How would a Brexit from the European Union affect British Muslims?

With the polls creeping towards the Leave the camp, news stories detailing political uncertainty and economic recession continue to flood the conveyor belt that is the British media.

Whilst the overall post-Brexit conditions our society and policy-makers alike will find themselves in, remains clouded with unprecedency, the very real question regarding the impact Brexit will have on British Muslims has been shockingly left untouched. In this pop-political manoeuvre favouring right-wing English nationalists, this is frighteningly reckless.

With the savage assassination of MP Jo Cox last week, “White Terrorism” is coming to a head, and should the Leave camp succeed, this will only pave the way to a socio-political environment the creation of the EU sought to, and has succeeded in preventing from reoccurring by and large.

The likes of Nigel Farage and his co-ideologists in Britain First have everything to gain from a potential Brexit. Leveraged electoral strategy will be heightened if Britain First and/or UKIP can narrow in on the sectors of society that clung onto the Remain camp. This will elevate their potential voting success and subsequent ability to influence British politics, without a shadow of a doubt quilting mainstream politics with anti-Islamic rhetoric (such as banning the religion all together, implementing “Christian Patrols” in ethnic minority communities…) Essentially, the rise of these right wing extremist organisations will only gain a twisted form of legitimacy should the Leave camp emerge victorious. The xenophobic vitriol that Murdoch et al has inked for decades, will begin to transfer from press to protocol.

The European enforced, Human Rights Act which the aforementioned, (and admittedly Prime Minister David Cameron) seek to repeal, is probably the most tragic gain for the Eurosceptics and ‘ghost victorious’ Britain First. For clarification, yes; many a human rights theorist has criticised the Human Rights Act and its surrogate, the European Convention of Human Rights, especially in regards to the acceptability of flagrant abuses of Freedom of Religion (siding with the state as holding a margin of appreciation against women in France and Turkey who observe the hijab in public institutions). These are all accepted criticisms in a gap analysis between the present and ideal. However, the EU was formed with the aim of bringing peace and protection of civil liberties, at least in pseudo-watchdog spirit.

Total revocation of the Human Rights Act, which has been viewed as the terrorist’s ticket to Shangri-La luxury in prison, leaves a shelled demarcation which will only be filled with racist and Islamophobic politics. Government strategies, such as PREVENT, which encourages school teachers to spy on children as young as 3 and report “signs of radicalisation” is only stimulating the slowly decaying wedge that many young Muslims feel between themselves and greater British society.  Much like the impact of racial profiling of African-Americans in the USA, PREVENT is handing the keys of the watch tower to the blind. It is allowing potentially culturally illiterate educators, to determine the future, and how their peers view them, of Muslim kids in the British education system.  Ironically, it is these kinds of tried and tried again policies that are ideologically catapulting aggrieved young Muslims into ISIS territory.

Moreover, the use of “secret evidence” which will only be used at judicial whims with more intensity should the Human Rights Act be totally absent in the post-ECHR terrain. A nebulous and viciously discriminatory practice used at incarcerating individuals without trial or access to information concerning their imprisonment, not only is shrapnel to the democratic process, but also profiles Muslims.

Of course, these have come about with the existence of the Human Rights Act, but only with significant contention and staunch legal opposition against the above practices and the wider European discussion surrounding human rights.

These discussions are held on a wider pro-Europe scope, being part of the EU maintains a (healthier) platform for discussion on the concerns of Muslims living in the UK and vice versa.  With large European initiatives such as Erasmus, encouraging Europeans to study abroad, there is a significant increase in the likelihood of students from countries with sizeable Muslim populations (France, Holland, UK) in mixing Muslims and non-Muslims abroad.

The political framework of the EU creates ripe socio-political interconnectedness if used properly, which anchors significant counterbalance and critique against macro policies which directly affects Muslims – from the treatment of Muslims pre and post #JeSuisCharlie to Fortress Europe’s management of the refugee crisis.  The existence of the EU and a more integrated Britain in its agenda demands participation of Muslims in social and cultural life, because the alternative could potentially mean finding common ground with those outside this structure – namely and more worryingly amongst Salafists abroad. The EU is aiding Muslims to anchor themselves in its cultural reality and in turn, with the right strategy, will promote Islam being viewed as a European religion

by Amira Rodriguez

Amira is a Hispanic revert working in the Financial Services Industry with a background in Political Economics and Law. She’s passionate about architecture, food and travel.

Editor’s note: We encourage all those eligible to vote to do so, whichever way they choose. The following views are those of the author only.