Muslims have been let down by the mainstream – mainstream society, the mainstream media, and most of all the mainstream political parties.
There are Muslims doing well in society. Muslims are over-represented in business, the professions and even some sports. But we are also over-represented in cleaning jobs, taxis and even prisons.
Why would this be the case, when a lot of Muslims have more of a focus on education, hard work and achievement than others?
The media is just as bad. It’s the job of the elitist media to dehumanise us, demonise us, and libel us. There is little difference between the way some parts of the media talk about us and how fascist regimes – past and present – discuss minorities.
But this all starts at the top, with politics. Sure, there are prominent Muslims in political parties, and some have even led political parties. One example is Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who after being Chairperson of the UK Conservative party, has now blown the whistle on the rampant Islamophobia in British politics that meant her colleagues viewed her as “the enemy within” – even while she was leading them.
In response to this, a lot of Muslims have given up on politics altogether, spending less energy at the ballot box and more energy on YouTube conspiracy videos. But apathy is a luxury we can’t afford – what happens in the corridors of power affects us and our families.
The other option is to try to ingratiate ourselves with the mainstream parties, but Baroness Warsi’s experience shows that when an institution is against you, you have no chance. Similar attacks have been launched on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, even after she apologised for past comments. And London Mayor Sadiq Khan was called a terrorist sympathiser, despite his campaign receiving the largest individual mandate in Europe.
These well-meaning, amazingly determined Muslim politicians have failed to change the system, because the political parties themselves were against them.
That’s why I believe that Muslims need to start their own political parties. We need a multicultural political movement that can stand up to the racist populists like The Brexit Party in the UK, or the AfD in Germany.
We need to make diversity a pillar of our politics – not just some convenient window dressing.
And most of all, we need to work together with everyone who wants to see a fairer, more united society. To do that, we need to think BIG.
Haluk Yildiz is the founder of BIG Party, who are running against the far-right AfD in this month’s European Parliament elections. Their election manifesto is here.
To support them, visit their LaunchGood campaign page.