The Lib Dem Iftar: When Virtue Signalling Spectacularly Backfires | Wasiq Wasiq

If ever there was an opportunity for the Liberal Democrats to promote themselves – given that they lost significant ground in the last general election – then what better way to do it than to show solidarity to Muslims by, wait for it… fasting during Ramadan! This virtue signalling, using a fasting to gain the “Muslim vote” – is not only patronizing, but borders on othering us. The Lib Dems should be ashamed of themselves for using Muslims to promote themselves.

The campaign by Lib Dem Councilor Hina Bokhari dubbed the #LibDemIftar, is intended to raise funds for charities that tackle hunger in the U.K. From Ed Davey to Layla Moran, and local councilors, it seems they were all getting involved in the initiative – with Layla Moran claiming:

“I’ll be doing so in solidarity with the millions of Muslims throughout the world doing Ramadan during isolation. Remember: you are not alone and we will get through this together.” 

Well-intentioned it may be, but when did an Islamic practice become a means for the Lib Dems to raise money for charity? Have the Lib Dems converted to Islam? No. In fact, all they have done is shown solidarity to Muslims in so far as, “how much can we use their religion to raise money for charity and win them over?”

Photo by Red Frame OmaQ.org on Flickr.

One of the five pillars of Islam is fasting. It is an obligation to fast if you are able to do so, and it is fundamental to being Muslim. In the majority of cases, only children, the very elderly and those that are ill would not normally fast, as this would be considered an unreasonable strain on them. Other than that, it would be reasonable to expect the majority of Muslims to happily fast during Ramadan.

So, what kind of solidarity are the Lib Dems offering to Muslims? Absolutely nothing! This is nothing but a classic case of virtue signalling. Assuming that we are being oppressed somehow and therefore, “we share the pain you are going through”. I’m sorry, but that is simply not the case! Fasting is something nearly all Muslims have always done and it is not something that has been imposed or forced onto us. In fact, for many Muslims, the month of Ramadan is their favorite month of the year, because it is a time for them to reflect, become more spiritual and be closer to God.

But this virtue signaling went from bad to worse. Cambridge County Councilor Ian Manning posted a picture of his breakfast (since deleted).

The picture shows four boiled eggs and bacon. Ordinarily this would be a perfectly good breakfast, but not if you’re Muslim. This was a spectacularly fail and completely backfired on him. Manning was ridiculed and laughed at for this, with many tweeters pointing out that bacon is considered haram (forbidden) in Islam. If you’re going to show solidarity to Muslims by engaging in fasting, the last thing you should be doing is eating bacon and potentially alienating a mythical “Muslim vote”.

However, this embarrassment doesn’t stop there, no. In fact, Iftar (breaking the fast) has nothing to do with “breakfast”. What Manning presumably meant was the early morning meal which is known as suhoor. This just goes to show, not only are the Lib Dems out of touch with the electorate, but they can’t even get something as basic as this right. If the Lib Dems want to win the “Muslim vote”, then it might be worth doing a little bit of research into Islam before they pull a virtue signaling stunt like this.

But Manning, in responding to some tweeters engaged in something I consider quite sinister. He claimed “Muslims don’t ‘choose’ to be [SIC] muslim”. What does he mean by that? Presumably being Muslim is akin to being black, brown or white? But he is wrong!

No one is born Muslim and anyone can leave the religion if they choose to. This idea that I have to be Muslim because I don’t have a choice just highlights his toxic identity politics. What Manning appears to be peddling is that my identity is determined not by choice but by nature. If Manning wants to show solidarity to anyone, then he should be showing solidarity to the ex-Muslims that are persecuted for leaving the religion, not some weird liberal attempt as “feeling the pain Muslims feel when we fast”.

The Lib Dems have a lot to learn if they want to increase their vote share. Using Muslims and Islam is not one of them. We are not a community to be used as and when you please and for your own benefit. Nor are we compelled to be Muslims. We are Muslims because we choose to be. If the Lib Dems want to increase their vote share, then perhaps they should be thinking about improving their disastrous policies, rather than a virtue signaling stunt like this.


Photo by Devon Buchanan on Flickr. 

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