UK politicians look to woo Muslim voters with Eid messages

London’s first Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed Labour leader Keir Starmer to his home for Eid Al-Adha this weekend, in a video shared by on the party’s socials as the country gears up for a general election.

Starmer and Khan start the video with an embrace before speaking about Hajj visa quotas, Islamophobia, and the achievements of British Muslims in front of the camera.

Missing from the filmed conversation was Gaza, which has been the elephant in the room for Starmer over the past eight months, when the leader appeared to support Israel’s complete blockade on Gaza and failed to call for a ceasefire, leading to a rebellion within the party.

The Muslim vote has become a key issue following the success of independents in this year’s local elections, many due to anger over the stance of the UK’s two main parties over the Gaza war.

This has seen Labour put a pledge to recognise a Palestinian state as part of a peace process, despite the Israeli government’s refusal to embark on one, and finally back a ceasefire in Gaza, with at least 37,300 Palestinians now killed.

One winner in the backlash over Gaza has been George Galloway, who won the seat of Rochdale for the Workers Party of Britain, a constituency where around one-in-three voters is Muslim and crucial to his election.

Galloway has put Gaza at the centre of his party’s campaign, while the MP tapped into anger over the Iraq war and Israeli oppression of Palestinians in previous elections.

He posted several Eid messages during the Muslim holiday, one showing his children and Dutch wife in traditional Indonesian dress and another in Rusholme, the heart of Manchester’s British Asian community, where he wished viewers a happy Eid. He then told viewers not to vote Labour due to the party having “blood on [their] hands” over Gaza.

The area is represented by Muslim MP Affzal Khan, who stepped down from the Labour shadow cabinet to back a call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza following a party whip on the issue.

The UK general election will take place on 4 July and The New Arab will have all the latest news and analysis during the build-up to the vote.

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