COMMENT: Dear Leave Voters
Dear Leave Voters
Firstly, cards on the table. I voted Remain.
Presumably for the same reasons you voted Leave. Because I believed - and still believe - that my decision was in the best interests of the country. We clearly differ on this issue.
I also happen to be a Muslim. And in a weird way, we might have more in common than you think. I mean, for all I know, you're Muslim too, so there's that. But even if you're not.
That's because we are often tarnished with the same brush as people who claim to believe in the same thing we do. But they don't. They use it for hateful reasons, and sadly that's reflected on us.
Normal Muslims like me are often branded 'fundamentalists' or 'terrorists', because some people use our religion to spread hate.
Normal Leave voters like you are often branded 'racist' and 'xenophobic', because some people use your political views to spread hate.
Now I know what you're probably thinking. Whoa there, Nelly. Being a bit racist is one thing (even though you personally are not), but it's quite different from beardy fellas blowing themselves up. That may be true, but we have no choice in what we're accused of.
It's shit, isn't it? For people to assume you're a horrible dickhead even though you're not? Infuriating in fact. You're a good decent person, living a normal happy life, and you're called all sorts.
As Muslims, we often find ourselves having to make clear that we think killing people is wrong. It's annoying because it should be obvious. Why should we have to answer for something that's not our fault?
But every so often we do. We go on Twitter or Facebook and say it's horrible and wrong. And we go on huge marches to say it's wrong that way too. But still people demand that we should do something about it and speak out, even though we have.
On Thursday afternoon, the official Twitter account for the Leave campaign tweeted this:
Is it any wonder that Labour can't be bothered to deal with the disgusting antisemitism in their party when they are so reliant on the votes of Britain's exploding Muslim population? It's a question of maths for these people, not justice!
Support us at https://t.co/ntwXbJeHQw pic.twitter.com/klQoCIzxYF
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) March 29, 2018
Basically suggesting that all Muslims in the UK hate Jewish people and will therefore vote for any political party that is antisemitic. It is a horrible thing to claim, I'm sure you'll agree.
They are using one hateful prejudice (Islamophobia) to supposedly speak out against another hateful prejudice (antisemitism). It's vile and horrible and hurtful and false.
Forget the fact that they have purposely and grossly inflated the number of voting Muslims in the country to back their 'population explosion' myth. The whole sentiment is a wicked lie.
Now, the reason I bring this up is because I am sure that you are just as disgusted as I am.
Not only because they are spreading hate against innocent Muslims, and using the very real and sensitive issue of antisemitism to promote their hateful agenda, but because some people will unfairly assume they speak for you.
As someone who is used to people blaming me for something that isn't my fault and absolutely doesn't reflect my views, here's a few suggestions:
- If you follow Leave.EU, donate to Leave.EU, or indeed are a member of Leave.EU, immediately withdraw your support and unfollow. So that you have no connection to such a hateful organisation;
- Inform Leave.EU that you are disgusted by the sentiments, and demand that they withdraw their statement;
- Report them to Twitter, the medium on which they posted their hateful message;
- Report them to the police, so that the authorities can investigate whether they are inciting hatred.
You could go even further. You could also make clear to everyone that Leave.EU don't speak for you, and that their hateful message is not in your name. You could do this on Twitter or Facebook or shout it from the rooftops.
I know, I know. I know it's ridiculous that you should have to do that, but from personal experience, if you don't, you will be accused of sharing those very same Islamophobic views.
Here's the absolute kicker though - even if you do that, even if you make it as clear as you can that you don't agree with what Leave.EU are saying, some people still won't believe you. Because they don't want to believe you.
But you'll know. And Leave.EU will know. And if in the future, some detestable group shares lies about you on social media - claiming that you hate Muslims - you can proudly state that you did everything you could to say no - not in your name.