Old habits die hard — Somali Brits

Abdulfatah Ali
2 min readJul 25, 2022

In 2005, the out-going Prime Minister of the UK wrote in the Spectator that Islamophobia is a ‘natural reaction’ to Islam. More recently he likened Muslim women who wear the burqa to letterboxes and has since refused to give an apology. For many Muslims in the UK, it is abundantly clear that the Conservative Party tolerates Islamophobia and has been accused by Muslim leaders of bigotry for allowing such comments to go unchecked. The entrenched anti-Islamic rhetoric from the Conservative Party is enough to shoo many Muslim voters away into the lap of the Labour party.

Though it is clear as to why we DON’T vote right, it is not entirely clear as to why we continuously vote left.

Given the clear fundamental differences between left wing ideology and Islam, it isn’t clear as to why Somali Brits are fixated on voting left. Once we brush past the inclusive liberal language you find under the surface stark contradictions between the principles that underpin left wing ideologies and Islam/Somali culture. So why do we continue leaning left? I would argue, it is a result of our emotional reactionary behaviour to socio-political events over the past decade or so. The rise of EDL (English defence league) and the notoriety of individuals like Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson, to name a few. The frustrations we witnessed during the Brexit campaign and the clear dislike for immigrants from both sides of the political game left a sour taste in most Muslim communities.

What does the left offer the Somali community, aside from not being ‘right’?

It’s a question I’ve grappled with for a very long time, to no avail. Labour party in the UK, by in large have monopolised the Somali vote with successful ease. We’ve been fed a false dichotomy between Conservative and Labour and with that we’ve fell right into the mouse trap. Thus, without any perceived leverage we’ve accepted all that’s been thrown at us and then some. Consequently, paralysing the Somali community and stopping us from devising a well thought out plan based on principles and values to use as a tool for the betterment of our communities. Rather, we’ve become content with the semblance progress and fell in love with the word “representation” as though it would serve as a golden ticket for change.

How does the future look?

We as Somali/Muslim community in Britain understand the consequences of straying too far left as we’ve seen happen across the Atlantic. A tide of similar magnitude will sweep the Somali community in the UK as it did in the US. Unfortunately, most will be taken by the current as others remain silent for fear of condemnation.

On the next blog I’ll try discuss some potential solutions to the ever changing political landscape.