First Arab MP?

Tanjara has a nice overview of Arabs in the British political system (translated from al-Hayat), including Bassam Mahfouz who if he wins his seat in Ealing Central and Acton will become the first ever British Arab MP. Political affiliation varies, naturally, with Mahfouz standing as a Labour candidate but several Arabs working for the Conservatives and Lib Dems. Fatima Mourad, of Moroccan descent and standing for the Tories in Westminster, says she is proud to be a Conservative: ‘life for many of the poorest in Westminster North has got worse over the last 13 years of Labour Government’. Abdiwali Mohamud, a Somali standing for the Lib Dems in Kentish Town, says: ‘I am Somali, I am Arab, I am a Muslim – so I cannot be Labour, as I am against the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia’. The al-Hayat article is very much slanted towards Arab issues, with a focus on, for instance, Bassam Mahfouz’s stances on Palestine the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006. However it also recognises that the main concerns reflected by Britain’s Arab politicians are the same as for any others. As Mahfouz puts it: ‘When I speak to [Arab voters] about politics, it is often about the key issues at stake in the forthcoming election: securing the economic recovery, and supporting a good education and world-class national health system (NHS) for all, as well as tackling crime with more police on the streets.’

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