Muslims highlight double standards over Nigel Farage bank closure uproar

Muslim commentators are highlighting the Islamophobic double standards surrounding the uproar over Nigel Farage’s bank account closure and contrasting it with the near-silence over the bank closures of Muslims in the past decade.

Countless British Muslim organisations and individuals have experienced the same fate without the same media outcry or political support.

Critics say it once again shines a light on institutional bigotry; when British Muslim free speech is stifled without any uproar, but objectionable views of privileged white men are excused and protected.

It has also led many to again point out how Muslims are treated as the “canaries in the coal mine” when it comes to restrictions on civil liberties.

Farage said his Coutts account was closed because the bank disagreed with his political views. The documents related to the decision to close his account flagged concerns that the former UKIP leader was “xenophobic and racist”.

It triggered a wave of sympathy from right-wing media and politicians. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said there would be a review and the Prime Minister said “no one should be barred from using basic services for their political views.”

The reaction bemused Muslims who’ve had their services barred because of their political views.

“Thanks for the support PM. I’ve had bank accounts from Barclays, TSB, Metro, Santander, NatWest, HSBC, RBS, Lloyds and more systematically and arbitrarily closed without explanation over the past decade. No recourse to appeal. I’m sure they’ll all reconsider their unethical positions now you’ve spoken,” quipped author and the senior director of Cage Moazzam Begg.

Farage received an apology from the boss of NatWest, which owns Coutts. Dame Alison said she believed “very strongly that freedom of expression and access to banking are fundamental to our society and it is absolutely not our policy to exit a customer on the basis of legally held political and personal views”.

The apology to Farage comes after the Treasury announced plans to implement stricter rules on UK banks regarding closing customer accounts.

Muslim accounts closed

For over a decade, numerous Muslims have had their bank accounts removed without explanation or uproar.

Finsbury Park mosque said when its account in 2014 closed “very few cared.”

The mosque eventually won an apology and damages after it was found that the Thompson Reuters subsidiary, World-Check, had erroneously included the mosque on a global database linking it to terrorism activities. The assessment resulted in the mosque’s bank, HSBC, closing its account and other banks refusing to take it on.

“Free speech should not be the purview of the privileged, famous & those with friends in the media. Many are saying that “you don’t have to agree with Farage, to think this is wrong”. Where were they when our bank account was closed, or that of other Muslims?,” it said in the tweet.

“Bank accounts should not be closed or withdrawn as a punishment due to political views, religious affiliations or expressing opinions (that are legal).”

The mosque emphasised that the double standards in reactions is “a stark reminder of the pervasive Islamophobia that lurks within our society.”

It added: “We demand consistent responses and equal protection under the law, irrespective of political views or religious identity.”

“Muslims don’t count”

Journalist Peter Oborne said he has been documenting these stories for many years and yet none of those incidents have generated the same political or media fervour as Farage’s issue has.

In a video with Double Down News, he pointed out how other journalists did not care and his own newspaper, The Telegraph, would not run the stories.

“My conclusion is there can really only be one answer. It was British Muslims, for the most part, who were having their bank accounts removed. And, of course, British Muslims don’t count,” he said.

Lawyer Fahad Ansari highlighted that in several cases, it wasn’t just institutions and individuals that faced bank account closures, but entire Muslim families were targeted.

“Not only was the account of @FriendsofAlAqsa closed but also the personal and business accounts of its chair @Ismailadampatel who had banked with the ‘ethical’ @CooperativeBank for 30 years,” he said in a tweet thread.

“HSBC went further and not only closed the account of the head of @CordobaFoundati @anasaltikriti but also the accounts of his wife and children, then aged just 16 and 12 years of age.”

Highlighting the hypocrisy

Here’s a roundup of other social media posts that highlight the hypocrisy surrounding the story

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