Sayeeda Warsi

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God Save the Queen?
Warsi is risking setting off a reaction against this Conservative Party that she will regret. She might actually be damaging them by trying to force religion on to people who quite clearly do not want it.
—Terry Sanderson, president of the UK National Secular Society[1]

Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, Baroness Warsi is a British Conservative politician. She is the first female Muslim minister in the UK.


[edit] Tokenism

Ratna Lachman, director of Just West Yorkshire[2] claims the UK Conservative Party leadership style is WASPish (white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant) and male but Warsi gives a semblance of multicultural femininity. Furthermore Warsi is from the North of England rather than the more privileged South. Sayeeda Warsi is unelected, she got a seat in the house of Lords and the Cabinet without parliamentary experience.

Further Warsi was active in helping to develop policies on counter-terrorism but failed to prevent erosion of minority rights.[3]

[edit] U-turn

In 2005 Warsi's campaign issued leaflets condemning Labour for allowing homosexuality to be "promoted" to school children, equalising the age of consent for homosexuals and heterosexuals, and for promoting gay marriage. She later did an about-face and began promoting civil partnerships herself.[4]

[edit] Religious headscratchers

Somehow Warsi claims that there is a "proper" (however defined) place for religion in public, that strengthened religious identities "ensure social harmony":

So today I want to make one simple argument: That in order to ensure faith has a proper space in the public sphere, in order to encourage social harmony, people need to feel stronger in their religious identities, more confident in their beliefs. In practice, this means individuals not diluting their faith and nations not denying their religious heritage.

Is this reasonable? Intolerance leads to... well, disharmony.

  1. Some religious heritages encourage tolerance (most branches of Buddhism for example)
  2. Other religious heritages lead to intolerance (see Iran, Saudi Arabia, The Taliban among others).

Faith inevitably leads to the assumption, that whatever contradicts 'The Faith' is wrong and that can lead to intolerance.

Warsi wants the state to fund faith schools but shows no enthusiasm for state funded secular schools.

[edit] Secularism and theocracy

In February 2012, after secularists objected to an official visit from Benedict XVI,[6] Warsi railed against a perceived "militant" secularism taking hold of society. Citing religion being "sidelined and downgraded in the public sphere" and religious symbols being removed from public view, she compared this "militant" secularisation to totalitarian regimes.

Warsi is fighting to reduce secularism in the UK and Europe but she is swimming against a strong tide.[7] In late summer 2012 Warsi was appointed Minister of Faith, a newly created post. The National Secular Society fears the introduction of "theocratic" laws reducing freedom for secularists and the British Humanist Association is also uneasy because other politicians with faith agendas are prominent in the government.[8][9] Despite this others see her removal from the Cabinet as a demotion. Yet another view is that the appointment of a Muslim shows declining Christian influence in the UK.

[edit] Christianity

Warsi objected to the European constitution having no mention of God or Christianity, arguing that Christianity has played a defining role in shaping European society.[10] Warsi visited the Vatican in early 2012 and discussed with Pope Benedict XVI how she hoped Christianity can be brought back to a "central role in British public life." She did all this despite a poll by Mori finding 74% of UK Christians think religion should not specially influence public policy.[11]

[edit] Islam

Warsi believes that Islamophobia appears to be socially acceptable in British society, and criticises stereotyping of Muslims as either extremists or "moderate" Muslims.[12] Warsi's speech was not welcome in the Tory Party and may have led to her demotion from the Cabinet.[13] Warsi’s efforts to prevent people distinguishing between moderate and extreme Muslims may further be counter-productive as many UK people do not know which Muslim is moderate and which is extremist.[14]

[edit] Marriage

Warsi's married her second husband, Iftikhar Azam, in 2009. Shortly after the wedding, claims emerged from the family of Azam's ex-wife, Massarat Bi, that Bi (who does not understand English) was unaware that Azam was divorcing her until after the divorce had been finalised. These claims were publicised by that bastion of fair reporting about Muslims in Great Britain, the Daily Mail, along with accounts of violent behaviour towards Bi and the Mail report by members of Bi's family during the Mail's investigation.[15]

[edit] Footnotes

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