UK: Faith leaders join calls to celebrate Windrush significance on 75th anniversary
By Hamed Chapman
London, (The Muslim News): Faith leaders have joined a chorus of UK voices from the arts, politics and business to faith, civil society and sport in highlighting the 75th anniversary of Windrush this year as a ‘Diamond Jubilee for modern, diverse Britain.’
Among many others, the Bishop of Dover Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Imam Qari Asim of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board and Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews expressed their support Tuesday for making 2023 a key moment in Britain’s history of immigration.
They were joined by representatives of the NHS, FA, English Cricket Board, senior business figures and culture-makers in speaking out about why celebrating the 75th anniversary of when the Windrush generation started to arriving in the UK and take up their right to settle in the country by virtue of having been born in a British colony under the 1948 Nationality Act.
“The Windrush connects Britain with the Commonwealth, and so for many Muslims from a South Asian or African background, it symbolises our ancestry and the family stories of those who first came to the UK,” said Imam Qari Asim of Makkah Masjid, Leeds.
“Seventy-five years on, it’s a chance to celebrate the tremendous Commonwealth contribution to Britain, the roots we have put down and the bonds of community built up over the generations,” he said.
Marie van der Zyl said that Windrush was celebrated “not only because of the national pride and positive story of immigration and diversity that it represents – we celebrate its story of unshakeable hope, perseverance and redemption.” Windrush, she said, was “not just a powerful moment in our nation’s past. Windrush is a hopeful vision of our nation’s future.”
The Bishop of Dover said the Windrush pioneers and those who followed have made such a contribution to our communities, our congregations and wider British society over the last 75 years.
It was “only right that the Church celebrates the Windrush anniversary this year,” she said.
New polling for the Windrush 75 network found that 6 in 10 people in Britain (61%) agree that ‘Britain owes a great deal to the Windrush generation of migrants and should recognise their contribution as part of our national story.’
Respondents also wanted the history taught in schools with a further further 6 in 10 (62%) agreeing that ‘The arrival of Windrush is a key moment in Britain’s history of migration and change. It is important for integration today that all of our children are taught about the shared history of a multi-ethnic Britain.’
Patrick Vernon, Convenor of the Windrush 75 network, said the anniversary was “like a Diamond Jubilee for modern, diverse Britain. We are celebrating four generations of contribution, legacy, struggle and positive change. And it is a moment to look to the future too, at how we address the challenges to come.”
Historian David Olusoga said the arrival of the Windrush is a pivotal moment in black history and British history. “We see its legacy every day, when we turn on the radio or TV, walk down the High Street or cheer for England at the World Cup. So it’s important that the anniversary is marked in a significant way and that everyone is invited to take part,” he said.
The Windrush 75 network aims to make 2023 a year of celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the Windrush. Everybody is invited to take part. The network aims to help broaden public recognition of the contribution of the original Windrush Pioneers, as well as increasing public understanding of the history of race and migration to Britain across the decades.
In the background to the anniversary, repercussions remain from a political scandal over the Windrush generation that started in 2018 concerning people who were wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, and in at least over 80 cases wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office.
[Photo: HMT Empire Windrush ship. Photo by Royal Navy official photographer/ Public Domain]
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