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UK Arab community urged to engage in upcoming General Election

May 24, 2024 at 9:01 am

A British Union flag on top of the Victoria Tower, part of the Houses of Parliament in London, UK, on Thursday, May 23, 2024. [Bloomberg via Getty Images]

Britain’s Arab citizens are being urged to engage with the “critical and decisive” UK General Election which will be held on Thursday, 4 July. The intention, said the head of the Arab Voice Campaign, Adnan Hmidan, is to make sure that the Arab vote is “influential and a significant marker” in this election and beyond.

“The election is taking place at a time when the two major political parties in the UK have been supporting the genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza,” explained Hmidan. “They have provided unconditional support for the continued Zionist aggression on Gaza by failing to take bold and clear action to prevent it.”

The Arab community, with its natural extension in the Muslim community in Britain, has the ability to influence and determine the electoral outcome in many constituencies where Muslims, including Arabs, have significant population weight, he explained. “The minimum requirement from each of us is to use our vote wisely on election day, and not undervalue its importance.”

The community leader expressed his belief that if members of the Arab community fail to use their votes wisely, the beneficiaries will be the candidates most hostile to causes close to Arab hearts, especially Gaza.

“The biggest mistake we can make in dealing with elections is to ignore them, be indifferent to them, or underestimate their importance. Passivity in dealing with the ballot box in democratic systems leaves the field open for those who are against us and seek to accelerate laws that harm us and our just causes,” said Hmidan.

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While acknowledging that finding the ideal candidate may be both difficult and a thorny issue, he pointed out that on the matter of the Israeli genocide in Gaza, the picture is clear. “We can, for example, look for the lesser evil if no other option is available to us, but we must not facilitate the oppression of the Palestinians by helping those opposed to their cause.” There are, he pointed out, distinguished candidates in a number of constituencies who support and stand in solidarity with the Palestinians.

The Arab Voice Campaign was started in February to boost Arab engagement in elections. It includes more than 120 figures from across Britain working through an elected coordinating team of 12 people to encourage the Arab community to participate in the democratic process. It expects to endorse several candidates whose names will be announced before the election.

“We need to let candidates know that we will not forget what their parties have done in supporting the genocide in Gaza, and to support those who have stood by our side in the mass popular protests around the country calling for a ceasefire and an end to the Zionist occupation of Palestine,” said Hmidan. “If this means abstaining in some constituencies, then so be it, but along with the Muslim Voice and other similar campaigns we will work to make our voice heard and effective, one way or the other.”

Although there were just under 360,000 Arab citizens in Britain at the 2021 Census, they tend to be concentrated in sizeable clusters. In some constituencies, therefore, their vote could have a significant impact either way.