Lockerbie bombing police to visit Libya for first time

December 21, 2013

 

Following talks in Tripoli with Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan, David Cameron said officers from the Dumfries and Galloway force had been granted permission to travel to the country. “I am delighted that the Dumfries and Galloway Police team will be able to visit your country to look into the issues around the Lockerbie bombing,” he told a joint news conference.

Although police investigating the murder of WPc Yvonne Fletcher – who was killed by shots fired from the Libyan People’s Bureau in London in 1984 – have visited three times since the revolution in 2011, similar access had not previously been given to the Lockerbie team. The only person to have been convicted of the attack, Libyan agent Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, died last year of prostate cancer, having been released by the Scottish government on compassionate grounds after serving eight years of a life sentence.

Dumfries and Galloway Police want to investigate whether anyone else was involved in the attack, while the families of some of the victims remain convinced that it was nothing to do with Megrahi and he was an innocent man.

Two hundred and seventy people died when Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie on December 21 1988 – including all 259 people on board and 11 town residents – in what remains the UK’s worst terrorist atrocity.

In December last year, the Libyan administration said it was preparing to release all files relating to the bombing.

But Robert Forrester, secretary of the Justice for Megrahi campaign group, which wants an independent inquiry to look again at the conviction, dismissed the prospect of further investigations. “As far as I am concerned, the conviction was a gross miscarriage of justice and the efforts the police and Crown Office are making to locate other Libyans who may have colluded in the bringing down of Pan Am flight 103 amounts to little more than eye-wash,” he said.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/independentplus/indyplus-more-lockerbie-bombing-police-to-visit-libya-for-first-time-9020156.html

George Galloway criticizes veil ban in Westminster

9 December 2102

 

Renowned British lawmaker George Galloway has attacked new restrictions imposed on the wearing of the Muslim face-veil (Niqab) at the meeting place of the two houses of parliament, describing the move as an infringement on Muslim rights:

 

“Everyone understands the need to have proper security, but these rules seem a little heavy handed and confusing to me.”

 

British authorities have imposed new restrictions on the wearing of the Muslim veil at the Palace of Westminster. Under the new rules, niqab-wearing Muslims will be required to remove their face-veil.

 

There is amounting pressure from the public to outlaw the veil in public spaces. In September 2010, the Burnley College in Lancashire banned the Muslim face-veil on campus. A recent YouGov survey found that some 67 percent of Britons favor face-veils to be made illegal.

 

Firther, lawmaker Philip Hollobone has already tabled a bill in the parliament calling for Britain to follow France and outlaw the wearing of the face-veil in public.

UK Parties are trying to gain Muslim vote

23 July 2012

After the George Galloway’ historic victory of in Bradford by-elections British political parties have realized the significance of the Muslim vote and have been trying to gain support of Muslims. IN this regard, following Labor Leader Ed Miliband, Conservative Party Chair Baroness Warsi has visited the city to meet Muslim women.

Local Muslim Women’s Council members who were the organizers of the event challenged influential Muslim politician Baroness Warsi about immigration policy, education, the impact of cutbacks and austerity and the role Government has played in fuelling Islamophobia.

George Galloway Wins Bradford

March 2012

 

Bradford, which is host to a large Asian community, has been a Labour Party stronghold for 100 years. However, in the Bradford West by-election George Galloway, the outspoken British politician, gained a landslide victory against Labour’s Pakistani Muslim candidate Imran Hussain, thanks to the unwavering support of the Asian Muslim community.

 

The results were received as a blow to labour leader Ed Miliband who had been expected to capitalize on the double dip resection that hit hard on the UK economy. The results were also bad news for Tories as their vote went significantly down. Thus, it was considered to be a sign of dissatisfaction with the mainstream parties and, by some Islamphobic media, considered a source concern since they understood it as ‘Islamic extremism’ inauguration in British politics.

 

Galloway built his election strategy upon two issues: Occupation of Afghanistan, Palestine and the austerity policies, and called his victory a “Bradford Spring,” thus making a comparison to the popular uprisings taking place in Arab countries. He might seem to be going too far by comparing a Liberal democratic Britain to the oppressive dictatorial regimes of the Middle East, yet there might be some similarities between the two. Increasing unemployment, cost of living and discrimination have indeed frustrated the large working class Asian community of Bradford, especially the youth who have had to face uncertainty and alienation.

 

The following articles show how the British public and political parties who were appalled by the results try to understand what was behind the support of Galloway by the Muslim Asian community.

George Galloway’s election victory in Bradford continues to draw attention to the participation of Muslims in the British political system

14 May 2012

 

Bradford accommodates the third highest percentage of South Asians in the UK. So-called ‘Muslim votes’ make up 45% of the constituency’s population, and thus these votes are crucial for any political party that wants to score a victory in the elections.

 

Political experts were taken by surprise when George Galloway scored an undisputed victory in the elections for the vacant parliamentary seat of Bradford West in March, 2012. Galloway has always had close relations with the Muslim community but performed poorly in his own constituency and lost his seat in Bromley in 2010.

 

His recent victory has been considered an indication of Muslims’ dissatisfaction in the current performance of the mainstream political parties. This of course has some ground, since unemployment rates in parts of Bradford are almost four times higher than the national average and the number of pupils who progress to higher education are amongst the lowest in the country.

Labour ‘failed to connect with Asians in Bradford’

George Galloway has proved that he has the charisma, the celebrity and the message to appeal to the young, the disillusioned and the angry particularly in the Muslim community.

His victory is the first time an independent or smaller party candidate has won a parliamentary by-election from another party in Britain since March 1973, when Dick Taverne won the Lincoln by-election (taking it from Labour).

It is also the first time since the May 2000 Romsey by-election (when the Conservatives lost to the Lib Dems) that the main Opposition party has lost a seat in a by-election.

George Galloway’s victory in Bradford West was partly due to Labour’s failure to connect with the Asian community, the shadow home secretary has said. Yvette Cooper said her party had not won over young Asians or Muslim women.

Respect Party MP Mr Galloway, expelled by Labour in 2003, held a rally before 2,000 people on Sunday after winning Thursday’s by-election by 10,140 votes.

He said he had the support of people of all backgrounds in a “democratic uprising” against established parties.

Some speculate that these results show, by-elections are usually flashes in the pan that have no lasting effect on politics. After all, the SDP is no more, and the Lib Dems may have more than six seats today, but half a century on, having just lost their deposit in Bradford, they look no nearer to that elusive return to single party Government than they did before Orpington By-elections are a chance for angry voters to let off steam and vent their spleen on establishment parties, knowing their votes will not actually change a Government.
In taking Bradford West, Mr Galloway overturned a Labour majority of more than 5,000 at the 2010 general election.  He was previously MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in east London.

Commentators have suggested Mr Galloway attracted many Asian voters because of his opposition to the war in Iraq and his call for troops to withdraw from Afghanistan immediately.

But the Respect MP has rejected that, pointing out that Labour’s candidate was, in fact, a Muslim of Pakistani origin.

He told Sunday’s rally in Bradford that his 85% share of the vote in the city’s diverse university ward showed he had support of people of all races and religions.

Female Globe and Mail columnists reflect on wearing the burka in Afghanistan

Since The Globe and Mail daily newspaper began staffing its Afghanistan bureau full-time in 2006, it has sent a number of female news correspondents to the country. In light of the current controversy over Afghan women’s rights, this article features four journalists who reflect on their own experiences in the country. Jane Armstrong notes the invisibility of women in public spaces in Kandahar City; Christie Blatchford notes the hostility toward her presence in small villages in the countryside as she wore only a headscarf. Gloria Galloway claims, “The full-body veil is, after all, a constraining garment. Peripheral vision is eliminated and even the view straight ahead is hazy through the lace. It’s also hot and stuffy and awkward, with folds of fabric that catch in doors and wire fencing. But it provides security for both me and my fixer. And it sheds some light on how most women in southern Afghanistan experience the world outside their compounds.” The four journalists say nothing of the new family law on rape in marriage.

Galloway Triumphant As Blair Ally Punished At Polls Over Iraq; Blair Loyalist Beaten By Anti-Iraq War Candidate In Muslim-Dominated Seat

LONDON – Muslim voters delivered a stinging rebuke to British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Friday over the Iraq war, voting a loyal member of his Labour Party out of office in favour of an anti-war candidate. In a major upset, Blair loyalist Oona King — who strongly backed the March 2003 conflict supported by the prime minister — lost her Bethnal Green and Bow seat in east London to George Galloway from the left-wing Respect Party. “Mr Blair, this is for Iraq. All the people you killed, all the lies you told have come back to haunt you and and the best thing the Labour Party could do is sack you tomorrow morning as soon as they get back to work,” Galloway told cheering supporters following the announcement. Galloway, a former Labour deputy thrown out of the party for defying Blair over the war, specifically targeted King as her seat contains a high proportion of Muslim voters, mainly of Bangladeshi origin. King, who is half-Jewish and half-black, won her seat in 1997 at only 30 years of age and proved a popular local MP, winning a 10,000-vote majority in the 2001 election. However in Thursday’s election, she lost out of Galloway by just over 800 votes. Such a turnaround reflects the bitter feelings the Iraq war provoked in many British Muslims, as well as a fearsome campaign by Galloway. The election battle between King and Galloway, a flamboyant political veteran known as “gorgeous George”, was perhaps the most bitter individual fight in the entire election. King accused Respect activists of spreading word among the 40-percent Muslim district that she was Jewish to hurt her chances, something Galloway’s officials vehemently denied. Unknown attackers threw eggs at King at a Holocaust memorial service, and she was later again pelted with eggs and had her car tires slashed by a gang of youths protesting her support for the Iraq war. Galloway also placed himself under heightened security after being threatened with death by a group of Islamic extremists. Blair has acknowledged that Britons remain divided over the conflict, but on Friday said that he felt they wanted to “move on” and look toward the future. The vote results indicate otherwise, countered the Liberal Democrats, pointing to the “significant impact” the party had on battles across the country, where its candidates often gained in the popular vote although they did not win. “I attribute some of that to the anti-war platform, but our other policies have also played a significant role,” said deputy party president Fiyaz Mughal. “In areas where there are higher minority populations, which will primarily vote for us because of Iraq, you’re having major swings,” Mughal said, pointing to areas like immigrant-heavy Hornsey and Wood Green, north London, where the Liberal Democrat candidate overcame a gap of more than 12,000 votes to oust a Labour incumbent. “There is clearly a lot of disaffection among British Muslims about the Iraq war, the application of draconian anti-terror laws and the manner in which sections of the media have used sensationalism to stigmatize our entire community,” Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the umbrella organization the Muslim Council of Britain, said in a statement. The council, which had urged the country’s 1.6 million Muslims to vote, said the results showed that Iraq had clearly become a “mainstream concern”. Analysts said the Iraq question affected non-Muslim voters by undermining Blair’s trustworthiness. The premier “lost the public relations war,” Chris Brown at the London School of Economics said. Still, several direct challenges to Labour heavyweights over Iraq failed, including a contest in Blair’s home constituency of Sedgefield, northern England by Reg Keys, the father of a soldier who died in Iraq in June 2003. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also beat off challenges in his closely-watched race in Blackburn, near Manchester in northwest England, where 25 percent of the voters are Muslim.