'Remember how no one got blown up at London 2012? I did that!' Comedian Tez Ilyas is referring to his Civil Service role on the Olympic security team. But he likes to leave no unmentionable unmentioned during his show Made in Britain.
Today Ilyas has left office life to pursue a career in comedy. His set explores what it means to be a British Muslim - in a post-Brexit period when anyone considered an outsider finds themselves living under an unprecedentedly critical spotlight.
Such hostility leads to long-term impacts on health and welfare. UK figures show that people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi descent experience much higher levels of some diseases, with scientists identifying experiences of racism and discrimination as crucial issues.
Nonetheless, recent opinion has shifted blame for community woes to minorities themselves. Ilyas gives short shrift to the former head of the Racial Equality Commission, Trevor Phillips, whose warning that Muslims were 'failing to integrate' played easily into the hands of a scaremongering press.
Ironically, it was the tragic Paris attacks that provided Ilyas with his first media break, a spot on BBC Radio 4's The Now Show that propelled him towards his current recognition. Now, he seems determined to use the limelight to highlight big issues that resonate individually with those who share a similar upbringing - but make everyone laugh.
Large families, parental pressures and arranged marriages are all personal experiences he chooses to talk about in this show – but llyas does not assume he is a spokesperson for the Asian community - indeed, he says there isn’t just one British Asian community. But his voice is significant in a country where research shows that direct and indirect racism damage children’s development, in ways that shape their entire lives. (RM)
Made In Britain ran at Pleasance Courtyard until August 28th - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/tez-ilyas-made-in-britain
Hate crime following the referendum: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/brexit-eu-referendum-racial-racism-abuse-hate-crime-reported-latest-leave-immigration-a7104191.html
Research by Yvonne Kelly, Professor of Lifecourse Epidemiology at UCL, into the impact of racial discrimination on child health: http://childofourtimeblog.org.uk/tag/racism/
PDF on UCL research into ethnicity and health: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/icls/publications/bn/ethnicity
Coverage of Trevor Phillips’ remarks about the Muslim community failing to integrate: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/10/uk-muslim-ghettoes-warning/
Has multiculturalism failed in the UK? Not really: article by Professor Anthony Heath: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/10/multiculturalism-uk-research