Originally published in The Times on Wednesday 12 January 2022.
My much-loved mum died of Covid-19 in March 2020, in the early days of the pandemic. She died in her hospital bed, alone. Unable to be at her bedside, all I could do was sit in the car park outside to be as close to her as I could.
My mum meant the world to me, and her sudden death was and remains immensely painful.
Less than a year later, my family would suffer through this all over again when my mother-in-law and father-in-law contracted Covid and died within two days of one another.
Even burdened by our grief, my family obeyed the rules while the prime minister drank wine with his friends, enjoyed cheese nibbles, and enjoyed the summer sun.
For bereaved families up and down the country the recent revelations about the party held in Downing Street on May 20 last year have brought to the surface again the grief, anger and pain of the last two years.
Burying my mum during lockdown meant we were unable to grieve in the traditional Islamic way. I could not grieve with my aunts and uncles, or my brothers and sisters. I could not grieve with my friends. And I could not grieve for my mum with the local community that loved her.
Just three days after the Downing Street party, British Muslims marked Eid-al-Fitr and the end of Ramadan. This holy festival is usually a joyous occasion with large celebrations and feasts that bring together families across the community.
We have all made sacrifices to observe the rules. On Tuesday May 19, Matt Hancock, who was the health secretary, told the public to “follow the rules during Eid and adapt celebrations to fit with social distancing”.
I did as I was told, like millions of others. For the first time in my life, I marked Eid without my mum and I did not attend the mosque. Instead, I stayed at home.
With each day and each revelation, not only is the hypocrisy at the heart of this government laid bare for all to see, but bereaved families are forced to confront their grief all over again.
The prime minister told us we were all in this together and that we must follow the rules to save lives, while he partied with his chums. Despite the lies and half-truths, the British public know they are being taken for a ride.
The prime minister is running scared, cowering in No 10, while sending his ministers out to defend the indefensible. Bereaved families deserve better.