A former activist in the radical Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir has been chosen to fight a marginal parliamentary seat for the Liberal Democrats. Maajid Nawaz renounced his past and called for a “secular Islam” six years ago, helping to set up the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think-tank. He was selected to contest the north London constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn, a three-way marginal currently held by Labour’s Glenda Jackson with a majority of just 42. Mr Nawaz, who is 35, said: I am looking forward to running for public office. Quilliam will remain a priority for me because its values shape my beliefs and outlook.”
British Muslims are abandoning their traditional support for Gordon Brown’s Labour party and instead look set to back Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats in this week’s election, community organizers have found.
A poll of British Muslims conducted last week found that almost three-quarters of respondents believed the Liberal Democrats offered fairer policies than either the Labour or Conservative parties.
YouElect, a non-partisan grass-roots campaign aimed at persuading British Muslims to vote, polled 940 Muslims from four cities over the days running up to the country’s final televised leaders’ debate last Thursday.
This article advocates the best possible option for Muslims when voting in the General Election, which the author claims to be the Liberal Democrats, for reasons of fairness. “I believe the Liberal Democrats are the only party that will truly make Britain fair, not just for Muslims, but for everyone in Britain today.” The author Farid Ahmed is a Muslim and a Liberal candidate himself for Walthamstow, London.
The author further summarizes how Labour has failed in the past 13 years to make Britain more just, and how the Conservatives are not to be trusted to move the country in any such direction. Also Britain’s policies towards the Middle East play a large role in the author’s preference for the Liberal Democrat Party.
At least 80 Muslim candidates of various political persuasions are involved in a spectrum of intriguing contests for parliamentary seats around the country. The chances are that up to 15 could be elected, although more realistically it is likely to double up from four in 2005.
The outcome in the elections, which are going to be the closest for decades and includes so many uncertain factors, is likely to see both the first Muslim women MPs that could help more than double Labour numbers and the first Muslim Tory members in the House of Commons. In the frame with outside chances are also a couple of Liberal Democrats and different Respect candidates among many others who are in un-winnable seats.
Labour has no less than seven Muslims, including three women, defending seats, the Conservatives one and another selected to capture the Party’s number one target seat in Gillingham and Rainham. Respect also has chosen a Muslim candidate in Bethnal Green and Bow to stand instead of George Galloway, who is seeking re-election in the newly created Poplar and Limehouse next door. But Abjol Miah faces the unique challenge of Muslim rivals selected by all three main parties in the most populous Muslim constituency.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats has promised he will fight against anti-Muslim discrimination perpetrated by the government and the police in many guises.
Riding high in the opinion polls and looking set to be a potential kingmaker after the 6th May election, Nick Clegg told this newspaper exclusively that his party was completely against the anti-Muslim prejudice at all levels and will campaign to end the discrimination that hurts Muslim communities, from restricting stop and search, to scrapping control orders, to getting innocent people off the DNA database.
“We’re also pushing for changes to reduce discrimination against Muslims in the work place, including anonymous job application forms and pay audits to make sure people aren’t being paid unfairly,” Clegg said, who whop has seen his star rise in the last few weeks in a way unseen in the modern political history.
Salma Yaqoob is one of the most prominent Muslim woman in British public life. She wears a headscarf, a powerful symbol of a faith she has accommodated with her passionate left-wing politics. She is standing as a candidate for the tiny and fractured Respect Party.
In some streets around the new constituency of Hall Green in Birmingham, her poster is on every window. Since her narrow defeat for Westminster in 2005, she has built up support through her work as a local councilor, as well as building a national profile through her appearances on BBC’s Question Time.
Yaqoob was wooed by Labour after 2005. She acknowledges that “My values are traditional Labour, but New Labour has gone to the right”. She was even courted by the Liberal Democrats and the Tories, a tribute to her rare capacity for fair-minded plain speaking, most evident in her Question Time appearance earlier this year, at Wootton Bassett, when she earned respect for her handling of questions about British soldiers killed in Afghanistan, a war she opposes.
Yaqoob is well aware that she is a challenge to traditional Muslim political culture – not just because she is a woman, but because she is not afraid to speak her mind.
Jack Straw, Britain’s Justice Secretary, wrote a letter of introduction for his friend and political ally, Lord Patel of Blackburn, who persuaded the emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani, to spend £1.5m, half the total needed to build the five-story mosque.
Liberal Democrats in Blackburn, Mr. Straw’s constituency, claimed the Labour party had used the donation to the Bicknell Street mosque in order to garner votes from local Muslims.
Haras Rafiq, co-founder of the Sufi Muslim council, said large foreign donors expected mosques to reflect their beliefs, and this was squeezing out moderate Muslims. “This has been a huge problem for the last decade. Some of the biggest mosques and institutions in the UK have been funded by foreign money and have been proven to be portraying extremist viewpoints.
The Emir of Qatar has an image as a pro-western reformist and modernizer and his country is the base for a significant US military presence. However, Qatar has also provided aid to Hamas and offered support to the extremist Muslim Brotherhood and to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan who has been indicted for war crimes in Darfur.
Over 800 people celebrated the ninth Annual The Muslim News Awards for Excellence — Britain’s longest standing Muslim awards event — Monday at London’s Grosvenor House. The coveted award ceremony recognised the very best of Muslim contribution to British society.
The special Judges award went to Birmingham-based graffiti artist Mohammed Ali. Other awards were distributed for all kinds of social commitment, including “fair, accurate and balanced reporting on an issue involving Muslims”, health, sports, arts, enterprise, good citizenship or community development. Winners were musician and oud-player Ahmed Mukhtar, Reverend Gilleasbuig MacMillan of Edinburgh, the Black and Asian Service in Alcohol and Narcotics (BASIAN) and 15-year-old Imran Sidat, who competes for England in freestyle karate and kickboxing, among many others.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was present at the ceremony, as were Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve and Liberal Democrats Leader Nick Clegg, along with an audience of 800 invitees. The editor of the Muslim News, Ahmed Versi was pleased with the ceremony and believes the awards show how much British Muslims can contribute to the common good.
Plans to extend Harehills Cemetery to provide more Muslim burial spaces have been rejected by Liberal Democrat councillors as too costly. They are now calling for spaces for Muslim burials to be provided at a new cemetery planned for Whinmoor Grange. An extension at Harehills would cost an estimated _2,000 per burial plot compared to just _20 per plot at Whinmoor Grange, say the Liberal Democrats. Coun Richard Brett (Lib Dem, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill), Liberal Democrat group leader, said the idea of extending Harehills should be scrapped. He said: “We have already rejected the previous administration’s plans for a massive 46 acre site at Whinmoor as we believe that a series of smaller sites for a all faiths around the city would better suit the city’s needs. “I am proposing that the best way forward for all parties is for a new multi-faith site at Whinmoor Grange. A specific area of this ought to be reserved for the Muslim community.” The need to find more burial space in Leeds has been a growing issue in recent years and a lack of burial provision for Muslims is a particularly pressing aspect of the problem.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=E998C97AFB69483D270CB929&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News
Poll: Blow For The Government Labour’s support among Britain’s ethnic minority voters has fallen, according to a new survey. It now stands at 58 per cent, down from 75 per cent in 2001. The Guardian/ICM poll published on Monday confirms earlier polls showing that Muslim voters in particular have defected from Labour in the wake of the Iraq war. Labour’s support has halved among Muslims, declining from 75 per cent to 38 per cent since 2001. The poll finds some ethnic groups have stayed loyal to Labour with 74 per cent of black people and 61 per cent of those of Indian-origin saying they will vote for the party. Support for Labour is lowest among people of mixed race, at 42 per cent it is more in line with the wider electorate. The Liberal Democrats, on 23 per cent, firmly push the Conservatives into third place as far as support from Britain’s ethnic minority groups is concerned. The Tories only register backing from 14 per cent of ethnic minority voters. Wider Findings The poll found that only 39 per cent of ethnic minority voters see themselves as “fully British”, regardless of how long they have lived here, and more than half say they have been a victim of name-calling or verbal abuse. One in five ethnic minority voters say they have considered leaving Britain because of racial intolerance. Nearly half say that when they hear people talking about immigrants they think they mean them, regardless of how long they have been in Britain. On a more positive note, the survey found higher than expected levels of trust in the police, health and education authorities to treat them fairly. The poll was undertaken to highlight the needs and experiences of Britain’s ethnic minority voters, and their relevance to the coming election campaign as Labour seeks a third term.