Anas Sarwar reveals toll Islamophobia has taken on his family

The Scottish Labour leader discussed why he remains in politics despite the racism he has experienced.

Rebecca McCurdy
Saturday 17 February 2024 19:11 GMT
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar alongside his wife Furheen after his speech at the Scottish Labour Party conference. (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar alongside his wife Furheen after his speech at the Scottish Labour Party conference. (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

Anas Sarwar has revealed his wife has cried herself to sleep over racism the family has faced by being in the public eye.

The Scottish Labour leader told a conference fringe event he will feel like he has failed as a politician if future generations do not notice an improvement in racial inequality.

In his conference speech on Friday, Mr Sarwar spoke about tackling discrimination against all races and religions groups.

Mr Sarwar previously addressed the Islamophobia his father Mohammed received as Britain’s first Muslim MP.

He has often recounted one of his first encounters with racism – discovering an envelope on the family doormat with mocked-up images inside of his mother tied to a chair with two guns pointed at her head.

His mother Perveen, he said, used to cry herself to sleep at the prejudice facing the family.

Now, during an in conversation event with Holyrood Magazine, he revealed his own wife Furheen had sleepless nights over the abuse.

Asked whether his wife had been through a similar experience, he said: “I know she does, or I know she has.”

But he shared hopes that when his eldest son Adam, now 15, had his own children he would notice a change.

If those kids – my one-day grandkids – think that the world has been less equal and less fairer when they’re his age I will feel as if I, and us and his generation, has absolutely failed them

Anas Sarwar

He said: “When I think about the inequality and poverty we see in our country, where it’s on the rise, where that dream that every parent has had – I know my parents had and I have for my own children – that the generation that has followed is going to have more opportunities, it’s going to be a safer world, a more equal world.

“I think it’s felt in the last 10 years that that’s gone in reverse and therefore I do think its worth it because one of the things I can’t escape from – and it’s probably a political value that’s been instilled from me by my mum – is that I will honestly, when Adam’s son, I hope one day is the same age as he is now and (Adam) is the same age as me, if those kids – my one-day grandkids – think that the world has been less equal and less fairer when they’re his age I will feel as if I, and us and his generation, has absolutely failed them.

“I don’t want that to happen.”

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