Politics was a completely taboo subject for me as a young boy. Having lived almost all my life in Brunei and Qatar – two very strict, theocratic autocracies – I was cautious to keep my opinions well-guarded. The smallest negative remark about either country’s governance, for example, would’ve meant deportation for my family and I. Any non-approved political activity, no matter how naïve, had to be kept a secret. It was best not to question at all.
It was both shocking and welcoming, then, to come back to England (voluntarily, I might add) in 2015 and discover a completely free and diverse political atmosphere. In fact, I loved it. I was present at as many debates as there were arguments to be had. The threat of deportation was no longer there. This freedom to think was what motivated me to do a degree in History, and encouraged my interest in politics.
My experience has taught me to constantly question everything, and to fight against the torrents of illiberalism that sway most of the world, even in Britain. It was saddening to still see rife Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism in the 2019 General Election, on both sides of the House of Commons. It made me realise that tolerance, now more than ever, was necessary.
I have travelled across the political spectrum, from unregulated Capitalism to Anarcho-Communism. Yet, I find my roots are in liberalism, which tells me to question everything, and consider every option. After all, the worst thing I could imagine is an echo-chamber – a terrible reminder of what I had escaped.