Zarah Sultana wished she could tell young Muslim women she has had a positive experience since becoming an MP but admitted she could not.
A Labour MP burst into tears while making a speech as she recounted the torrent of Islamophobic abuse she has received since becoming an MP.
Zarah Sultana, MP for Coventry South, said she received messages calling her a “terrorist sympathiser” and “a cancer everywhere you go, and soon Europe will vomit you out”.
The 27 year old MP from the West Midlands made her emotive speech at a Westminster Hall debate on the definition of Islamophobia.
“Before being elected i was nervous about being a muslim woman in the public eye,” she said.
“Growing up, I had seen the abuse prominent British Muslims were subject to. I knew I wouldn’t be in for an easy ride.
“And when young girls ask me what it’s like, I’d like to say I was wrong to be worried. That they would face the same challenges as their non-muslim friends and colleagues. But in my short time in Parliament that’s not my experience.”
She added: “I have discovered that to be a Muslim woman, to be outspoken and left-wing, is to be subject this barrage of racism and hate.”
It’s to be treated by some as if I were an enemy of the country I was born in, as if I don’t belong.
And she did not stop short at criticising the Labour and Conservative party.
Ms Sultanah said the abuse would worsen when she called Tony Blair out for launching an “illegal war” and spoke out for those who were left behind in Afghanistan.
Sultana argued that “this Islamophobia doesn’t come from a vacuum. It’s not natural or ingrained. It’s taught from the top.”
She highlighted cases she had faced from Conservative MPs, including, she said, “when a far-right online account targeted me with racist abuse, suggesting that Muslims were an invading army, a Conservative MP replied not calling them for their racism, but by insulting me.”
She continued: “Islamophobia is very real in Britain today. That’s something I know all too well. But it cannot be defeated in isolation.
“The people spreading this hate don’t just target Muslims. They target Black people, they target Jewish people, they target Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, they target migrants and refugees.
“There is safety in solidarity, and it is only in uniting our struggles that we will defeat racism.”
Introducing the debate, Conservative Peterborough MP Paul Bristow said: “This cannot wait, in the absence of any action, the APPG definition has been adopted by scores of councils and the Scottish and Welsh governments are considering this.
“Frustration is building. A definition has the potential to be a tremendous force for good and I know the Government will recognise this. It is absolutely brilliant the Government reconciled this. It is the first step in a countrywide effort to stamp out this evil and improve outcomes for millions of people across this country.
“I cannot stand idly by and allow the children and the grandchildren of my constituents to face the same discrimination that their grandparents and their parents faced in their lives.”
Communities minister Eddie Hughes said: “We remain committed to there being a robust and effective definition and we will outline our steps to achieve this in due course.”