Channel: Haitham al-Haddad
Bismillah Alhamdulillah wa salatu salam ala rasulillah
salam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato. Dear brothers and sisters and friends.
My name is Solomon but and it's my pleasure to introduce and host this panel discussion this evening on the London mayoral elections coming this week.
This discussion is organized by Serbian and assumptions fluency. And you can get involved in this discussion right from the beginning by going to Islam conferences, Twitter page, or just hash tagging. Hashtag Muslim, but it's my pleasure to introduce our
panel of esteemed guests here tonight. Tomorrow, I have chef Dr. Heckman condemned from the Islamic Council of Europe, we have as many from ment and he is the head of community development admin, which stands for Muslim engagement. And finally, we have
the committee who is the CEO and founder of the foundation.
We'll start off just by myself putting a few simple questions to each panelists. And then jumping right into your conversation, your discussions from using the Twitter
handle at assumption from CNN hashtag again, hashtag Muslim vote. You can also get involved in discussion by writing a comment under the YouTube video and indeed on the post.
So we start with Jefferson.
You've spoken for many years about the importance of participation? No doubt, the majority of people watching at home today will have some familiarity with your view regards to political participation and voting. But Matt, just put this brief question to you just to stimulate the discussion from
should mostly be thinking
internally when they approach these discussions in terms of their relationship with Allah in terms of their press.
Rahim, Al hamdu Lillah wa salatu salam ala rasulillah. While this is a good question, to be honest with you, we should look at ourselves that we are a great Omen that Allah Allah, Allah impart does and Allah Allah Allah entrusted us with the heavy trust with a heavy responsibility. All of us know that I that is always frequently quoted when Allah Allah Allah says, quantum higher metal, aka digitally NASA madrona will now do what I know Nanaimo Getty, which will mean winner Amina Bella, I think this is summarizes a lot. You are the best nation ever raised to mankind not just because of your color because of your ethnicity because of your bag Allah ground No, no, no. The reason was
mentioned after that you enjoy the good for with the evil and believing in Allah, Allah Allah. So we should look at ourselves as individuals or as a community as part of this great Ummah and we have a greater responsibility towards that we have a vision to look for, and that is to enjoin the good forbid the evil and believe in Allah, Allah, Allah. Now, Muslims should be smart enough to take any possible opportunity, any legal opportunity to further that cause which is enjoying the good forbidding the evil and believing in Allah, Allah Allah. Now, in certain circumstances, maybe, yeah, we are not afraid to say that in certain circumstances, jihad is that way. But in many other
circumstances, there are different ways of furthering the economic causes.
Those ways, yeah, as I, as I said, Islam is a very flexible religion. So each each context has its own ways of furthering the Islamic cause. This is one thing. The other thing is, we need to remember that once we talk about the Islamic cause,
any Islamic cause helps others. It is not because of us. No, it is enjoying the good in order to let other people benefit from it. forbidding the evil because the evil it is affecting all of us. And as I always say, once I challenged in fact, a journalist, I said tell me about one thing that Islam called for, and it is harmful for people.
Yeah, Islam wants people to work.
Step one God. This helps them to understand the purpose of their existence. Islam calls people not to drink alcohol, Islam calls people not to fornicator Islam calls people to to keep the marriage intact. Islam calls people to be honest, Islam calls people to call for justice. Of course, we can mention the yard and the Hadith that talked about this. But the my main point is, we as Muslims should be engaged in a changing the society, the environment that we live in the context we live in to the betterment for all of us. So that should be the starting point. When we talk about political participation, or the coming upcoming mayoral election that we should look for something that will
benefit us will benefit all of us.
Just to get us all on the same page, and introduce in terms of what we're actually talking about, can you just remind us what is actually happening in this election,
cycle 100, later, biloela, Minnesota to a Salaam Alaikum, salaam, Seville karimabad, just as an intro, so as you mentioned, meant Muslim engagement and development, just want to kind of clarify, as an organization, we're not at our organization, we're not necessarily an Islamic or Muslim organization. In that sense, our sole purpose is to primarily with the Muslim community, empower them to become active citizens. The way we see, majority, vast majority of the Muslims in this country see this as their country. This is where they were born. And this is where they're going to remain. And what we want them to do is play a positive, proactive role in every aspect of society.
And what we've analyzed is that in media and politics, Muslims are perhaps the least active, and if they are active than not active in a in a way that is bringing about positive results, if you like.
We're not proportionate represented, but we're not proportionately engaged either. So I think, you know, you can say one, but we have to follow it with some effort. In terms of the elections on Thursday, fifth of May, you have six major elections actually taking place across the country. So you have the Scottish Parliament election, you have the Welsh Assembly election, then you have the local council elections, most places out of London, then you have, which is two elections in London, the mayor election and the London Assembly elections. And then you have a very important election, which a lot of people don't know about, which is the Police and Crime Commissioner elections. So as
an organization, and I'm going to shamelessly plug our website, if those people that are online and others that watch it later, if you go to get out and vote dot info, the website, all of these elections are covered and all the details are there. So in terms of, you know, what are we talking about? Now? We're going to be talking about London. But I'd also like to in the discussions because I'm sure people are tuning in or watching online from across the country. They want to talk about the police Crime Commissioner elections as well as they are important.
London assembly. Yeah.
Welsh Assembly, local council, Scottish Parliament. Yeah.
If we bring it back to London.
While we have this discussion, why is it important?
hamdu Lillah wa salatu salam ala rasulillah. Thank you very much.
It's always a pleasure sharing platforms with you. I would like to second what associative and started off doing and that is,
we have as a community we have moved on in terms of our understanding, and the kind of debate that we're having. I recall, and I'm pretty sure that we all here. Recall the days when we used to approach any kind of political participation with a lot of hesitancy, trepidation, there was a lot of, you know, Fatah was hanging over our heads and whether it was hard or hard on and I'm pleased that shfm amongst many, many others of knowledge have actually dispelled the problems that surround this and now we as Muslims can claim our rightful place within the society and the rightful place and I think that much has been said about the obligations of how we developed our we devote
ourselves to Allah subhana wa Tada. And amongst that activity,
devotion to Allah is the engagement and indulgent in the action of reform of Islam. In Islam as the last one I told you,
and, and therefore from from that point of view from that perspective, on Thursday, we will have all those elections across the country, but to speak about London specifically,
just to highlight why it is important that we have this discussion.
We are talking about, arguably the most important capital in the world,
a capital of immense political importance, immense economic importance, immense, it's it signifies,
you know, the West in a way, the attitudes, the cultures, the lifestyle, they are the trends, towards, you know, the big issues that we as Muslims and we as human beings are concerned with. So London is extremely important. From that point of view, London is one of the most populated capitals in the world. During the day, we have reportedly around 11 to 12 million people, the people who live within London and who will vote are estimated just around 8 million. Amongst them are almost 1 million Muslims.
And the mayor elections particularly and the London General Assembly, elections, going to bring in the new administration for the next term,
who will be in charge of, you know, the major issues to do with people's daily lives with housing, transportation, crime prevention, policing, and so many other things that that make this election incredibly important for us as Muslims, yes, but also as long as as citizens of this country, and for the betterment, you know, hopefully of London. So that is why we're having this discussion.
ask you something.
And the last few days and in the Greeks have been following discussions,
colleagues, my friends,
I've been getting quite a few mixed messages in terms of how important it is, I mean, honestly described upon London is the capital, you know, a lot of those hesitation praising London being raised in London.
But how much power does the mayor actually wield? Well, to put it in context, what brother Anna's just mentioned, after the Prime Minister, the most powerful man in the country is the London mayor.
So that should give you some context, it means in terms of economy, in terms of actually making change in terms of like, unless mentioned housing, we have one of the biggest housing crisis at the moment going on in London. Okay. Now, it is affecting a lot of communities, but it's having an acute effect on the Muslim community, because by, by and large, most Muslim families are three to five kids. Yeah, so there's about five to seven adults. And and it's problematic, because most of the new build that is taking place is one or two bedroom, which is not sufficient. So this is something Amir will have a saying that, you know, the boroughs in London, the housings they built, that he can, or
she can, you know, dictate almost what kind of housing takes place. And that's important. And if you look at employment as well, because this is a very important area, London, is also a leading service provider across the world. You know, the City of London provides an a market locally here, Canary Wharf, it provides some of the best services across the world now to keep that momentum to keep that investment coming in, and also the expertise going out. You need a mayor who understands all of this stuff, and the mayor will have a say in all of this. So all of these things are important, but I just want to kind of touch upon, you know, something that's really important. Some people, you know,
they don't understand the importance of something until he affects them personally. And I think, you know, as an organization, we also deal with Islamophobia, for example, and, you know, we talk about Islamophobia in many places across the country, and I can see sometimes in the audience, and sometimes people do ask, you know, is it really that bad? Islamophobia is not really that bad, you know, I've never been attacked or anything else. But, you know, then when you speak to actually a person, and usually sisters that are being verbally abused, or worse, yeah, physically, you know, when you speak to them, and you see the trauma that it causes. And and then you have that
realization and politics, unfortunately, is like that. So this is one of the things that we're trying to do is we are reaching out to the Muslim community, we hold training courses on politics so that people understand actually the power and I just give you one legislation which the Muslim community was
was very late to engage with which was the same sex marriage. Now, this is something everyone in the Muslim community wants to have a say on, but didn't know how to engage it. Because we don't understand how our parliamentary system works. We don't understand how legislation works. We don't understand how lobbying works. And these are very important factors. And I don't really want to reduce participation in the in the democratic systems of voting, because voting is just one aspect which you're going to do on Thursday. But there's a lot of work to do for four years, five years after that.
As for the functions of the mayor's office,
a, say in the economy, and
I've seen people make the argument that their hands are tied because of the system. They can't really make any significant changes.
This situation just quickly. Yes, ma'am. Because I'm going to forget my point. I'm sorry. Sure. It's just very quickly, because you know, this is the same argument used for many things, but if I just go back to the Police and Crime Commissioner, okay, now, when this role came, this is a person this is one man who actually oversees the budget of a Constabulary. Yeah, so let's take West Midlands Police Force. Okay, there's one man at the moment, it could be a woman who is in charge of that police force, he or she oversees their budget, he or she actually appoints the Chief Constable in there. He or she actually writes a crime plan, which prioritizes which crimes to tackle which crimes
to give priority to. Now, if that's not a powerful person who's a powerful person, okay, the home office, the Home Secretary does not have that much power over the police as this one individual does. Now, this is the power already invested in the Mayor of London. Okay, and because of the Metropolitan Police, which is the biggest police force in the country, and perhaps the world, okay, now, after that, he or she has all of the other powers. So people say you know, the system, know that there's a system, there's a process of getting getting things done. Okay. So if you look at the last, if it let's look at the first mayor of London, who was Ken Livingstone, what was he What did
he introduced to London that we actually read in the benefits of cycling? Yeah, this free cycling, he introduced. And now if you look at in terms of greener, healthier kind of way of life, we have cycle lines in London. Now, when that Mayor initiated that process, he that idea, he had to go through a process, and that's the system. So I think people conflate, you know, that your hands are tired, and you have to go through a process and they won't let you do it. It's a bit conspiratorial in my in my in my mind, I think, you know, people just don't understand how it works the process. So I should say this is what he wanted to say, you know, you mentioned the point that the metal
Yeah, is the second most powerful position of the the Prime Minister. Is that any kind of facts to substantiate that because he doesn't have a legislative power? He doesn't have I'm just playing the roles of show not.
That actually Well, I mean, there are several indications as to why that might and I agree with as I've in that particular statement, first of all, he has a budget, and virtually no other policymaking position has the size of the budget of the Mayor of London commands. The other thing is that the mayor actually employs 10s of 1000s of people. I mean, if you're looking at across the transport system and transport network in London, the policing network, the, you know, everything the the staff and within city hall itself, it's a huge operation. And therefore 10s of 1000s of people will be will be, you know, under the command and under the employment of this particular
mayor. So on an executive though, it is absolutely true. Yeah, I'd like to once again, touch on what as that's, and I think this is absolutely important. We unfortunately, come and I, you know, I totally congratulate sebelah and 21 C for holding this, this particular webinar, but but I, you know, it's very, very important that we push that and we press the point, that if we are to become truly citizens of the country, whereby we demand our full rights, whereby, you know, we can with with full confidence, fight the scourge that is racism, discrimination, Islamophobia, and all the you know, the discriminatory disease of this society has. It's a must, that our engagement with
politics is a daily issue. Yes. On a daily basis. Yeah. With that, when we come to the time of voting, it will be a natural process. Exactly. And it'll be much much easier for those of us who I'm pretty sure are now tweeting and messaging say, well, Who should we vote for? It will be much, much easier for people then to decipher what the criteria is to, you know, to selecting who who to vote.
This is the past few weeks of campaigning, this is what has been
noticed, in terms of the actual function of
seeing is a, just a bachelor personalities between two, unfortunately.
Although it's important if the person is
found passing, anyone talking about the differences between the two in terms of the actual policy,
then I want to say that well see, we should not blame people as we should blame ourselves or the leaders and to be honest with you, other than men, and maybe, quote Obama knows, even even mseb, even mseb. Yes, they cannot maybe promote one particular party or one particular individual, but they should have run campaigns to encourage people to vote, and to explain to them because there are many people who are,
you know, to be honest with you, I recently came to know that well, when the pellets came, and I started to read and my children started to ask me, yes, because I know about the General
Assembly, and the male, but the the the police and others, I didn't know much about them. So I started to read. Yeah. So if there are no campaigns to inform our community is still they will come to maybe they will come at the last minute, whom we should vote for. Yeah. Maybe now Alhamdulillah, the Muslim community, we should not be very negative. They are much concerned mainly about the mayoral election. But I think, yeah, I think what happened with the mirror election is he became
Islamophobic, if I'm honest. And the campaign itself turned into something about Muslims, who's an extremist, who's this, all of that kind of stuff. And that's why it's in the minds of most Muslims. And that's the honest truth. But I think you're right, we have not done enough. I mean, we we, we don't just do our work during the election time. You know, we've already this year held over 30 courses across the country. And, you know, we are more and more people are learning, but it takes time, but more importantly, it takes a collective effort. So like, that's why I agree with brother and master, you know, what we're doing here today, this is this is very new. And, and I'd like to
see, like people that are closer, all of these other institutions who teach religion, as well to add this element. And, you know, just a couple of things we should have. Yeah, yeah. The and this is we've we've actually given a lot of massages, and hooked up the actual hotbar itself on participation on why, you know, islamically researched, but, you know, the problem that we're facing the most is a lot of us want a shortcut to everything. Okay. And, and, and, and, you know, there'll be a lot of Muslims will just say, just tell me who to vote for.
And, you know, this is this is a short termism is problematic in my, in my view, because we got to understand the process. We got to like, I would say, as a community, the Muslim community is politically politically not mature. Our politics are not mature politics yet. And and, and, you know, but that doesn't give me You know, it doesn't make me sad or anything, it gives me hope. We're a very young community. Yeah, only around 80 years in this country. Okay. Other community has been here for hundreds of years. Now, what we're trying to do here, as men is move the discussion away from personalities, away from what the media would like to dictate to us to actually matters that,
you know, for, for us to take on board. So you've got the local council elections, as a local resident, if I realize the discussion is that one party, if they get into power, they're going to collect the bin, you know, once every two weeks, and if the other party comes into power, that are collected once every week, that's something that actually is gonna bother me, because I know what's going to happen as a consequence, if they don't collect the bins every week. So you got to kind of break the kind of politics down. And the second thing we're challenging and this is really important for everyone to understand is, unfortunately, we're living in a time now where the tail wags the
dog. What do I mean by that? politicians and media set the agenda for what we as citizens want, okay? It is the other way around. we as citizens empower and, and kind of enable our representatives to do the job for us on what we think is important, not what they what they think is important. And this is a cycle we have to break out. And that's why short termism isn't going to be the answer.
And we have to play the long term game on this, if I may.
Yeah, maybe another point. See,
we're on top of what, as Ed mentioned, is that and maybe that brings us to the heart of the discussion or the debate about how to vote for the coming election rather than to make the discussion. So huge, which is, many Muslims are not convinced that they can make a difference.
Yeah, see, this is a problem whether, you know, after the offsetting of mercy in Egypt, or even on a local level, many Muslims becoming more distant from political participation, because they see that show me a model where it is working. And here, for example, in England, in our country, or even in other European countries, they haven't seen a model where the Muslim vote does make a difference. What a difference in worship, what what do they say difference in what sense that is what needs to be addressed? In order to be Because see, for many Muslims, you know, you said you shot What is it short term is a short termism? Yeah. There is also a short psychism. Well, they think that, well, in
order to make a change, just your vote, you will see things changing on the immediately. Exactly, exactly. And it doesn't work like this, it changed some hands a lot in life, it doesn't work like this. So they have also to understand this, that it is a long term process. Can I can I just also say I mean, the question that as I've tried to try to ask you was you were making a comment, I think is quite important. And that is what kind of change are we looking for. And that is quite important. Because when you speak to different people,
you know, a lot of what we speak about our dreams and aspirations. And by the way, by the way, it's very interesting, because we've conducted several surveys in the past few years, amongst Christian communities, you know, students, for instance, and professionals and housekeepers, and, and the such, and we found that invariably, invariably, whilst there might be one or two things that pertain specifically to the Muslim community, generally speaking, the aspirations of Muslims are quite similar to the aspirations of God. Yeah, because essentially, what what they want is a better life. Yeah, they have to be safe, they want to be secure, they want to be clean, they have their schools
to be good. Housing is a big issue for all Muslims.
So in a sense, the change that we want to create isn't exclusive to me or to my family, or to my community, to my mosque. Yeah, it's something which pertains to the entire society. And I, I need to play my role in pushing for that to come. But I need to be part of the discussion. And this is the importance, and that's why what she just said, I think is very important regarding mosques getting involved into registration. I mean, one of the one of the suggestions that, that I presented to a couple of mosques A number of years ago, and one or two of them adopted this, and that is that you know how, after every
there's a bucket that goes around with several bucket buckets that go around. And then there's, you know, the the deaths, for instance, who passed away who was the only means do this? Why don't you add a line saying and by the way, those who haven't voted to register, there's no anything outside of things. Regardless of whether there's an election around the corner or not. It's just something that we need to habit it needs to become part of our culture. I think that's the key point it needs to become part of our culture.