‘We’re not scary brown people!’ Streatham Labour councillor urges Muslims to embrace integration

Streatham Wells’ Labour councillor called on fellow members of the Muslim community to integrate more in order to dispel the idea they were ‘scary brown people’.

Mohammed Seedat spoke at a general elections hustings at Hyderi Islamic Centre last week where issues such as affordable housing, the green economy and a progressive wealth tax were discussed.

He explained that since 9/11 members of the Islamic community had been demonised by some corners of society.

Mr Seedat said: “I’m a guy called Mohammed, I’m always scared if I send my CV out if it’s going to end up in a dustbin or not.

“Since 9/11 Muslims have been under attack in the newspapers day in, day out.

“As a Muslim community we need to reach out more and show people we’re not scary brown people – we’re just normal everyday people who live in London and want to get on with our lives.”

Streatham Green Party parliamentary candidate Jonathan Bartley agreed with Mr Seedat but went on to demand that a new law to tackle ‘demonisation and scapegoating’ of the Muslim community was needed.

Mr Bartley said: “I think we need a new law to tackle Islamophobia as it is clearly a hate crime.

“I think we also need to tackle very strongly the negative perceptions in the media as it’s clear that there is institutional Islamophobia in some of the media industry – clearly there is scapegoating and demonisation that goes on.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Amna Ahmad highlighted a ‘horrific’ surge in hate crimes against Muslims.

Metropolitan Police crime figures reveal a 27.6% increase in crimes against Muslims from the year ending March 2014 to the year ending March 2015, up from 577 to 736 cases.

Ms Ahmad said: “Islamophobia has become much worse – they are horrific figures.

“In the post-Leveson age we need to look at how the media reports. It’s not only about Islamophobia specifically – it’s about Britain seeming to become a more intolerant society.

“We should be pulling together and making sure we have a stronger economy.”

Conservative candidate Kim Caddy urged more Muslims to join the police to make the force more ‘representative’.

She said: “I want to encourage Muslims to get involved in becoming councillors and  representing their communities themselves.

“I think we need to have a police force that is more representative, so I would encourage Muslims to join the police force.”

Unjum Mirza, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition candidate, blasted Channel 4 News reporter Cathy Newman for claiming she had been ‘ushered out’of Streatham’s South London Islamic Centre in February.

He also accused the three main parties of facilitating the growth of Al-Qaeda and ISIS with their Middle East policies.

He said: “They have created the conditions for Al-Qaeda and ISIS – they are responsible.

“Islamophobia is a huge threat to all of us.”

Labour parliamentary candidate Chuka Umunna, who visited the centre two weeks ago, was unable to attend due to prior commitments.

Picture courtesy of sarflondondunc, with thanks

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