Ali Fazel, 20-year-old Conservative activist and former local election candidate, explains why a breakthrough event that turned its back on party point-scoring to focus on engaging Shias in politics was so important.
“KSI Birmingham Jamaat, sponsored by the Mahmood Bhogadia Foundation, has hosted the first ever Politics Symposium for Shias in Local and National Government. The evening marked the start of a discussion our community needed to have for a very long time.
“Britain today, more than ever before, is highly politicised. In the past, there have been initiatives to encourage minority representation as a whole, but this was the first Shia-focused platform. There is no denying that Shias are underrepresented, be it in national or local politics and the way we begin to bridge that gap is by acknowledging that there is work that needs to be done.
All about consensus
“The very well-put together event saw political activists and councillors come together from across the political spectrum. It was clear from the start that this initiative was not about political point-scoring. It was not about what party one should vote for. It was not about whose manifesto was costed and whose wasn’t.
“Although we had the event against the backdrop of an upcoming election, the motives were clear: this was about consensus. The aim was to encourage, to motivate and to inspire fellow members of the community to pay attention and get involved.
“After a poignant talk from Sheikh Nuru outlining the religious significance of the event, and a thorough dissection of the need for this initiative by Br. Mahmood Bhogadia, we had a clip from Ahmed Versi, editor of Muslim news, who shared with us his wisdom on how Muslims can play a more dynamic role in the media.
“We then heard from our panellists. Sr. Maryam Asaria, a Labour activist and ardent Jeremy Corbyn supporter, Br, Mohammed Mahdi Karim, a centre-left activist and founder of MMK Public Speaking, and I delineated our inspirations into politics, our drivers and the obstacles we’ve had along the way.
Make Shia voices heard
“Although a few party-political soundbites made a rare appearance (as was to be expected), the general mood of the room was one of agreement and harmony. A shared ambition amongst all to do more to encourage Shias in our various communities to take that step in making their voices heard.
“What is so exciting is that this event on Saturday 23 November was just the start! There is so much more to be done, but we have set the foundations upon which we will now build.
“If you would like to get involved, please get in touch with me on 07582 764090. Your views are appreciated in moving this initiative forward and we pray for the blessings of the Almighty in our ambition to become a truly politically-engaged and represented community.”
To watch the event please use the following link
Ali is a PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) student at the University of Birmingham. He hopes to become the first Khoja Conservative MP. He joined his local Conservative Association in 2015 and was the youngest candidate in last year’s local elections in Birmingham, standing in the Balsall Heath ward.