Islam, sectarianism and the General Election

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

If you were asked which was the sixth largest political party in the UK, bigger and more successful than the Green Party or Plaid Cymru, equal to the DUP and Reform, in which direction would your guess take you?

Plaid Cymru want greater representation for the Welsh in our shared Parliament, the Green Party want these islands cleaner and greener. The DUP are pursuing a particular political balancing act in Northern Ireland and Reform want to mend Conservatism throughout these islands.

But the five independent pro-Gaza MPs who were elected stood on a platform which demanded support for a genocidal struggle to remove the Jewish people from their historic homeland, and ensure the victory of the Palestinians in general and the terrorist group Hamas in particular.

What has this aim got to do with British domestic politics? Nothing. What has it got to do with the body politic in these islands? Very little. Instead it is the importing of a 1,500-year feud between the followers of Muhammad and the Jewish community who refused to accept his claims to be a legitimate prophet speaking on behalf of their God.

The dominant perspective behind an immigration policy that has driven the enormous increase in the practice of Islam in these islands has been a dogmatic multiculturalism driven hard by the Left.

The assumption was always that Islam would integrate with Western secular society - an exercise in wishful thinking produced by a certain mixture of hubris, ignorance and myopia that both underestimates and misunderstands what Islam is, and what it asks of its followers.

There was always going to be a moment when Islam broke the surface of the political pond and emerged in its own right. Until this election, it largely hid behind Labour as an element in its support base.

The most recent catalyst that produced the signs that Islam was going to emerge as a political entity in its own right was of course the slaughter by Hamas of over a thousand Israeli civilians on October 7, 2024. Muslims reacted with fury when Israel defended herself by pursuing Hamas in Gaza.

A regional conflict rooted in the Middle East found itself replicated and inserted into every community in the West where Muslims were to be found in significant numbers.

Initially what was described as sectarian violence spilled out onto the streets in the form of enormous demonstrations for Palestine and against Israel in a way that was fuelled by a highly sophisticated campaign of Palestinian propaganda which presented Muslims as the wounded, vulnerable victims of firstly Jews, and then secondly anyone who refused to join in the campaign to crush Israel in particular and Jews in general wherever they might be found.

There were grotesque moments such as when Muslim mobs in Russia's mostly Muslim region of Dagestan stormed the airport in Makhachkala in search of Jewish passengers arriving from Israel.

The outbreak of toxic antisemitism within the Labour party presented the Labour Party with a difficulty it could not find a solution to. The Labor movement found itself caught between two victim narratives and would inevitably fall short in the face of Islamic calls for Jewish genocide.

Frustrated with what from an Islamic viewpoint was the inadequacy of the Labour leadership's response, the fury against Israel broke through formally into political sectarianism at the General Election this month when Islamic independents stood against Labour candidates in a trial of strength.

Labour lost four seats outright to pro-Palestinian independent candidates in constituencies with a large Muslim presence. In Blackburn, the constituency once held by former home secretary Jack Straw, Labour's Kate Hollern lost by 132 votes to the independent Adnan Hussain.

In Dewsbury and Batley, Heather Iqbal, a former adviser to the new chancellor, Rachel Reeves, lost by nearly 7,000 votes to Iqbal Mohamed.

In Birmingham Perry Barr, the former Labour MP Khalid Mahmood lost to the independent Ayoub Khan.

In Birmingham Hodge Hill, the former cabinet minister Liam Byrne won by just over 1,500 votes over James Giles, the candidate for George Galloway's Workers Party of Britain.

Shadow cabinet minister Jonathan Ashworth was one of the four to lose his seat for Leicester South, an area where 35% of the population identify as Muslim. His seat was captured by an independent candidate Shockat Adam, running on a pro-Palestinian ticket, who won by 979 votes.

Celebrating his win, he claimed that his victory was an indication to those who had been in power so long that they had forgotten the people they were serving.

"This is for the people of Gaza," he claimed. This represented a radical new reconfiguration of British politics. Suddenly the people to be served were a conflation of local Muslims and the very much non-local people of Gaza.

It is clear now that the four seats that Labour lost to pro-Palestinian independents are just the latest, and most dramatic, expression of Muslim political power, growing in proportion with the overall Muslim population.

The realisation that the mayors of London, Oldham, Luton, Oxford, and Blackburn are all Muslims provides a stark reminder of the spread of the influence of Islam on local politics as well as the national platform that has been secured.

Muslims are now able in those areas where they constitute more than a third of the population — they need not be a majority, for Muslims vote as a bloc — to elect those who will demand that the government adopt anti-Israel policies.

Shaista Aziz, a former Labour councillor commented in an article she wrote for Al Jazeera: "The pro-Palestine left made a significant impact on this election. But the fight is far from over. Now that the Tories are out, and Labour is in power, this non-homogenous group needs to unite further, and develop new strategies to pressure the new government to take meaningful action on issues that matter to them, starting with the war in Gaza."

This is a rallying cry to the new Islamic MPs at Westminster to use the democratic machinery of the UK government to pursue Islamic agendas.

I remember the profound shock and surprise I felt when a highly respected academic colleague told me that the overt aim of the Muslim community in the UK was to take advantage of the combined factors of mass immigration, a higher birth rate, and an Islamic block vote in elections to ensure that the combination of demography and democracy would reshape British politics to reflect Islamic political, religious and cultural ambitions over the coming decades of this century.

The next most significant threat that we face in our society is the government adopting a harsh and restrictive definition of Islamophobia, which it intends to legislate against. This will make it effectively impossible to discuss Islam in public.

It's just possible that Jess Phillips - having nearly lost her seat in Birmingham and experienced aggressive heckling at her acceptance speech after suffering profoundly disturbing levels of intimidation and aggression during her campaign - may change her mind about Labour policy on Islamophobia.

We face two problems. Firstly, the growing power and influence of Islamic sectarianism, but making it so much worse, the inability to use the 'I-' word in any public discussion.

Murders are described as 'terror' with no mention that they were done in the name of Islam. The importation of Palestinian rage against Israel is covered up with 'sectarian politics' instead of Islamic antisemitism. And, if the Government's plans to criminalise Islamophobia are carried through, self-censorship will become state censorship.

Knowing how to respond to this change in our political, social and religious landscape is going to be hard enough as it is. Being fined or sent to prison for talking about it will make things infinitely worse. Jess Phillips, over to you.