectively) listen to what we (citizens/visitors/investors) have to say to help?

• Will they/can they convince foreign investors that the platform in the UK will be safe soon?

• Will they/can they (individually or collectively) put their political affiliation aside, when they roll up their sleeves to tackle these tasks?

The answers to these questions would leave no doubt that the combat - although mixed - is equally indigenous as much as it is exogenous.

Dr. Amin Kashmeery

— The author is Emeritus Professor of Physiology, and Former Head of Bioethics Section at King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Jeddah/Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He can be contacted at: oxforefo@yahoo.com


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