Watch Nidhi Razdan: Gaza war impacts politics in West Video Credit: Gulf News

Ahead of elections in two major democracies this year — the United States and the United Kingdom — the fallout of the Israel’s war in Gaza is playing out in different and significant ways. In the US, polls show that President Biden’s strong support for Israel is not winning him much love among younger Americans as well as Arab Americans which could be a crucial factor in key states like Michigan.

In the UK, new data shows an even more worrying trend -- rising Islamophobia in the country since the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7 last year. An agency called ‘Tell Mama’ which monitors anti Muslim hate crimes, says it has documented over 2000 Islamophobic incidents between Oct. 7, 2023 and Feb. 7 this year, which is a sharp rise from the 600 incidents recorded for the same time frame last year.

This includes cases of physical assault, vandalism and abusive behaviour and most of the targets have been Muslim women. On the other side, there has also been a rise in antisemitic incidents in the UK as emotions run high.

In the middle of this, the UK’s conservative party and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are in a raging row over Islamophobic comments made by a Tory MP who has since been suspended. Lee Anderson created a storm last week when he tagetted London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan. Anderson was roundly criticised from across the political spectrum forcing the Tories to distance themselves from him fairly quickly.

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

"Anti-Muslim bigotry"

Sadiq Khan has been frequently targeted by the Conservatives for allowing pro Palestinian protests in London. But while Lee Anderson faced suspension as a Tory MP, it is Rishi Sunak who has come under greater fire for not taking a strong enough position on the issue.

Sunak called the remarks made by Lee “unacceptable” and “wrong”, but he declined to call them Islamophobic. Sadiq Khan has lashed out at Sunak and the Tories for not calling out Anderson’s “ignorant, prejudiced and racist” comments.

In a newspaper piece, Khan said “anti-Muslim bigotry and racism are not taken seriously”. This polarisation has got amplified since last October. Polls in the UK however show that most Britons want to see an end to Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

Read more by Nidhi Razdan

But many staunch pro Israel voices want to project any pro Palestinian voices as “extremist”, which is what Lee Anderson has been trying to do. The UK parliament witnesses chaotic scenes only day earlier over a vote on whether to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The only reason Rishi Sunak’s condemnation of Lee Anderson was so weak was the fact that a section of the Conservative Party agrees with this view. But in the process of trying to distance himself from Anderson and yet not entirely attack him, Sunak seems to have fallen between two stools.

Hate crimes and bigotry are real issues and for far too long, political leaders have either sat on the fence or simply fanned the flames. It’s time to call them out.