Mr Afzal Khan, Labour’s first Muslim MEP and first Muslim Lord Mayor of Manchester, appeals to the Muslim community to support Remain in the EU campaign. “Muslims have been part of Europe for hundreds of years – now is not the time to turn away,”  Mr Khan wrote in an exclusive article for Asian Lite News 

Mr Afzal Khan MEP, Labour’s first Muslim MEP and first Muslim Lord Mayor of Manchester-
Mr Afzal Khan MEP, Labour’s first Muslim MEP and first Muslim Lord Mayor of Manchester-

The referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU will be the most important question our generation faces. For me, as a father, a proud Brit and a Muslim, the answer is simple – we are stronger, safer and richer in the EU than we would be if we left. Europe is our largest trading partner with 45% of our exports going there and three and half million jobs linked to that trade. Everyday almost £70 million of investment comes to Britain from Europe and the single market has driven down prices for us all. Leaving the EU is a huge gamble and would put all this at risk.

When I think about the future and what I want for my children, I think about the kind of country I want us to be. I want them to live in a Britain that is open, secure and outward looking. The kind of country that I was lucky enough to come to when I was adopted from Pakistan as a child.

Lord Lieutenant of Manchester Mr Warren Smith at Muslim Heritage Centre
Lord Lieutenant of Manchester Mr Warren Smith at Muslim Heritage Centre

My story – like that of many immigrants – is one of someone who came from humble beginnings and had to work my own way up. Britain, in the European Union, gave me the platform to live my dreams. I worked hard, excelled, and was grateful. I moved from common labourer, to law student and solicitor, then Manchester’s first Muslim Lord Mayor, before I was elected as Labour’s first Muslim MEP.

And so the question we a really being asked in this referendum is: what kind of Britain do we want in the future? Is it one where thanks to economic opportunity, anyone through hard work can overcome their background and where diversity and openness are celebrated? Or is it one out of Europe where Britain is inward looking, isolated and weaker.

For me the answer is clear: Britain is better off as part of a collective market of 500 million people – 25 million of which are Muslims. It’s sometimes said that you can’t be Muslim and a European. I totally reject this. Both Islam and Muslims belong to Europe. This has been so for centuries and we would be foolish to turn away now.

Today Muslims cannot be treated as belonging to some other civilization. Europe’s Muslims have been born in Europe. German, English and French are their first languages and we now make up 6.5 per cent of the population.

This is our referendum as well and our chance to shape the future for the better. I believe that better future lies within the EU not outside of it. As part of Europe we not only get all the benefits we currently enjoy – the trade, the investment and social and employment freedoms – we also get the knowledge that in an increasingly uncertain world we do not have to face our problems alone.

So let’s make our voice heard, both as Muslims and as Europeans. And vote to stay in the EU and ensure Britain stays stronger, safer and more prosperous, now and in the future.  Afzal team

(Afzal Khan is a Labour MEP for the North West of England and the Socialist and Democrats Group special representative to Muslim communities. He tweets @akhanmep)



  1. Surprising view as majority of the Asians have suffered greatly due to the EU policies. Although the old saying is ‘True’ Together we are strong nd divideo we are weak. We wouldn’t want eu to end up divided like the Muslim countries and end up selling their souls as well as their land.

  2. As a British Muslim I agree with above article except for Muslims who are not very well off have suffered just like any other religion due to the immigration policy agreement we have with Europe. This one policy has bought this great country Great Britain on it’s knees and I must say today if you need an appointment to see the docter you have to wait approx 2-3 weeks. If you have an emergency the nearest A&E is a minimum 30-45 mins drive away longer during rush hours. Our A&E has been taken away due to cost cutting measures introduced again due to the NHS being overwhelmed with immigration. We can’t even control our own borders anymore. I am not against immigration but vast amounts of immigration from all over into one country has bought this country down to breaking point. It’s good for business without a doubt those who didn’t work for £6-8 an hour are doing work for £5 an hour. I know it’s illegal but we all know it’s happening. People losing a job unable to get a job. I can write a book on the issue. I won’t caret on as there’s far more than some see behind the veil. If immigration was at an acceptable level then I’m sure it would be okay by all. David Cameron couldn’t do anything about the issue neither so I’d say good for businesses & business people, not so good for the average common muslim or anyone from any other religion. Don’t forget Switzerland is bit in Europe and does more business with Europe than us and is no worse off.


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