Tuesday (5 July) is the start of the Muslim festival of Eid, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. This is a time of huge celebrations for British Muslims and for those of us living in the larger cities and towns with large Muslim populations, this year will be no different. However, for those Muslims living in smaller numbers around the country one word casts a dark shadow over celebrations – Brexit, more importantly the racial tensions following last month's vote.
An Eid festival due to take place this week in East Park, Southampton, was cancelled after fears that far-right group South Coast Resistance (also known as the Pie And Mash Squad) would protest.
Shere Sattar, chairman of the British Bangladesh Cultural Academy, the group organising the Eid festival, said: "We have considered the political situation and unrest in UK after leaving the EU, the rise of racist activity and comments around other cities around the country, and Pie and Mash Squad deciding to visit Southampton.
"We the British Bangladeshi Cultural Academy with other organisations have decided that for the good for all communities in our city it would be best if we cancel the huge gathering in the city park for Eidul Fitre prayer.'
It saddens my heart that the country I was born in and one that prides itself on multiculturalism is becoming so disunited right before our eyes and in such a short space of time. On one hand it's very noble that the festival was cancelled in order for the greater good of all communities, but it's rather worrying that a religious minority community has to sacrifice one of its major annual celebrations out of fear of protest. Now should be the best time to show our country's diversity in the face of adversity.
The last fortnight has seen a significant rise in hate crimes towards LGBT communities, European communities and Black and Asian minority communities. In the four days following the referendum, police recorded a 57% increase in hate crime complaints. This led to leaders of Britain's main faith communities uniting in order to speak out against intolerance. The Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, the Catholic archbishop of Westminster, the chief rabbi and senior imams all condemned this growing hatred.
Brexit has opened up a huge can of worms which if not contained could hamper British values of self-expression, free speech and inclusion.
Tell MAMA also reported that incidents of anti-Muslim abuse and attacks in public areas of the UK rose by 326% in 2015. The monitoring group said women were disproportionately targeted by mostly teenage perpetrators, and far-right extremist groups and supporters were promoting hatred of Muslims on social media.
As a person of colour, I do feel an absolute sense of division, fear and intolerance around me and this is manifesting in a modern era of racism. Brexit has opened up a huge can of worms which if not contained could hamper British values of self-expression, free speech and inclusion, all of which are currently under attack. Rather than hiding away and submitting to fear, now is the time for minority voices to speak louder than ever, report hate crime and take pride in our identities as long time or new immigrants.
Today, the Conservatives whittle their leadership candidates down before deciding the two front runners on July 7. The future prime minister not only has the formidable task of guiding us through Brexit, but also uniting a broken country full of divided communities and opinions.