This article is part of our EU Referendum debate series, click here to read more.
Articles to Remain in the EU:
Articles to Leave the EU:
It is clear with the forthcoming Referendum on Britain’s Membership in the European Union (EU) that many Muslims are not really making an informed decision on whether to Vote Leave or Remain. When asked about the reasons for their decisions, it is clear many are not very well informed about the debate, and present very shallow arguments for their decisions. There has been one article advocating Brexit, although the issues raised in that article are addressed in the current article.
This article suggests that considering these key issues and our Islamic history, voting to remain in the European Union appears to have more benefits for Muslims than leaving. This is not to say that there is a definitive side that Muslims should be on (thus implying that the other side is therefore sinful). Rather, a balanced argument is presented which suggests there is more strength to remaining in the EU.
Format of this article:
This article is long, and readers are not expected to read all of it in one sitting (although effort has been made to try and make it flow well). It can be seen as a reference article, therefore readers can skip to the areas they wish to read (or read all of it for a comprehensive overview before the Referendum). To summarise, the format is as follows:
1) Responding to Muslim Brexit arguments– This includes two key areas: a) responding to European Islamophobia issues raised and b) responding to legislative issues.
2) Livelihood – addresses issues such as work and pay, travel and the environment.
3) Immigration – clarifies how the Remain side’s method of controlling immigration is more effective in the long term.
4) Finance – addresses issues such as Britain’s membership in the EU and the single market (and how they both affect Muslims).
5) Conclusion – A summary of the main issues based upon the evidence presented.
Throughout the article a positive case for the EU has been made as well as a move away from the ‘scare tactics’ we have seen on both sides of the campaign, even in Muslim arguments that have been put forward.
Responding to Muslim Brexit Arguments
The first areas that will be addressed are the legislation and Islamophobia issues which have been highlighted by some Muslim proponents of a Brexit. In summary, some argued that a Brexit will ‘shelter us from the storm’ – that ‘storm’ being the tidal wave of Islamophobia sweeping across Europe, and the lack of power we have to stop them legislating against us. However, there are a number of inaccuracies here, and points which appear to have been overlooked. I will try to respond to these points in a courteous manner, may Allah reward all those who make them for their efforts and sincerity.
Responding to European Islamophobia issues
Firstly, European attitudes towards Muslims are not as bad as some make them out to be. The Spring 2015 survey conducted by The Pew Research Centre included looking at Europeans’ attitudes towards Muslims across Europe. To clarify – this survey consisted of 45,435 face-to-face and telephone interviews in 40 countries, therefore it was not a ‘quick pop up survey’ on the internet whilst browsing (which no one really pays attention to). Rather it was one with real, genuine and honest answers given by Europeans about Muslims. It was also done deliberately after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. They found that – contrary to what some claim – views of Muslims were very favourable amongst Europeans. 76% of French people surveyed viewed Muslims favourably; the UK was 72%, Germany 69% and Spain 52%. Only the Polish (30%) and Italians (31%) viewed Muslims more unfavourably than favourably. The researchers concluded that, despite the Charlie Hebdo attacks, anti-Muslim sentiment on the whole is not rising in Europe for the average European, because it is disproportionately a right-wing phenomenon and not one prevalent across all Europeans. Therefore, Europeans are not mostly ‘Islamophobic’ as we are led to believe.
Notice as well that those countries which had more favourable views of Muslims were also the countries that had the greatest population of Muslims. Germany and France have over 4.7 million Muslims, the UK has over 2.9 million Muslims, and Spain has over 980,000. The only anomaly here is Italy – however this may be subject to other confounding variables such as the right wing members surveyed; a detailed analysis of these variables – although possible – is beyond the discussion of this article. The results are therefore in line with the ‘contact hypothesis’ in social psychology, which states that prejudice and discrimination will be reduced with greater contact between the in-group (in this case, native Europeans) and the out-group (Muslims). With more Muslims migrants entering these countries, it is likely that with time, and the effort of those Muslims to integrate into their countries, anti-Muslim sentiment will decrease as people become aware of how much they have in common with ‘those Muslims’ and not how different they are. Readers should be reminded of white British views of Pakistanis in the 1980’s and how this changed with more integration and contact between whites and Pakistani Muslims. To begin with people will be oppositional and defiant but, over time, we as Muslims have the power to change those views by how we behave towards non-Muslims.
It should also be stated that, contrary to what some may believe, for every ‘Islamophobe’ in Europe, there are also those Europeans who have supported migrants. Some have even taken migrants into their own homes – such as the Greek grandmother who looks after migrants on her pension alone. May Allah guide her to Islam. Angela Merkel, one of the main leaders in Europe, opened her borders to thousands of Syrian migrants, knowing full well that they were Muslims. The German people welcomed them as they entered as well. Therefore, instilling fear in people that we are facing a tidal wave of negative anti-Muslim sentiment and thus should ‘get out before Britain gets swamped too’ appears to be incorrect and misleading (although we are not saying this was intentional proposed by authors who mention the arguments, who do add a disclaimer against exaggerating the effects of Islamophobia). Therefore, Islamophobia in Europe is something to be aware of but it is by no means something to be afraid of. Muslims should be proactive and realise that the ability to positively change European attitudes towards Muslims is in their hands, and they should not feel weak and scared, and think ‘running away’ from Europe is the solution. The majority of Europeans are not even asking for this.
It should also be noted here that the main factor that can damage relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe is another terrorist attack by a Muslim. This has the potential to undo a lot of social cohesion work. The fact that many former UK security and intelligence chiefs advise that combating terrorism is easier in the EU than out is another reason why we should prefer to remain in Europe. Nobody wants to see another terrorist attack or the security services at greater risk.
Secondly, Brexit proponents inform us that the European Courts may legislate against Muslims; that those laws will be binding, and there will be nothing they can do about it. A crucial point has to be made here – The European Council of Justice’s (ECJ) approval of Islamophobic niqab bans are bottom-up, not top-down. This means, they have upheld decisions of individual member states, not initiated those decisions themselves in the first place and then enforced them on the 28 countries that are members. Furthermore, those decisions to uphold those rulings were made in the context of, in their view, liberal dichotomies, and not because of a deep hatred of the niqab or Islam. Such arguments can actually be combated by Muslims whereas deep-rooted hatred of Muslims is often harder to combat. Also the idea that the ECJ will legislate a bill that is anti-Muslim (e.g. banning halal meat) that is binding across 28 member states and requires all of them to adhere to it is incredibly unlikely because of the number of people it will impact and the outcry it will cause. If anything, it would certainly not be rushed through like Theresa May’s bills which, ironically, in the case of a Brexit would be binding and there is nothing you could do about it (we will touch upon this point in more detail later).
Remaining in the EU actually offers protection from such anti-Muslim legislation coming into force. This is because when Europe is looked at as a whole, it is much better to remain in. Remaining in Europe will guarantee more money for EU countries because of Britain’s membership fee. This money will be spent on developing poorer EU countries where Islamophobic hostilities remain, including on Research and Education in those countries – which is currently given a share of the EU budget in poorer countries (we explore this is in more detail under the Immigration section, using Poland as an example). Better universities will mean a better educated population and this is likely to lead to less discrimination against Muslims.
Also, consider the reverse – a Brexit will reduce funding for EU countries, which may mean cuts. Cuts cause a drop in the economy of those countries, which may mean increases in unemployment. What better way to take out your frustrations than on the Muslims? Thus, this may increase anti-Muslim sentiment across Europe, which is then picked up by the UK.
Contrary to what some claim, a Brexit may actually give UKIP more momentum, not signify its end. Supported by European Islamophobia, and over-zealous with the new power to legislate itself, those right-wing MPs may propose new anti-islamic laws under the guise of ‘making Britain great again’ or ‘protecting British values’ which we will be powerless to stop. Who then would there be to turn to, to at least try and over-rule such decisions? Simply changing government in 5 years time (and even that is largely out of the control of Muslims), does not mean they will repeal all the anti-Muslim laws or initiatives of the previous government. Has ‘Prevent’ been reversed yet? They may choose to keep them.
Muslims also fail to see how the decisions they make affect those around them. How will other EU countries view a Brexit? 70% of the nine EU countries surveyed by the Pew Research Centre felt that the UK leaving the EU would be a bad thing. Considering the fact that all EU leaders also want Britain to stay, if Britain votes to leave – to say they will be disappointed with Britain is an understatement. It will be seen as Britain wanting to distance itself from the problems Europe faces. Do you really think if Britain goes on to be successful and harmonious with Muslims that these European countries will really care? Instead of looking at multicultural, tolerant Britain as an example of how to treat Muslims, it will instead be ignored as ‘your situation with Muslims is different, we’re in the EU’. Therefore, instead of being able to influence key decisions affecting Muslims in Europe, they will not be invited to the meeting room.
Some Brexit proponents also mention that Muslims should be worried about the next President of the European Union, Robert Fico, as he said ‘Islam has no place in Slovakia’. What they do not mention is that he is only in term for 6 months, and this is only because the presidency is rotated amongst all member countries and it happens to be his turn and not because he was voted to be the EU president above all others. He also works in a trio with Holland and Malta and not on his own (like a dictator, single-handedly destroying every opposition), and thus soon the EU presidency will be in the hands of someone else. Muslims need to be aware as well that the EU is bigger than 1 single person. Slovakia have been threatened with fines of €250,000 per migrant if they fail to accept migrants, so much for Fico’s ‘Islam has no place in Slovakia’ statement. In other words, Europe is positive, and is forcing such right-wing people in those countries to accept the integration of Muslims. The only way to break down barriers is with contact with Muslims, and the EU is heading in the right direction with this in my opinion. Again, we should not be ‘afraid’ of such people as many would be mistakenly left feeling after some Muslim Brexit arguments.
There is also more evidence to support this. Europe, as we know, has a dark history which it acknowledges and, in fact, which it has an attitude of ‘Never again’ towards. Never again will they head towards a holocaust – be it of Muslims or Jews. Jean Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, has also vowed to use his power to make sure that no right-wing populists can have any power in a European Union member state. He said:
“There will be no debate or dialogue with the far-right,”
Furthermore, he made these comments in response to the Austrian Presidential elections that saw the right-wing Freedom Party’s (FPO) candidate Norbert Hofer lose by just 31,000 votes. Therefore, thinking that the EU is at risk of being taken over by far-right politicians is completely inaccurate. Europe recognises that far-right movements such as PEGIDA are an issue, but are determined to make sure they do not gain ground higher up the ranks. It is not heading towards a ‘Nazi-takeover’ as incorrectly implied by some.
Some argue that politicians in the UK who want to legislate against Islam have to move more slowly here, but is this really true? How slowly did Theresa May act with rushing the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill through Parliament following the exaggerated security concerns of returning ISIS fighters last year? Introduced to Parliament only in November 2014, it was law by February 2015 with almost no pre-legislative scrutiny or public consultation. This was a British law made by British people which had severe consequences for Muslims – nothing to do with European Courts. The same could be said about the current ‘Investigatory Powers Bill’ (nicknamed the ‘Snoopers Charter’) which will have further consequences on our freedoms. Such legislation gets rushed through British Parliament when it would otherwise, under normal circumstances, have had several reviews. I would rather have Britain held to account by European Courts for doing so, than be able to freely legislate so rashly without any accountability. Better some protection than no protection.
Therefore, non-Muslims in the EU are actually more positive towards Muslims than we might have been led to think. Politicians with right-wing views have absolutely no power in the EU and it will not tolerate them even being let into the meeting room, let alone legislating against Muslims. More migrants in the EU will lead to increased attitudes towards Muslims in the long-term. Britain is also far safer having the EU keep its laws in check, rather than allowing it to rush in anti-terror laws which have a drastic effect on Muslims in the UK. It also seems more logical to allow a group of countries to legislate, rather than have a single country legislate regarding Muslim issues. As, if the one country makes a mistake, you are in trouble whereas a group of countries, sitting and debating in detail, considering the best interests of that minority group across 28 member states, are far less likely to make such drastic mistakes. They also have the power to over-rule individual member state’s mistakes. Overall, the EU is positive towards Muslims in my opinion.
Now that some of the main points made by Muslim Brexit advocates have been addressed, we can move on to addressing other cases for remaining in Europe. The rest of this article will look at the strengths the European Union has to offer us in 3 main areas: Livelihood, Immigration and Finance. We have already covered Legislation in the previous section. A conclusion is made thereafter.
From an Islamic perspective, when looking at how our livelihood is affected under the EU, it is important to take into account how Brexit changes are not only going to affect ourselves and our immediate family members, but also the rest of the country as a whole. Our primary concern should be whether such changes will cause harm to anyone (and if that harm is substantial), as prevention of harm should always take precedence over any (perceived) good that may arise out of a change.
The EU has provided numerous laws in the workplace that hold employers in Britain to account for the way they treat their employees, including their work and pay. This includes setting minimum standards for working and employment conditions, as well as limiting working hours and ensuring a minimum amount of paid annual leave (4 weeks). Health and safety rules are also included in this. Although enforcing these regulations costs Britain a significant amount of money (which the Brexit campaign argue is unacceptable), it seems difficult to take the promises of Leave campaigners that the UK would put such laws into place itself if it leaves. Many people would argue that they would, in fact, rather have the laws guaranteed in place as they are now, than trust the ‘promises’ of another group of politicians who have not yet delivered those promises. Also, in reality, we cannot put a price on the long-term mental and physical health effects of discrimination and unfair treatment in the workplace; such costs to the British economy would arguably far outweigh any EU regulations costs.
Although not the most highlighted point in the media, the EU has provided numerous protections and benefits for us as consumers which we also take for granted (perhaps also think are embedded in British law). Households save an average of £450 a year as prices are lower because of EU membership. Also electronic appliances comes with a 2 year guarantee (as well as being safer), thus if they break within this period the company is legally required to fix it. The EU grants have built trains and tram stations, bridges, roads and airports across Europe, making travel easier for everyone. In the workplace, discrimination is illegal, as are limits on long working hours; and maternity leave is guaranteed under EU law. All ingredients have to be listed in foods, as well as allergens. Therefore, leaving the EU leaves all of these areas open to potential abuse by any government, which may conveniently whisk in changes under the pretext of it being ‘better for Britain’ or ‘more in line with British values’.
Another point to take into account is that it is much easier to travel within EU member states as a member of the EU. Visas are not required to enter any of its countries however, a vote to leave the EU could change this. As MP Alan Johnson stated:
“There are 2.5 million tourists that come to Scotland every year, how are you going to differentiate between the Polish plumber and the Polish tourist? It means surely a system of visas…”
This will be concerning especially for Muslims as they are already harassed enough at airports, and over harmless visa applications to Disneyland, let alone having to apply for a visa to enter the UK or any other European country. This potentially opens up the possibility of abuse of this system towards Muslims across many European countries.
Leaving also has a negative effect on those currently working in the UK. As George Osborne stated, leaving will result in thousands of people being at risk of losing their jobs:
“So let’s end this deception that somehow if we quit the EU that jobs won’t be at risk. It’s deceiving people to pretend that we can leave the EU and jobs won’t be at risk. In our analysis of the services sector alone, 400,000 jobs will be at risk. These aren’t numbers on a trading screen or an accountant’s graph, they are people’s livelihood, their ability to support their families, their ability to live out their dreams and aspirations and that is what is on the ballot paper when we vote in this referendum”.
It seems incorrect, therefore, to put these individuals’ jobs at immediate risk, for a perceived increase in better living standards suggested by the Brexit campaign, which, when looked at in detail as above, is unlikely.
The EU goes a long way towards protecting the environment and reducing energy consumption. It tackles climate change and legislates on water quality and air pollution. It has also cleaned up the air, rivers and beaches in the EU. It has done this by setting common standards that all industries have to abide by meaning they cannot undercut each other by producing cheaper goods which pollute the environment. Total energy consumption has fallen since 2007 – when EU leaders agreed measures to tackle climate change. The leave campaign, although having spoken about the environment, appears to offer nothing significant for us to savour by leaving the EU. It seems they are aware of the effectiveness of the EU in helping keep our planet healthy. Thus, leaving the EU puts all of the important progress made in protecting our environment at risk.
Immigration has to be one of the most important aspects of this referendum, with many people citing it as a reason for them voting to leave. It goes without saying that we cannot have uncontrolled immigration, as such a concept is completely unsustainable and detrimental to any country in both the short-term and the long-term. It is not akin to racism or xenophobia to have concerns about immigration either, as the concern is not simply having other people in the country, but the level of immigration – which may negatively affect the native people already living in that country (which is completely understandable). However, the Leave campaign have tried to be clever in portraying the current situation to the British public as one of uncontrolled immigration. Therefore, the British public have a choice: either remain with an uncontrolled immigration system and have longer hospital waiting hours and no school places for your children, or vote to leave and have an ‘Australian style points-based system’ where we cherry pick the ‘best migrants’ according to our own criteria.
Crucially, they argue that this is ‘taking back control’ – thus playing into a very convenient narrative in the year 2016 – a time where more control is an incredibly salient concept promoted by: technology firms, feminism groups and sales companies which strive to give their customers increased choice and greater independence. Thus, any campaign which appears to give people ‘more control’ will strike well, as that is one of the most salient narratives in our times.
The fallacy here is that it is greater perceived control, because, as we will outline below, Britain is not ‘out of control’ with immigration (as you may have been bombarded with in the media), nor will it be able to fully control immigration even if it leaves the EU. Furthermore, the incentives which promote negative forms of immigration in the first place (such as available benefits, higher wages, and the poor economic situation in the home country) are being dealt with effectively by Britain whilst remaining in the European Union.
The Leave campaign argues that it is unfair to allow any European immigrant to come and live in Britain, whilst non-European immigrants are restricted in their numbers. However this is an incorrect way of looking at this issue, because it does not take into account the reason why they want to come here in the first place. Is it because they are:
Long-Term Migrants – They want to live a British lifestyle and want to work and live here permanently.
Short-Term Migrants – They want to work in this country, save money, build a better family and, when they have enough money, go back to their own country. (This includes the fact that if their home country’s economy and employment rates improved significantly, they would return back).
Economic Migrants – They want to take full access of the benefits system as they cannot get a job in their home country, and have no intention of working.
Illegal Migrants – They want to come here at all costs (such as on the back of a lorry from Calais), even if it means not being granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
(Note: Asylum seekers are a separate category which will not be discussed here, in the interests of keeping this section concise and focused only on immigration).
The problem that many British people have is that an automatic assumption is made by some Britons (due partly to negative media portrayals), that anyone from one of the European countries (such as Poland, Romania and Bulgaria) must be either an Illegal or an Economic Migrant, whereas anyone from one of the predominantly white Western or Commonwealth countries (such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada) must be a Long-Term Migrant. This appears to be a subtle form of racism by many British people, and it is sadly reflected in some Britons’ attitudes towards such people on the streets and in polls.
There are many Polish and Romanian people living in the UK who are actually Long-Term Migrants, and have every intention of helping contribute to the British economy and live here peacefully. They work in our NHS and other public services in both low and high skilled areas of employment. They are polite and respect the laws of the country.
Furthermore, there is absolutely no harm in giving preference to those immigrants who are closer to you geographically, who are in the same union and who you have a trade deal with, over those whom are not closer to you and who are not part of the same union. It can also be argued that they are in more need of working in this country than those migrants from wealthier countries, because of the economic situation in their own country. Therefore it makes more sense to give them a priority, when you take into account their family situation. This seems more in line with the behaviour of a Muslim: to prioritise based on need, rather than on who makes the country even better regardless of other peoples’ needs.
Another critical point here is that most Illegal immigrants to the UK actually come from outside the EU. Most of them come from the following 5 countries: India, Pakistan, China, Nigeria and Albania. None of these countries are in the European Union. Therefore these people will continue to come to Britain even if we leave the EU and adopt an ‘Australian style points-based system’. This is because we are not helping to deal with the root cause of the issues, which is that the economic prospects in their country are so poor that they feel they have no choice but to leave.
It is clear from the Leave campaign’s narrative that instead of dealing with the incentives that promote negative forms of migration, they would rather ‘shut up shop’ and close the borders. This does not actually solve the problem of negative migration – which will continue. Two main incentives that promote negative migration to Britain are: 1) the availability of benefits and higher rates of pay and 2) the employment rate of the home country.
Firstly, Economic and Illegal Migrants come here because they know that they can find work with higher minimum wages than back home, or claim benefits. However David Cameron has started to deal with this, with his ‘emergency brake’ measures, which include blocking social security benefits for new EU immigrants for the first four years. Family welfare benefits for unemployed EU immigrants in Britain can be blocked as well. Secondly, the EU helps to deal with the problem of unemployment in poorer EU countries with the membership fees each country pays. For example, 39% of the EU’s annual budget (that is £41.4 billion out of a total of £106.1 billion) was given to developing poorer countries in the EU (especially Poland) in 2014. £9.97 billion was given to the 15 poorest EU countries, and this money was used for a number of projects, including funding business start-ups and charities, which will increase employment in those countries.
If we look at Poland in more detail for example, it was given £56 billion pounds in development funds between 2007-2013. Between 2008 and 2015, it ran a project called ‘The Road towards Entrepreneurial Poland’ which was financed by the European Regional Development Fund. This project helped more than 6,000 business initiatives, and generated an income of €35.5 million euros. Poland’s GDP per capita (a measure of a country’s economic output per person, and thus its standard of living) has more than doubled since 1989, and in 2015 it exceeded $24,000. Therefore, paying into the EU – i.e. the EU membership fee that we pay – is helping to improve the economy and job prospects in poorer EU countries and, over time, this will reduce the number of people who seek to come to the UK in the long-term.
Therefore, what appears to be the better thing to do, and what may be better in the sight of Allah, is for wealthier countries in one region, to help the poorer countries in that region to build and improve – both by helping their people find employment and by growing the economy of their own countries (in this case, due to Britain’s financial contribution to the EU). This allows them to be more independent and allows their people to return to their home countries with new skills, if they wish, whilst also reducing the incentive for migration towards others. It also improves our country with their workforce. It does not seem correct for Britain to shut its borders, then cherry pick who it wants to let in to make its country ‘even better’, whilst all the rest lag behind. We are forgetting the premise of the European Union here which is to help a group of countries as a whole to improve, and not just allow one to excel whilst the rest suffer. This is like a team, where the leaders help those who are struggling instead of leaving them behind. This surely seems more in line with our Sunnah and Islamic history than the latter option of saying: ‘fix your own problems; we are only concerned about ourselves and making us even better’. The point is not being made here that this is the Islamic stance on the issue. Rather, an opinion is being given that this seems more in line with the Sunnah of the Prophet (sall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam).
It is surprising to see some Muslims say – when it comes to finance in the EU Referendum – that ‘it’s not one of the issues affecting Muslims’. This goes to show the naivety of some Muslims and their limited thinking about some referendum issues. There is no doubt that if Britain left the European Union and entered an economic recession (as predicted by some economists) then British Muslims’ jobs will be at risk. The knock on effect of this is that your children will potentially not be able to have the finance they need to fund their futures. Also, higher unemployment around the country often coincides with increased rates of crime, and may lead to increased aggression towards Muslims (as an outlet for frustrations). Some, for some to argue that ‘finance and economy arguments are unimportant to Muslims because they do not affect Muslims’ is incorrect.
Undoubtedly, one of the main reasons people are choosing to vote ‘Leave’ is because of the narrative put out by the Brexit campaign that ‘£55 million pounds is being given to the EU every day as part of Britain’s ‘Cost of Membership’, and that money is ‘wasted money’ which could be spent on British public services’. The assumption that it is wasted money is because ‘we do not see the effects of that money in our daily lives, therefore we want it back.’ To clarify, the sum is actually £35 million once the rebate is taken into account, and not the above incorrect sum purported by the Leave campaign.
Regardless of the figures, it is clear that Britain gives far more in monetary contribution to the EU than it gets in return. For example, in 2013 Britain gave around £17 billion to the EU, whilst getting only £6 billion back in monetary return. This, many people argue, is unacceptable as our money is ‘not coming back to us’.
However, from an Islamic perspective, it seems appropriate to challenge this notion. Is it really a ‘bad thing’ that other nations receive the money that Britain puts in? If they are more in need of that money, why is this necessarily something bad? Also, what exactly should we consider ‘fair’?
The notion that Britain should get in return more monetary currency (and I stress this point – more return in the form of actual money) than it contributes is based on the premise that Britain should maintain its status over other countries as ‘better and superior in every single way’ (including financially), however, the Prophet (sall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was concerned about the betterment of society as a whole, and not just a single tribe’s affluent status over the others. What is fair is not necessarily an ‘equal distribution’ but one based upon need.
The EU’s distribution of wealth is in accordance with the needs of those countries. It looks at the betterment of those countries as a whole, whilst ensuring no country is significantly compromised in the process. Therefore if other countries close to us such as Greece or Poland need that money more than us, we should not see that as ‘unfair’ but should, in fact, understand the reasons why those countries are receiving higher sums of money. Not because they are ‘scavenging vultures’ but because they are in more need of it than Britain. Such acts can, in fact, be viewed as a form of charity, and may bring a reward in return in multiple ways which cannot be seen in direct monetary form. Allah, out of His infinite mercy, also rewards those non-Muslims who do good with good in this world, despite them not doing it for His sake. Therefore, the idea that we should stop doing this good by leaving the EU to ‘save more money for ourselves’ does not necessarily mean Britain will have ‘more wealth’, as it could lead to a decrease in return.
Also, who is to say Britain will definitely spend this ‘spare money’ on what the people are calling for it to be spent on? Many Brexit campaigners argue that they would like to see a significant proportion of the money being spent on the NHS and other public services to ‘save’ them. However, these same people seem to forget that it is the current government that made those cuts and lack of effective spending on the police, and contributed to many issues with the NHS (which it put on a road towards being privatised) when it, arguably, did not have to. The problem appears not to be that there is not enough money; but that the government does not spend the money it does have effectively as well as address other issues surrounding public services. As Richard Taunt argues, having more money to give to the NHS will not necessarily solve these problems. Further to this, who is to say that this new ‘spare money’ will not go on increased military spending or on other areas many Muslims would not like to see it go to? As I am sure there will be many people queuing up to be on the receiving end of it, and deals will likely be made without the public knowing. There is nothing stopping an unaccountable British government from doing as it wishes with such money, and making excuses in the process. At least in the EU we know where such money is going as it has a responsibility to show where public money is being spent and the countries show that they have used the money given to them effectively.
Trade and the Economy is another important factor to take into account. In the EU, Britain currently has access to the ‘single market’ which allows the free movement of goods without tariffs being imposed on those goods. It is thus cheaper and there are more incentives to trade with other European countries. As a result, 45% of Britain’s exports currently go to the EU, accounting for a large part of the country’s revenue. Leaving the EU will likely result in Britain leaving the single market and, as a result, Britain would no longer have access to this community of free trade. Britain could technically re-negotiate with the EU to re-gain access to the single market, whilst paying extra fees however, with the Leave Campaign reluctant to do this, and with EU ministers ruling it out, it is highly unlikely it would happen. Furthermore, if it did happen then there would be years of negotiation as to what those terms would specifically be, so there is no guarantee the terms would be ideal for Britain. Resting on the ‘promises’ again of the Leave campaign that ‘we’ll get better deals with non-EU countries such as China’ – is once again putting your trust in, quite simply, a politician’s promise. Britain and British businesses have worked extremely hard to establish themselves in the EU as an economic powerhouse and it could all go down the drain because of people putting their trust in politicians’ dreams and promises.
The bottom line is – whilst you will find endless financial arguments for or against remaining in the single market – the current situation works reasonably well for Britain. Although Britain cannot agree individual trade deals with other countries, those other countries (such as the US) prefer to access a single block of countries anyway, rather than having deal with every single country separately. Britain’s economy has increased under this single market system and it has shown a remarkable turnaround since it joined the EU and single market. Risking leaving this and then trying to start from scratch negotiating individual free-trade deals with different countries (including the EU) – whilst they themselves do not want to do this – is not likely to work out in a beautiful, harmonious way.
Overall, it is clear that the arguments for Brexit, when looked at in detail, appear to be fragile and incoherent, with little substance to it. There are far better reasons for Britain to remain in the European Union. According to research, Europeans are overwhelmingly positive towards Muslims, and those European countries that are trying to be intolerant of Muslims, are being forced by the European Union to put a stop to their ways. The EU has been incredibly supportive especially towards Muslim migrants, and has a firm commitment to ensuring no far-right politician even gets his voice heard in European Parliament, let alone legislate in it.
There is clear evidence that the British parliament has fast-tracked harmful bills into laws with little opposition, which have had serious consequences for British Muslims. Whilst some people propose that the EU could do this on a large scale top-down (and not bottom-up), across EU countries (which is incredibly unlikely given the spirit of the EU member states as a whole and the logistical impracticalities involved), Britain is already doing this as we speak. The idea that they could do this, and not be accountable to anybody else, is even worse. A body of countries are highly unlikely to agree upon oppressive laws towards Muslims unlike one country on its own – and that country having no accountability for what it does is even more dangerous. The EU’s ability to overrule at least offers a psychological deterrent to Britain, as well as a practical safety barrier (as opposed to no barrier). Although the system is not perfect as it does not always rule in favour of Muslims, it is the best option we have at the moment.
The EU has implemented so many beneficial workplace laws that British Muslims take for granted. Leaving the EU puts all of these at risk, again leaving British people to put all their trust in the ‘promises’ of politicians that ‘they will put all these laws back in place in UK law’. They are trying to convince us that leaving certainty for uncertainty is a better option. Ease of travel may be put at risk for Muslims by leaving (being replaced with visa harassment in yet more countries), as well as UK jobs and environmental protections.
Staying in the EU provides the most effective method of reducing negative forms of immigration long-term as it directly deals with the incentives that promote negative forms of migration in the first place. These include the availability of benefits and higher wages, and high unemployment in the home EU country. Benefits to migrants are currently being reduced and, by contributing to the development of poorer EU countries such as Poland with British EU membership, this has in-turn created more jobs in those countries and increased their GDP per capita and thus their standard of living. This decreases the incentive to migrate in the long-term from those European countries. What the Leave campaign have failed to highlight to the public is that the top 5 countries for illegal immigration to the UK are not even in the EU – as such, this problem will continue even if we leave the EU.
Finally, the economic risk of pulling out of the EU from such a stable position is greater than the financial ‘promises’ of Brexit campaigners by leaving. This includes the promises that they will get better trade deals with non-EU countries – despite the fact that both EU and non-EU countries do not want them to do this in the first place. This also includes the promises that all of this ‘spare money’ from EU membership will go towards all the things you want such as the NHS and police, and not what they may want such as increased military spending. Such public services have more problems than just lack of money, but how they are being run. More money will not necessarily solve these problems. The general public will have little control over where this EU membership money gets allocated and is left clinging to the promises of a British government. The money may even need to go on emergency financial measures due to a collapse in the economy from leaving the EU. Sticking with the secure trade deals we have at the moment appears to be the most sensible solution as the risk of a recession, increased unemployment and subsequent higher crime rates is not worth it as it will ultimately have a negative impact on Muslims across Europe.
Although this article encourages Muslims to vote Remain, we ask Allah to make the outcome – whatever it is – beneficial to Muslims across the globe, and to protect them from harm.
And Allah knows best.
 These are: Consumer Affairs; Education and Research; Family and Fishing; Immigration; Sovereignty and Laws; Travel and Living Abroad; Cost of Membership; Energy and Environment; Global Role and Defence; Policing and Security; Trade and Economy and Work and Pay.
The views expressed on Islam21c and its connected channels do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation.