August 03, 2020
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Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

One of UK's best-known columnists, she writes on politics and culture for major dailies like The Independent and Evening Standard

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Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
What made you leave Uganda in 1972?

Idi Amin was making life very difficult for Indians there, trying to kick us out. I got a scholarship to Oxford and left as a young girl.

How did that experience shape your writing?

I’ve always felt I don’t belong anywhere. Not African, not Indian, certainly not English.

You’re seen as a liberal writer. What sort of expectations does that create?

Blacks and Asians say I should never criticise our own communities. But we have to examine ourselves to move ahead.

How do you view New Labour’s role in Iraq?

I have no words to describe the utter shame I feel for voting for Tony Blair. He should be tried in an international court.

Why did you return your MBE?

I didn’t agree with the war and I don’t buy this concept of a ‘New Empire’. The poet Benjamin Zepheniah shamed me into it live on TV.

Was there a change in attitude towards young Asian Muslims in Britain after 7/7?

There were backlashes, sometimes violent. But like America, Britain didn’t lose its head.

Why has no Asian ever held a cabinet position in the British government?

The older Asian MPs were not really capable. But the younger ones are proving more capable.

What did you write that drew flak from conservative Muslims in Britain?

I wrote against faith-based schools, veiling and hidden injustices within Asian families like forced marriages and repression of women.

Can you claim to be a representative voice for Muslim women in the UK?

No, I’m just a columnist. Though I feel a responsibility, I can’t speak for the entire community.

Plans for the future?

I want to live in India with my husband so he can know what it’s like to live as a minority. But Indians will treat him better than me!

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