By Sikander Hayat
Impact of Brexit on British Pakistanis is going to be huge. There are sizeable Pakistani communities living in United Kingdom, Norway, Spain, Ireland and other Western European countries. What does the future hold for the cohesion of these communities. Would Brexit stop them from interacting, living and working. I guess this point is true for anyone living in Britain and the rest of EU but now that the third/fourth generation of Pakistanis are growing up, leaving now will be huge blow to their future prospects.
It is not out of the question that UK will suffer an economic loss if it leaves EU.
The most painful truth is that current debate in UK has moved away from economy to the toxic subject of immigration. Now immigration is at the front, right and centre of the Brexit debate and because of this toxic environment, MP Jo Cox was murdered by a right wing terrorist in the city of Leeds. That terrorist believed that Ms Cox was pro immigration and therefore a traitor to the British cause. Ms Cox paid with her life for standing up for the rights of human beings regardless of their colour or race and this act was too much for her killer. Leeds is a city in the north of England with a large Pakistani community and four terrorists who blew themselves up in London tube were from Leeds’s Pakistani community.
White working class in places like Leeds blame their economic woes on influx of immigrants. They do not want to consider the greater forces of globalization at work as for them immigrants are the living embodiment of their pain and suffering. For white working class it does not matter if Pakistanis they resent are third/fourth generation UK nationals.
British Pakistanis have an added problem of being Muslims as current global perspective is that most if not all Muslims are either terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.Global events like San Bernadino shootings and killing of 49 people in a gay bar in orlando by a deranged psychopath Omar Mateen feed this narrative. Although the jury is still out on Omar Mateen who was homosexual himself (his former wife has given an interview confirming that they split up because Omar Mateen was gay and a frequent visitor to the gay bar where he carried out this massacre).
This perception that Muslims are terrorists is wholly incorrect as 99.99% are hard working people with Britain as their only home and this is where they will end their lives.
Brexit debate is causing huge rifts among the majority and minority ethnic groups in UK and even if Britain choses to remain in the EU, the scars left by this toxic debate will take a long time to heal.