OPERATION ARAB VOTE
Dr Anthony McRoy
Many Arabs originate from countries where is little or no liberty. In many such states, and not only Iraq, the incumbent romps home each time with over 90% of the vote. Free speech is severely limited, and attempts at political mobilisation lead at best to imprisonment, possibly exile, or worse, execution. The ever-present Mukhabarat (Secret Police) watch to quell any opposition.
It is scarcely surprising that British Arabs are often
unsure how to use the rights of their UK citizenship in terms of voting.
Especially after some confrontation with the West, such as 9/11 or the Gulf War,
Arabs prefer to keep their heads down or think about ‘returning’ home if they
can. Yet it is precisely in Western states that the opportunity for ending the
oppression of the Arab world exists. Palestine was lost because, in the words of
US President Truman, he did not have ‘thousands of Arabs’ among his
constituents. The situation is very different now, with around 4 million
Arab-Americans and 500,00 British-Arabs. Their electoral activity if properly
mobilised could help restrain imperialist adventures. By doing so, they will
make their own position more secure. Western politicians are not going to upset
an organised voting lobby, as the pro-Israeli lobby has demonstrated in both
Britain and America.
How can this be done? By forming local electoral committees now in conjunction with NABA. Arab churches, mosques and community centres should invite candidates to pre-election meetings and grill them as to where they stand on issues of domestic anti-Arabism, the marginalisation of British-Arabs by the CRE, and by the parties themselves, and also about the plight of the Iraqi and Palestinian peoples. Candidates should be told that Arab electors will vote as a united community for which ever candidate can offer them the best deal – on issues like providing Arabs with community centres, increased political representation, better health provisions, a more Arab-friendly educational curriculum, noting the giant contributions of Arabs in history. ‘Operation Arab Vote’ could lead to the end of the community’s ‘invisibility’ and its emergence as a strong, influential body of voters, able to defend its interests as UK citizens, and aiding its suffering brothers and sisters in Palestine and Iraq.