Number of Muslim MPs doubles in British general election

The number of Muslim MPs has doubled to eight in the closest elections in decades and saw the first three Muslim women — all Labour — elected to the 650-member House of Commons, the Muslim News reports. In addition, the first Conservatives have gained their first two Muslim MPs.

Over 90 Muslim candidates of various political persuasions stood in the general election, including 22 women. Three Muslim women, all Labour, became the first to enter parliament. The first Muslim woman to win was Yasmin Qureshi winning in the Bolton South East constituency in north-west England, but by a reduced majority of more than 8,600. Shabana Mahmood increased the majority of outgoing former International Development Secretary Clare Short from under 7,000 votes to more than 10,000 in Birmingham Ladywood in central England.

With the swing from Labour to Conservatives, one of two Muslim ministers, Shahid Malik, lost his parliamentary seat by just over 1,500 votes. But Transport Minister Sadiq Khan defied the swing to retain his seat.

Nadhim Zahawi, the chief executive of online market research agency YouGov, also became the first Iraqi Kurd to become a UK MP. Zahawi is of Christian background.

Veteran Vendor Lance Orton Is Times Square Hero

(CANVAS STAFF REPORTS) – “I’m not a celebrity, I’m just an average Joe,” Lance Orton told the New York Daily News Sunday night from his apartment in the Bronx. But this average Joe is being hailed as the savior of Times Square.

Orton is one of the street vendors who alerted police to the suspicious dark-colored SUV that contained a home-made bomb, reported The New York Times . Orton sells T-shirts near the area in which the car was parked.

He and Duane Jackson, a handbag vendor, were the first to notice that something was strange about the car. Jackson told MyFox NY’s ‘Good Day NY’ co-host Greg Kelly : “When the smoke started, I realized there might be more to this than meets the eye.”

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had dinner on Sunday night in Times Square with Jackson and NYPD Officer Wayne Rhatigan, who was alerted by the vendors and was the first to begin to clear the are around the SUV. Orton, though passed on dinner with the mayor, according to MSNBC.com .

According to Reuters , New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised Orton: “Lance Orton saw something and did something about it.”

Orton said in a TV interview after the incident that he’s been a street vendor for 22 years. Walking with a limp and wearing a Monster energy drink T-shirt, he said of his vending position: “I don’t have too much choice. Nobody’s giving me a job.”

Surrounded by reporters as he walked to a taxi on Sunday morning, Orton was a bit surly, claiming: “Part of my reason for having this attitude is I’ve given some of you interviews before and you wrote the opposite of what I said in the paper, so that’s my problem with you.”

When asked if he was proud of his actions, he said: “Of course, man. I’m a veteran. What do you think?” As he got into the cab, the Vietnam vet said his advice to the city of New York was: “See something, say something.”

Now Orton is being mentioned in news articles around the world. His family members are also being sought out.

Miriam Citron, the mother of Orton’s son, told the New York Times that Orton would regularly alert police if something didn’t look right: “When he was in Vietnam, he said they had to make decisions and judgments from their gut, from their own feelings … His instinct was telling him something’s not right.”

Orton’s mother, Jean Jarrett, told the Daily News : “I’m sure he saved a lot of lives.”

Racism, Islamophobia on the rise in Britain

Despite anti-racism legislation, Britain witnessed a 28 per cent increase in racially motivated crime in five years, according to figures by the Ministry of Justice. Between 2006 and 2007, there were 61,000 complaints. The figures are based on cases reported by police in England and Wales. Islamophobia -fuelled by the 9/11 attacks and 7/7 train bombings in London – is blamed for many of the incidents. We’re getting more British Muslims reporting to us that they feel anti-Muslim prejudice is increasing in society, said Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim council of Britain. There are incidents of attacks against mosques and Islamic schools. Last week, Shahid Malik, Britain’s first Muslim minister, criticised what he described as growing hostility to Muslims in the UK. But many others feel that more measures accepting demands of the community have been counter-productive. Vijay Dutt reports.

British MP: UK Muslims feel like ‘the Jews of Europe’

Addressing the issue of anti-Islamic prejudice in the UK, a British government minister has said that the growing culture of hostility has led many Muslims to say they feel targeted like “the Jews of Europe.” Labor MP Shahid Malik, Britain’s first Muslim government minister, made the statement in an interview with to be broadcast on Monday on the UK’s Channel 4, to coincide with the third anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in London which killed 52 people. Malik, appointed minister for international development by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last year, said it has somehow become legitimate to target Muslims in a way that would be unacceptable for any other minority. “Somehow there’s a message out there that it is OK to target people as long as it’s Muslims, and you don’t have to worry about the facts, and people will turn a blind eye,” he told the Dispatches program. Malik made clear that he was not equating the position with the Holocaust. “I think most people would agree that if you ask Muslims today what do they feel like, they feel like the Jews of Europe,” he said. “I don’t mean to equate that with the Holocaust, but in the way that it was legitimate almost – and still is in some parts – to target Jews, many Muslims would say that we feel the exact same way.” Jonny Paul reports.

Muslim MP held at US airport

Britain’s first Muslim minister Shahid Malik was stopped and searched by airport security officials in the United States yesterday, it has emerged. Mr Malik, appointed as minister for international development by Gordon Brown earlier this year, was prevented from boarding a UK-bound flight for 40 minutes at Washington’s Dulles airport on Sunday.