20 May 2019
You don't see many Muslims in English pubs. Photo: Bloomberg
You don't see many Muslims in English pubs. Photo: Bloomberg

Pubs closing because Muslims don’t drink, British lord says

A British lord who blamed “socioeconomic factors” including a growing number of Muslims, who don’t drink alcohol, for the decline in the number of pubs has brewed up a storm in a pint jug.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, who used to be a director of a brewery, told the House of Lords: “In areas of Nottingham, Leicester, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, the increase in the Muslim population who don’t drink leads to many pub closures.

“It is exceptionally hard for a publican who has put 10 years of his life into trying to build up a business to accept the inevitability of these tides of history.”

The Independent quoted Fiyaz Mughal, the director of Faith Matters, an interfaith and anti-extremist organisation, as saying: “It is quite ridiculous to blame Muslims for the closure of pubs when, in fact, the consumption and marketing of alcohol has also changed over time.

“What is also clear is that some pubs have been successful and others have not been able to generate customers and clients.”

Mughal, who runs the Tell Mama helpline for reporting anti-Muslim attacks, said: “To blame Muslims for this is ridiculous and also assumes that all Muslims do not drink. Some do and still regard themselves as Muslims, so the issue is far more complex than this banal statement.”

Nasima Begum from the Muslim Council of Britain agreed.

She told the newspaper: “It is surprising and disappointing for Lord Hodgson to scapegoat Muslims for the failure of his business.

“What next? Muslims to be blamed for a fall in pork scratchings sales? We have come to a stage where it is easy for those in prominent positions to make their points at the expense of Muslims.” 

However, Birmingham activist Wahid Anwar, a member of the Islamic Society of Britain, supported Hodgson.

He said: “I don’t think he was ‘blaming’ Muslims. He was pointing out a socioeconomic factor. As you are no doubt aware, drinking alcohol is forbidden in Islam. That is not to say that there are no Muslims who drink, but they generally refrain from doing so in such public establishments.”

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