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5 Muslim MPs Who Voted Against Free School Meals in the UK

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This decision has drawn severe criticism from around the country, most notably from Manchester United and England football player Marcus Rashford, who had previously led a successful campaign earlier this year that would enable hungry children to have access to free meals during the summer holidays.

In a shockingly disturbing move, a motion brought forth to the UK Commons to have an initiative that would see free meals available for students during the October half-term break and summer holidays has been voted out. This initiative would enable students coming from already disenfranchised families to have access to free meals during the holidays, helping families who have been hit hardest by the pandemic and already struggling with poverty.

With more than 300 Conservative MPs voting against the campaign, therefore defeating the motion, this decision has sent shockwaves across the country. At least five of those who voted against the free-meal initiative for students are Muslim MPs.

This decision has drawn severe criticism from around the country, most notably from Manchester United and England football player Marcus Rashford, who had previously led a successful campaign earlier this year that would enable hungry children to have access to free meals during the summer holidays. Drawing upon his own struggles growing up and the troubles his mother went through simply to feed him, Rashford has arguably done more for the country than many of these MPs who have now voted against this very initiative.

Most shockingly, even Nigel Farage, one of the most disliked right-wing politicians in Britain, called the government “mean” and asked why there was money for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme after the initial COVID lockdowns but not enough for helping hungry schoolchildren have access to free meals during the holidays.

As of now, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has claimed that the government will look at the motion again at Christmas to see if “help is needed”, but accused the Labour-backed motion of simply “attempting to embarrass the government”.

While the government continues to vote out motions that could potentially help protect the lives of countless children across the nation suffering from not only systemic poverty but severe implications from the pandemic, it remains imperative on our parts to call out our MPs and politicians who voted against this motion. Here are the five Muslim (with the exception of Sajid Javid, who has described himself as a “non-practicing Muslim”) MPs who voted against providing free school meals for hungry schoolchildren:

Imran Ahmad Khan (Conservative, Wakefield)

Born and raised in Wakefield to a mixed Pakistani and British background, Khan has been the Conservative MP for Wakefield since 2019. Having previously worked for the United Nations as a special assistant for political affairs in Mogadishu, Khan was a staunch supporter of Brexit and has attributed his victory of being elected as an MP to his support around leaving the European Union in 2016.

Nusrat Ghani (Conservative, Wealden)

Originally born in Kashmir, Ghani has been a Conservative MP for Wealden since 2015. Previously serving as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport and Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Ghani was also the first Muslim woman minister to speak from the House of Commons despatch box.

Sajid Javid (Conservative, Bromsgrove)

Born in Rochdale, Lancashire to a British Pakistani family, Javid has served as the Conservative MP for Bromsgrove since 2010. The Home Secretary from 2018 to 2019 and the Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2019 to 2020, after former Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation, Javid stood for the Leader of the Conservative Party in the 2019 leadership contest, finishing in 4th place. Boris Johnson, who successfully won, later appointed Javid as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Javid resigned as Chancellor during a cabinet reshuffle in 2020.

Rehman Chishti (Conservative, Gillingham and Rainham)

A Pakistani-British Conservative MP for Gillingham and Rainham since the 2010 general election, Chishti was the UK’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief from 2019 until September of 2020. He is the Vice Chair of the Conservative Party for Communities, and has also served as the Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to Pakistan. Chishti also voted to Leave during the Brexit referendum in 2016.

Saqib Bhatti (Conservative, Meriden)

Of Pakistani background, Bhatti is a Conservative MP for Meriden since the 2019 general election, and was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours “for services to diversity and inclusion in the business community” because of his work as the President of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. Saqib was also on the National Board for Vote Leave during the EU Referendum in 2016, where he launched the “Muslims for Britain” campaign in an attempt to sway ethnic minority voters into the Leave campaign.

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