| ||Yasmin Alibhai-Brown dissects the election results in her column in today’s Independent. |
Assessing the correlation between national sentiment and election outcomes Alibhai-Brown comments on the banishing of the BNP, the ethnic and gender make up of the new parliament and the country’s decision to punish Labour while denying the Tories a firm mandate to govern unilaterally. Not surprising she should take aim at her favourite bugbear, Muslims, in appraising the election of the three new female Muslim Labour MPs; Shabana Mahmood, Rushanara Ali and Yasmin Qureishi.
‘The number of black and Asian MPs went up from 14 to 27. Six Asian women were elected and three were Muslims. Rushanara Ali, whose parents are Bangladeshi immigrants, won in Bethnal Green and Bow, thus crushing the organised misogyny of many local Muslim men. Shabana Mahmood replaces Clare Short in Ladywood Birmingham. Both these women were local girls who got to Oxbridge. Barrister Yasmin Qureshi won in Bolton South-East, not an easy place. Here, reactionary Islam and social conservatism dominate and she must have had a hard time. Clever, ambitious, their hair flowing with defiance, these candidates have made history.’
Only Alibhai-Brown would reduce the achievements of these women in getting elected to a simple binary of enlightened Muslim women gaining over obscurantist Muslim men. As if the election of these Muslim women owed nothing to the support their campaigns have received from both Muslim men and women in their constituencies. Hustings organized by ENGAGE have been well attended by both men and women. Were she less occupied with peddling the usual stereotypes on gender relations in Islam, Alibhai-Brown might usefully find that the achievements of the three new Muslim female Labour MPs owes much to the efforts of local Muslims and others determined to support the candidate of their choice. Only in Alibhai-Brown’s analysis would the electoral outcome be reduced to something as superfluous as the uncovered heads of Muslim females.
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