Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

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Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.jpg
Yasmin Damji

(1949-12-10) 10 December 1949 (age 69)
OccupationJournalist, author
Notable credit(s)
Independent and Evening Standard columnist

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (née Damji; born 10 December 1949) is a British journalist and author, who describes herself as "a leftie liberal, anti-racist, feminist, Muslim".[1] A regular columnist for the i and the London Evening Standard,[2] she is a well-known commentator on immigration, diversity, and multiculturalism issues.[3][4]

She is a founding member of British Muslims for Secular Democracy.[5] She is also a patron of the SI Leeds Literary Prize.[6]

Early life and family[edit]

Alibhai-Brown was born in 1949 into the Ugandan Asian community in Kampala.[7][8] Her family belonged to the Nizari branch[9] of the Shia Islamic faith,[10] and she identifies as a Shia Muslim.[11] Her mother was born in East Africa and her father moved there from British India in the 1920s.[12]

After graduating in English literature from Makerere University in 1972, Alibhai-Brown left Uganda for Britain, along with her niece, Farah Damji, shortly before the expulsion of Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin,[9] and completed a Master of Philosophy degree in literature at Linacre College, University of Oxford, in 1975.[2] After working as a teacher, particularly with immigrants and refugees, she moved into journalism in her mid-thirties.[9] She is married to Colin Brown, chairman of the Consumer Services Panel of the Financial Services Authority.[12] The couple have a daughter, and Alibhai-Brown has a son from a previous marriage.[7]

Career and views[edit]

A journalist on the New Statesman magazine in the early 1980s, Alibhai-Brown contributes a weekly column to The Independent.[13] She has also written for The Guardian, The Observer, The New York Times, Time magazine, Newsweek, and the Daily Mail,[14] and has appeared on the current affairs TV shows Dateline London and The Wright Stuff. Alibhai-Brown has won awards for her journalism, including Media Personality of the Year in 2000 (awarded by the Ethnic Multicultural Media Academy (EMMA)), the George Orwell Prize for Political Journalism in 2002, and the EMMA Award for Journalism in 2004.[2]

Alibhai-Brown was a research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a think tank associated with New Labour, from 1996 to 2001.[15] She ended her connection with the Labour Party over the 2003 war in Iraq and other issues, and supported the Liberal Democrats in the 2005 and 2010 general elections.[16][17] She is senior research associate at the Foreign Policy Centre,[18] an honorary fellow at Liverpool John Moores University,[14] and honorary visiting professor at Cardiff[2] and Lincoln[14] Universities.

In the New Year Honours 2001, Alibhai-Brown was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) "for services to journalism".[19] In 2003 Benjamin Zephaniah's public refusal of an OBE inspired her to return the award. She wrote that her decision had been made partly in a growing spirit of republicanism and partly in protest at the Labour government, particularly its conduct of the war in Iraq,[20] and has since criticised the British honours system as "beyond repair".[21]

In May 2011, Alibhai-Brown wrote in The Independent that Muslims and others should stop focusing solely on the wrongdoings of Israel, saying that "We Muslims need to accept our burdens too." She also said that, "It is no longer morally justifiable for activists to target only Israel and either ignore or find excuses for corrupt, murderous Arab despots. That kind of selectivity discredits pro-Palestinian campaigners and dishonours the principles of equality and human rights."[22] Brown previously condemned ethnic minority campaigners against racism failing to mention white victims of racially motivated crimes, suggesting they were guilty of double standards. Highlighting cases such as the murder of Ross Parker, Alibhai-Brown wrote: "Our values are worthless unless all victims of these senseless deaths matter equally", adding "to treat some victims as more worthy of condemnation than others is unforgivable and a betrayal of anti-racism itself".[23][24]

In May 2012, Alibhai-Brown received an anonymous three-page letter alleging that veteran BBC presenter Stuart Hall had sexually abused the writer while she was a schoolgirl in the 1970s. After Alibhai-Brown passed the letter to police, an investigation was initiated, culminating in Hall being arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual assault. On 16 April 2013, Hall pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting 13 girls, aged from nine to 17, during the period 1967–86. The police credited Alibhai-Brown's actions as instrumental in triggering an investigation into Hall's past.[25]

In 2016 Alibhai-Brown won the Columnist of the Year Broadsheet at the British Press Awards.[26]


Alibhai-Brown has attracted criticism for her views. Michael Wharton has accused her of an excessive pursuit of political correctness: "At 3.6 degrees on the Alibhai-Brown scale, it sets off a shrill scream that will not stop until you’ve pulled yourself together with a well-chosen anti-racist slogan."[27]

Stephen Pollard accused her of racism and called her opinions "utterly vile" in The Jewish Chronicle in June 2008.[28] In October 2009, Luciana Berger, M.P. and then director of Labour Friends of Israel, criticised Alibhai-Brown for writing in her column: "All three parties were lavishly entertained by the over-influential Friends of Israel." Berger said that Alibhai-Brown had not attended the LFI event or provided any evidence to sustain her comment. Berger insisted the hospitality ("house wine or orange juice and chips. Crisps and peanuts if you got to a bowl in time") was not lavish.[29]

Select bibliography[edit]

  • The Colour of Love: Mixed Race Relationships (with Anne Montague) (1992). London: Virago. ISBN 1-85381-221-8
  • Racism (Points of View), (with Colin Brown) (1992). Hodder Wayland. ISBN 1-85210-651-4
  • No Place Like Home (1995). London: Virago. ISBN 1-85381-642-6
  • True Colours (1999). London: Institute for Public Policy Research. ISBN 1-86030-083-9
  • Who Do We Think We Are? Imagining the New Britain (2000). London: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-025598-2
  • After Multiculturalism (2000). London: Foreign Policy Centre. ISBN 0-9535598-8-2
  • Mixed Feelings: The Complex Lives of Mixed Race Britons (2001). London: Women's Press. ISBN 0-7043-4706-7
  • Some of My Best Friends Are... (2004). London: Politico's. ISBN 1-84275-107-7
  • In Defence of Political Correctness (2018). Biteback Publishing. ISBN 978-1785904141


  1. ^ Alibhai Brown, Yasmin (10 January 2011). "Jack Straw is right to ask hard questions about Asian men". The Independent.
  2. ^ a b c d "Yasmin Alibhai-Brown". Cardiff University. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  3. ^ McDonagh, Melanie (23 October 2000). "The New Statesman Profile – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown". New Statesman. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  4. ^ Smallman, Etan (4 December 2006). "Independent Woman". Epigram. Retrieved 20 April 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  5. ^ Ahmad, Imran (1 May 2008). "Representing ourselves better". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  6. ^ Patrons Archived 13 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine, SI Leeds Literary Prize.
  7. ^ a b Alibhai-Brown, Yasmin (26 September 2008). "Love in Your Fifties". Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  8. ^ "Ms Yasmin Alibhai-Brown Authorised Biography". Debrett's People of Today. Debrett's. 10 December 1949. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  9. ^ a b c Chatterjee, Sonali Jha (17 February 2007). "Ismailis in the News: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Writer and Journalist". Ismaili Mail. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  10. ^ Alibhai-Brown, Yasmin (31 August 2003). "The suffering of Shia Muslims is heartbreaking". The Independent. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  11. ^ Alibhai-Brown, Yasmin (13 July 2009). "Wearing the burqa is neither Islamic nor socially acceptable". The Independent. London. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  12. ^ a b Golding, Rosalind (21 January 2001). "A Nest Egg – What's That Then?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  13. ^ "Yasmin Alibhai-Brown". The Independent. London.
  14. ^ a b c Alibhai-Brown, Yasmin. "Who Am I?". Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  15. ^ "Shaping Interculturalism in Youthwork – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown". Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  16. ^ Alibhai-Brown, Yasmin (3 May 2005). "Vote Liberal Democrat, Get Left-wing Activists". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  17. ^ "In conversation with... Yasmin Alibhai-Brown". Total Politics. 5 May 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  18. ^ "Foreign Policy Centre: Staff". Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  19. ^ "No. 56070". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 30 December 2000. pp. 15–15.
  20. ^ Alibhai-Brown, Yasmin (1 December 2003). "Why I Have Decided to Give Back My Gong". The Independent. London. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  21. ^ Alibhai-Brown, Yasmin (19 June 2006). "These Shameless Honours Dishonour Us All". The Independent. London. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  22. ^ Alibhai-Brown, Yasmin (2 May 2011). "Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Stop blaming Israel for every grievance in the Middle East". The Independent. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  23. ^ Alibhai Brown, Yasmin (26 October 2006). "When the victim is white, does anyone care?". Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  24. ^ Alibhai-Brown, Yasmin (3 February 2003). "Black racism is every bit as bad as white racism". The Independent. London. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  25. ^ Alibhai-Brown, Yasmin (3 May 2012). "How I exposed Stuart Hall's sex abuse: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on the letter that kick-started the investigation". The Independent. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  26. ^ Ltd, Magstar. "Press Awards". www.pressawards.org.uk. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  27. ^ cited in "Michael Wharton". The Times. London. 25 January 2006. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  28. ^ Pollard, Stephen (2 June 2008). "Yasmin Alibhai-Brown Is a Disgrace". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  29. ^ Elgot, Jessica (14 October 2009). "Independent columnist slammed by LFI". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 24 September 2014.

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