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Is Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s elevation dividing British Muslims? 

File photo of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Photo: Rishi Sunak/Twitter)

Rishi Sunak’s rise to the top in British politics has come with its share of ‘shock and awe’.

Sunak became the prime minister of the UK within a month of serious unrest in Leicester—a city of three lakh people known for its inter-community harmony, well, until now. The Muslim-Hindu unrest in a tranquil city ruffled Royal feathers besides creating news across the world. A number of independent inquiries are in the offing over the communal clashes.

Jubilant reactions among Hindus have been documented in detail by the media not just in the UK and India but across the world. Among British Muslims, while some notable personalities have voiced their support for Sunak, influential sections—some with connections with the Left and the Labour Party—have focused on the Prime Minister’s riches, his so-called pronounced Hinduism, his Tory thought as well as foreign policy disposition towards Palestine and India.

A past interview by Sunak on “grooming gangs”—wherein predominantly Pakistani men have been charged, has been dug out. Sunak is seen promising action on a sensitive race issue which has been buried in the UK due to ‘political correctness’ despite its acute criminality.

Even as Sunak remains under microscopic scrutiny, a Muslim organisation has been running a campaign against him. The Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK) posted a series of tweets between October 24 to 26 – all criticising Sunak. It began on October 24 by saying: “Sunak doesn’t have the support of his own Party’s membership, nor most of his colleagues in Parliament, and definitely not of the country. MPACUK demands a General Election NOW!”

By October 25 MPACUK said: “Here’s our reasons for why the Muslim community should be dissatisfied with Sunak as PM” and released a video on why Rishi Sunak is bad news for Muslims”. The committee is also rallying the Muslims to be prepared for elections as it feels general elections in the UK are round the corner.

A day later the MPACUK released another video saying why Rishi Sunak is “bad news” as Prime Minister of the UK. Among the issues it lists, which it thinks makes Sunak ‘bad news for Muslims’ are his Conservative Party thinking, support to Israel, his wife’s ownership of Infosys and that “Rishi Sunak is not the best for Britain let alone for the Muslims here…”

Despite the MPACUK’s strident anti-Sunak campaign, some constituents have voiced support for Sunak. Foremost among them is writer and commentator Wasiq Wasiq who has been battling the anti-Sunak sentiment on social media. He was among the few to have clapped his approval for Sunak even before the Indian-origin leader took on the mantle as the Prime Minister.

Another Muslim figure, researcher and culture writer, Dr Rakib Ehsan has come to Sunak’s defence many a times.

Ehsan has taken a swipe at the powerful Left-Liberal combine for vilifying Sunak’s elitism and wealthy background. He has also stood his ground over communal attacks on Sunak and defended his policies.

That Sunak is a practicing Hindu and has been photographed with cows also led to a social media kerfuffle.

Well known Pakistani writer-in-exile, Ayesha Siddiqa alluded to his Hindu roots while making a confusing comment on his ties with India. Siddiqa said: “He recently went to a cow temple and other signs of support. But there will be pressure on him so not easy to deal with India…”

Siddiqa’s comment obviously drew sharp comments over the term “cow temple” after which she tried to decry Sunak as not only rich but Hindutva. “We are generally weary of owning our own Hindus unless it is to showcase liberalism so what to speak of Richie Sunak who is not just Tory but Hindutva”.

Sunak’s elevation has caused more than a flutter among the Muslims in Britain.

Large sections are keeping quiet over the UK’s youngest and first Hindu Prime Minister. Many others are watching his policies from an Islamic point of view while some have already announced that a Hindu Prime Minister is just not going to be right for the Muslims.

With inter-faith relations under strain after the Leicester violence, the Palestinian issue always on a boil, grooming gang convictions of Pakistani men that keep popping up frequently and a vocal-visible minority Muslim population with assimilation issues, Sunak will have to tread with caution.

Also Read: British Indians, Nepalese ecstatic as Rishi Sunak rises to the top in the UK 

Rishi Sunak vows to bring unity and tackle rising economic challenges