Naz Shah: Donald Trump was welcome in Bradford
BRADFORD: Just over 3,500 of my constitutents have signed the e-petition on preventing Donald Trump’s state visit, which amounts to nearly 60 people out of every 1,000 registered voters in Bradford West. What we have seen in the past month has been chilling and many of us are asking where the slippery slope really leads. To take only one of the groups of people where he has sought to divide – those of the Muslim faith, not necessarily distinct to one country or another – his rhetoric has been so broad that I personally, as a Muslim, feel attacked and misrepresented. No doubt many of my constituents feel the same. We have to take every opportunity to show that his negativity and divisive messages will not divide us and, just as importantly, will not define us. British Muslims make an invaluable contribution to the whole of the UK in all forms and walks of life, from doctors to teachers and from business owners to professionals, adding immense cultural value as part of the rich fabric of modern British life. To allow Trump the space to deride and divide a group that plays such a huge role in our society would be a shame on us all. A 2013 report by the Muslim Council of Britain put an economic value on British Muslims’ contribution to the UK – an estimated £31bn-plus – and stated that as a group they have more than £20.5bn in spending power. In 2013 in London alone, 13,400 Muslim-owned businesses created more than 70,000 jobs. That is a glimpse of the real impact that Muslims have on this country and that is how Muslims should be portrayed, not in the fearful, racist, bigoted views of someone who has used fear to win votes. Last year, when we first debated a potential ban on Trump visiting the UK, I went on public record to say that I wanted him to come, because I wanted him to visit Bradford West. I invited him out for a curry and I wanted him to see the contribution that Muslims make to this country and to my constituency.
I wanted him to meet real Muslims, not the ones he has invented for his own ends. I wanted him to walk down the street and meet people such as Chief Superintendent Mabs Hussain, who was born in my constituency. I wanted to take him to schools such as Iqra Primary School to meet a Muslim headteacher. I wanted him to visit health professionals in places such as Sahara and Lister pharmacies, and to see Muslims on the frontline in our healthcare services. I also wanted Donald Trump to see some of the tremendous businesses in my constituency that are run by Muslims, providing jobs and growth, such as Lala’s, EnKahnz, MyLahore and many others. I wanted to show the world the cultural impact of Muslims in my constituency through events such as the amazing Bradford Literature Festival that is run by two extraordinary Muslim women, or the annual world curry festival organised by a Muslim man. But to do so now, now that he is President, would only reinforce and condone his actions and his divisive, racist and sexist messages. Sadly, that is what Donald Trump represents at this moment, which flies in the face of everything we stand for and everything we thought we shared. We cannot support what he is doing by offering him legitimacy. During the debate we have touched on double standards, but the difference in our conversation is that the British people are aware of the human rights violations or the misogyny in China, for example, when we have a state visit from its President. However, we do not look to China for its record, for its advice and support on human rights issues, or for how to treat women, but we do look to America.
We look to the United States of America, the leader of the free world, to support us in those shared values. The new President does not represent those shared values that belong to all of us. Even my children have seen the movies showing women throwing themselves on the cobbles outside this building to get the right to vote in this country, and we saw what happened with the civil rights movement. What do we actually contribute by allowing President Trump to continue using rhetoric that divides people and tells us that Muslims are the enemy within? As a Muslim MP, I am not an enemy of western democracy; I am part of western democracy. I fought really hard to be elected. I fought against bigotry, sexism and the patriarchy to earn my place in Parliament. By allowing Donald Trump a state visit and bringing out the china crockery and the red carpet, we endorse all those things that I fought hard against and say “Do you know what? It’s okay”. I give my heartfelt thanks to the millions of people who signed the petition and I really hope that we do not honour this President. Naz Shah is the Labour MP for Bradford West who spoke in a Parliamentary debate on Donald Trump’s state visit.