Redbridge Commonwealth communities divided over EU referendum

PUBLISHED: 13:00 08 June 2016

Bashir Chaudhry. Photo credit: Paul Bennett

Bashir Chaudhry. Photo credit: Paul Bennett


Bashir Chaudhry remembers clearly the last European Union (EU) referendum in 1975. “I voted against it then, and I will do so again,” he said passionately.

Mankamal Singh - Gurdwara Singh Sabha Seven KingsMankamal Singh - Gurdwara Singh Sabha Seven Kings

Mr Chaudhry, chairman of the League of British Muslims, based in Eton Road, Ilford, wants Great Britain to leave the EU and reassert its links with the Commonwealth, an argument made by Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

“Great Britain throughout its lifetime has been a leader in the world,” Mr Chaudhry said.

“A leader of the Commonwealth, of the Middle East, of Africa. We do not need Europe when we have got our own strength, the EU puts to much pressure on us.”

But not everyone shares Mr Chaudhry’s view of the Commonwealth.

Redbridge based editor of Curry Life magazine Syed Ahmed. with his wife Taslima Akhter, and son Samuel Ahmed.Redbridge based editor of Curry Life magazine Syed Ahmed. with his wife Taslima Akhter, and son Samuel Ahmed.

Mankamal Singh, of the Singh Sabha Gurdwara, in High Road, Seven Kings, said he had more of an affinity with his community than the Empire.

“Someone like me born in Britain, a second generation immigrant, I’m looking to see what will benefit my local area first of all.”

Mr Singh told the Recorder he was voting to remain in the EU as he is “a big believer in the benefits of globalisation and working together”.

Syed Ahmed, editor of Curry Life magazine, the industry’s biggest trade publication, is firmly in favour of staying.

Mr Ahmed, of Keswick Gardens, Redbridge, dismissed claims that Brexit would lead to better links with the Commonwealth and help an ailing curry industry.

“If they wanted to they can make a change now, it has nothing to do with the EU.”

The government’s new salary requirement for visas for chefs from the subcontinent is £35,000, which is causing a crisis amongst restaurants.

Mr Ahmed continued: “How can I trust people like Nigel Farage saying he is a friend of immigrants, he scaremongers against immigrants.”

These are excerpts of interviews. For the full feature see tomorrow’s Recorder.

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