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UKIP Black Country candidate condemns ‘evil cult of Islam’

From the Daily Express

UKIP has today stood by him after investigating. The party could not drop him as a candidate even if it wanted to as nominations closed on April 9.

Last night, he apologised and said he was only criticising extremists, not Muslims in general. The former pub landlord, now a coach driver, put a message on Facebook linking to an old news story about a then-Labour minister claiming the party had been infiltrated by a fundamentalist Muslim group that wanted to create an ‘Islamic social and political order’ in Britain.

Mr Latham posted his own remarks saying: “So the Muslims have infiltrated the Labour party. What a surprise. Who would have guessed such a thing was possible? The Labour Party of Diane Abbott and Harriet Harman infiltrated by the evil cult of Islam. Wow.”

A spokesman for UKIP said today: “UKIP notes that Steve Latham has apologised for his remark and explained that he was intending to criticise only extremists and not all Muslims. UKIP has many Muslim members, some of them candidates in this election, who fully support our positions on religion, immigration, culture and social cohesion, and clearly Mr Latham’s comment did not represent the party’s view.”

The comments come at a sensitive time for UKIP which yesterday launched its manifesto for the election. Party leader Nigel Farage set out plans for an early referendum on withdrawal from the European Union and a major reduction in immigration.

Farage made controversial remarks on HIV patients during the leaders' debate
UKIP leader Nigel Farage

Mr Latham, who used to run the Scott Arms and Joker pubs in Great Barr, said he could not recall putting the post on Facebook when he was asked about it. But he said: “I wouldn’t have meant it about Islam itself. It would have been about the people causing problems.

“It’s just the extremists. And there are extremists in all faiths. All I can do is apologise. I meant no disrespect.”

Sandwell Council’s Labour leader Darren Cooper said: “This is an outrageous statement to make about someone else’s religion. I call on Nigel Farage to suspend Steve Latham as a Parliamentary candidate.”

UKIP is fielding candidates across the West Midlands.

The party gained councillors in Cannock Chase, Walsall, Sandwell and Wolverhampton and especially in Dudley, where it won seven seats. UKIP is on course to come at least second in Dudley North, revealed as one of its top 10 targets in the country.

– Nick de Bois condemns Islamophobic BNP leaflet.

A recent political party leaflet distributed in Enfield has been condemned as “scaremongering” by an MP.

Enfield North MP Nick de Bois has criticised the British National Party’s leaflet that has been distributed in the borough, accusing it of “attempting to create tension for political gain”.

The pamphlet blasts Islam claiming that the religion is a “threat” to the British identity.

It goes on to say: “We help local communities oppose applications to build mosques and threaten our British identity by converting churches and pubs into Islamic centres.”

Mr de Bois said: “This type of ‘copy and paste’ literature – which doesn’t even try to focus on problems in Enfield – is just scaremongering.

“If any BNP politician bothered to look, they would see both the Union flag and the Cross of St George proudly flying outside the Civic Centre. So to argue the council is banning flags in order avoid offending Muslims is 100% wrong”.

In addition, the leaflet warns against “organised Muslim sex gangs” attempting to groom young girls.

The MP added: “This type of leaflet is designed to stir up racial tension for the purposes of political gain. It is reprehensible and people in Enfield will see straight through it”.

However, BNP’s London organiser Stephan Squire has defended the party and claims that Mr de Bois is trying to “reinforce stereotypes about the party” and win over “the muslim vote.”

Enfield Independent

– MP for Keighley “gangs of Muslim men were going around raping white kids”

Mosque leaders last night questioned why Keighley MP Kris Hopkins did not do more on the problem of child sex abuse when he was leader of Bradford Council.

On Tuesday, the Conservative MP told Parliament that “gangs of Muslim men were going around raping white kids” and claimed there was a fundamental problem in some British Pakistani households of women being treated as being inferior and “subservient”.

He also criticised the community of peers for not doing enough to change Muslim attitudes towards women which he described as being “a cultural thing that has set in right at the beginning”.

In response, a spokesman for Bradford Council for Mosques said it made it clear that it condemned any form or sexual exploitation or abuse but it also accused Mr Hopkins of overstepping his remit.

The spokesman said: “All of us, Muslim or non-Muslim, are equally appalled by the activities of criminals amidst our society. To suggest that the Muslim community does not care is grossly libellous. Kris Hopkins is right to draw the attention to the activities of the criminals and the plight of the victims but he has overstepped his remit.

“He has the right to be angry but, equally, a man of his position should be more discerning in what he says and how he says it. He should not overlook the fact that he went around pleading for votes from the same Muslim faith institutions that he so arrogantly dismissive of.

“Kris Hopkins, prior to being elected as an MP, was the leader of Bradford Council, a position that afforded him plenty of opportunities to tackle some of the issues that he has alluded to. He then found it convenient to remain tight-lipped. Perhaps now he feels that this type of outburst and candy martyrdom will secure him votes.”

The spokesman explained that “candy martyrdom” meant falsely professing or acting for a cause only to serve one’s own purpose and not through genuine belief.

In his speech in the House of Commons Mr Hopkins said questions needed to be asked why some Muslim youths carried an attitude that women were inferior which, he said, was a result of their upbringing. “I want to consider the way boys live in those households,” he said.

“I am afraid they are little princes: they can do nothing wrong, their behaviour is not challenged and eventually that can manifest itself.

“In one instance outside Bradford University Muslim men patrolled the streets verbally abusing women and girls all the time.

“Rather than the community of peers challenging that behaviour, we had to have a specific intervention to stop that sexual abuse of women.”

On girls being brought to Britain as brides, he said: “One reason which I think plays out is that women from Pakistan are subservient. They do not speak English or understand the values and freedoms that a girl born over her may live by. It is more convenient for a man to have a subservient woman in his household. They are not equal citizens.”

Mr Hopkins then went on to accuse some elders in Keighley mosques of “unacceptable” behaviour towards children – citing an example of an Imam who kicked and beat children.

Mr Hopkins was not available to comment yesterday but in a letter to the Telegraph & Argus, he said: “There has been a significant response to many of the points I made. I particularly welcome the acknowledgement from the Bradford Council of Mosques that there is a problem and I hope they will work with me and others in the community to map out an agreed way forward.

“Like Ann Cryer before me, I did not want to have to make the speech I did, but a proper and open debate is now under way. Most mainstream politicians have failed to address these issues, thereby handing racists in the BNP a grubby opportunity to fill the void. This cannot be allowed to happen again.”

– Yardley’s John Hemming one of Parliament’s top earners from outside income.

Birmingham MP John Hemming is one of Parliament’s top earners from outside income – with an extra £187,000 from his private business.

He appears tenth on the list of top earning MPs at a time when politicians’ outside income is under the spotlight following the resignation of former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind.

Tory Sir Malcolm and Labour’s Jack Straw were caught in a ‘cash for access’ sting by Channel 4 – although both deny any wrongdoing.

Mr Hemming, the Lib Dem MP for Yardley, makes most of his money as chairman of John Hemming And Company, the software firm he founded before going into politics. He says he works fewer than four hours a month.

Other income from completing Parliamentary Panel Surveys, his music performances and record label is donated to charity.

But he highlighted the fact he claims no expenses, and travels to and from London on saver return rail tickets.

“My income is from the company I set up when I was 23. I am a full-time MP, I am also the cheapest MP in Birmingham on expenses.”

Also high on the list is Tory MP for Sutton Coldfield Andrew Mitchell with outside income totalling £133,430 from his work as a business consultant with a range of firms including banking specialist Investec – ten days a year – and Midlands-based East End Foods – for eight days a year.

In total entries on the current register add up to £7.7 million for all MPs of which £228,000 covers expenses like travel and accommodation.

This includes £5.7 million for other regular jobs, £1.3 million for things like giving speeches at private events and £323,044 for appearing on TV and radio shows.

Gordon Brown has declared the most extra-curricular earnings for any MP coming in at a whopping £1.07 million plus an extra £173,000 in travel and accommodation expenses.

This includes payments received in his roles as Distinguished Global Leader in Residence at New York University and Chairman of the World Economic Forum Policy Coordination Group – although his entry on the MP’s register stresses that he is not paid personally, the money goes to his office to support his ‘ongoing involvement in public life’.

Among the big earners from TV work are Tory MP Nadine Dorries, whose appearance on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here earned her £20,000.

Respect MP George Galloway raked in £233,250 plus expenses for his work on Al-Mayadeen TV in Beirut, as well as programmes aired on Russia Today.

Of the 650 MPs in the House of Commons, 229 declared some extra earnings.

Of these 229, 126 were Conservatives, 78 were Labour and 19 were Liberal Democrats. Out of these major parties Conservative MPs earned the most on average with £38,147, Labour MPs earned an average of £28,050 and Lib Dems earned far less with an average of £12,258.

Birmingham Mail

– Mohammed Emwazi grew up in Westminster North

Leaders in the Mozart Estate have said the news has not caused tensions between the estate’s different communities – but they have appealed for the good relations to continue.

Omar Said from South Kilburn Muslim Community Association said: “His actions are completely against our faith and it’s not part of our religion.

“Whatever he’s done comes from his own desires, it’s nothing to do with Islam, the Q’uran, or the teachings of our prophet Mohammed.” He added that local mosques had been teaching worshippers to respect Islam’s ethos as peaceful.

He said: “We always deliver to our communities that when people are acting like this it is nothing to do with Islam – it is clearly against it. Islam is a peace-loving religion.”

He added that the news had not affected community relations in the area. “Everything is normal at the moment, it hasn’t affected anything,” he said. “I hope that people will continue to live together peacefully.”

On the day Emwazi’s identity was revealed, Moolana Abdul Mukith, 44, stopped on his way into Harrow Road Jamme Mosque, a mere stone’s throw from Emwazi’s former home, to denounce ISIS. He told the Wood & Vale: “I don’t like these jihadi people.”

Westminster North MP Karen Buck also focused on the importance of the strong Queen’s Park community, saying: “Our first thoughts are with all of victims of ISIS terror. Obviously this man must be held accountable for his crimes, but it’s also very important that the local community continues in its strong tradition of good community relations.”

Queen’s Park councillor Paul Dimoldenberg added: “This was a total surprise to me; as far I’m aware the family is just an ordinary family living in the area.

“The atrocities it is alleged that he is responsible for are an absolute disgrace but it’s nothing to do with the family or the rest of the community in the Mozart Estate.

“I hope the understandable press interest subsides so the community can get back to normal life.”

Ham & High

– 7.5% in Poplar and Limehouse paid below the minimum wage

New analysis by the TUC reveals today that in some parts of the UK, less than half of jobs pay workers the Living Wage.

Nationally, one in five jobs pays under the Living Wage, but the TUC finds that some parliamentary constituencies are ‘Living Wage blackspots’ where much higher percentages of people are not taking home enough to cover the basic costs of living.

Birmingham Northfield is named as the worst place in the country for pay, with 53.4 per cent of people in work there earning less than £7.85 an hour, followed by Kingswood near Bristol (51 per cent) and Dwyfor Meirionnydd in north Wales (50.9 per cent).

The number is also disproportionately high in certain areas of London – for example in Harrow West 48.9 per cent of workers take home less than the Living Wage, and 48.3 per cent in Chingford and Woodford Green.

The figures are even worse for working women. 63.1 per cent of women in Birmingham Northfield and 59.6 per cent of women in Kingswood are paid under the Living Wage.  In East Yorkshire that’s 58.7 per cent of women compared to 42.4 per cent of the working population as a whole.

The TUC analysis also reveals high paying ‘bright spots’ where a low percentage of people are earning below the Living Wage, and these are mainly constituencies in the South East.

In Poplar and Limehouse in East London just 7.5 per cent of working people earn less than the living wage, followed by Edinburgh South West (7.9 per cent), Guildford (8.4 per cent), South Cambridgeshire (8.5 per cent) and Runnymede and Weybridge in Surrey (8.9 per cent). There are no constituencies in the North of England in the list of the top ten ‘bright spots’.

The Left Foot Forward

– Harrow East MP doesn’t want to represent Muslims

In a recent article Bob Blackman, MP for one of the most diverse seats in the UK, boasted that he is “standing firm for the suburbia minorities”, yet he fails to mention the large Muslim population in his constituency. He mentions the largest and third largest minority in the seat, the Hindu and Jewish community, yet he omits mention of the second largest minority: the Muslim community.

Full article below:

“Standing firm for the suburban minorities

 

Few constituencies are as politically, culturally and religiously diverse as Harrow East.

Its suburbs of north-west London, including affluent Stanmore and grittier Kenton and Queensbury, have swung between Labour and the Conservatives in general elections over the past 70 years.

For Bob Blackman, that diversity has presented an opportunity. Since being elected as the constituency’s Tory MP with a majority of 3,403 in 2010, he has built strong relationships with the area’s Jewish, Hindu and Christian communities.

He has leading roles on three parliamentary groups representing the interests of Hindus, Jews and Israel. He even describes himself as a “Chrinjew – a Christian with Jewish roots, and an honorary Hindu”.

Jewish people quite rightly don’t trust the Labour Party

Harrow East does not attract the same level of Jewish attention as its neighbouring constituency of Hendon, but maybe it should.

It is home to sizeable United Synagogue communities in Stanmore and Belmont, and parts of Edgware also fall within Mr Blackman’s boundary. Of the 72,000-plus electorate, 7.3 per cent are Jewish, the sixth highest percentage in the country.

Mr Blackman is one of Parliament’s strongest supporters of Israel and regularly defends the country from the backbenches. He said: “I’ve visited Israel six times over the years. I take a very strong view that no one should comment on Israel and its security without going to see it.

“I’ve had the opportunity to go all over Israel and be briefed. I have no qualms about it – I support Israel 101 per cent. That’s always been my stance.”

Mr Blackman travelled to the region during the Gaza conflict last summer “to show solidarity at a time when Israeli citizens were under threat from rockets. I saw what it was like for people to run to the shelters”.

He was one of only 12 MPs to vote against a motion calling for the unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood, and takes the view that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel and not be shared with the Palestinians.

These approaches play well when he makes his regular visits to the constituency’s shuls, but he also believes Labour’s approach during the Gaza conflict – with Ed Miliband taking a strong line against Israel’s military actions – will harm his leading opponent in May – Labour candidate Uma Kumaran.

“Jewish people quite rightly don’t trust the Labour Party to stand with Israel,” he said.

“I hope they’ll see the benefit of having a very strong advocate for their faith, for Israel and opposing antisemitism. I say the same things in a synagogue as in a mosque. Even if people don’t like it, I think they accept where I’m coming from.”

The key question for May 7 is whether Mr Blackman’s efforts for minorities in his constituency – significant groups though they are – will be outweighed by voters’ concerns about the economy, health-care and housing.”

Source The Jewish Chronicle

– Ed Miliband: It’s Labour values to recognise Palestine

Gareth Thomas MP

In remarks made at the Labour Friends of Palestine’s Annual Gala Dinner, November 26, Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, said, “It is right, just, fair and in line with the values of Labour to recognise Palestine.”

Labour believes statehood for the Palestinians is not a gift to be given but a right to be recognised. That is why since 2011 Labour has supported Palestinian recognition at the UN and called on the Government to support this important principle.

As we approach the end of what has been a traumatic year in the Middle East, the bloodshed during and before the terrible scenes in Gaza over the summer, is a hard reminder of just how important, and how difficult, a return to meaningful negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis will be.

With the weather getting worse, the immediate priority is to speed up reconstruction of the 100,000 homes damaged or destroyed during the conflict, and ensuring that one of the most basic of rights, the right to shelter, is delivered for the people of Gaza.

It is vital that access to basic services such as water, electricity, sewerage and healthcare are restored as quickly as possible too. Crucial infrastructure, such as roads, hospitals and schools must also be rebuilt. It is in everyone’s interest to ensure that the reconstruction effort in Gaza is accelerated, and in so doing, create employment opportunities, a safe place for children to go to school, and above all else, hope.

One of the key underlying causes of the conflict this summer was the collapse of the Kerry-led peace talks. This latest diplomatic failure reinforced the feelings of insecurity and fear that too many of those living in Palestine and indeed Israel feel about their futures. That insecurity is the fear of yet more rocket attacks, or more attacks from tunnels, with yet more dreadful loss of life.

Labour remains deeply committed to a two-state solution and the negotiations that remain crucial to deliver it. But negotiations between the two sets of leaders – whilst critical – are not enough. Long term security will only come if the peoples of both countries have been involved as well in discussions about their future, are able to talk through the toughest issues, and the questions that demand the most difficult answers. It is from such discussions that the political space for leaders to talk and negotiators to engage is created.

We must do all we can therefore to encourage open debate among the peoples of Palestine and Israel and indeed between them too.

Gareth Thomas MP, is Shadow Minister for Middle East & North Africa

– Harrow East MP votes against Palestinian statehood

Ala Abbas

An historic motion recognising the state of Palestine was passed in the House of Commons on October 13, with 274 votes in favour and 12 against. The vote had the second biggest turnout for a backbench vote ever.

The motion, which was tabled by the Labour MP Grahame Morris, stated: “That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution. The motion was amended by Jack Straw to make a reference to a two-state solution.

The Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, was the only Leader of the three main parties to vote in favour of the motion, although it is a convention that ministers abstain when voting takes place on a backbench MP’s motion. Of those 274 votes in favour, 192 were from Labour MPs. None of the Labour MPs voted no.

Morris who is the MP for Easington, Country Durham, told the House: “As a friend of Palestine, I earnestly believe that recognition of the state of Palestine is the only way forward, and that it should be the choice of all true friends of Israel. All parties should come together on that basis. Given our commitment to a two-state solution and the fact that an overwhelming majority of 134 nations voted in favour of Palestinian statehood, I was hugely disappointed by our decision to abstain on the issue at the UN General Assembly. We should regret that decision.”

Amongst the Muslim MPs who voted for the motion were Sadiq Khan, Rushanara Ali, Yasmin Qureshi, Shabana Mahmood, Khalid Mahmood and Anas Sarwar for the Labour Party. Khan told The Muslim News: “Palestinian statehood is not a gift to be given but a right to be recognised and that is why since 2011 Labour has supported Palestinian recognition at the United Nations. I am proud to be part of a Labour Party, under the leadership of Ed Miliband, who believes in recognising Palestine.”

Sarwar told the House that the debate was “one small part in righting a profound and lasting wrong…This issue has widespread public support in the UK and across the world. That has been shown by the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets over the summer to protest against the continued bloodshed in the region, and by the flooding of Members’ in-boxes by constituents asking us to support this important motion.”

The motion was not opposed by Conservative Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Richard Ottaway, who said he would have opposed the motion in normal circumstances, had it not been for his “anger with the behaviour of Israel in recent months…I have to say to the government of Israel: if it is losing people like me, it is going to be losing a lot of people.”

Amongst the 41 Conservative MPs who voted in favour of the motion were Dominic Grieve and Cheryl Gillan. Gillan told the House: “More than 300 Israeli figures signed a letter…urging this Parliament to vote in favour of the motion, and they included former Ministers, ex-diplomats and activists in Israel.”

Sweden’s new Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, has also indicated this month that his Government intends to recognise Palestinian Statehood, joining 130 other countries worldwide in doing so. The leader of Israel’s opposition, Isaac Herzog, described the British vote as a defeat for Netanyahu’s foreign policy.

The only two Muslim Conservative MPs Sajid Javid and Rehman Chisti abstained.

Twelve MPs voted no. They were: 6 Cons: Blackman, Djanogly, Freer, Mills, Offord and Syms. 1 LD: Beith. 5 DUP, Dodds, McCrae, Paisley, Shannon and Simpson.

274 Ayes included 192 Lab, 39 Con, 28 LD, 6 SNP, 3 PC, 2 SDLP, 2 IND, 1 Green, 1 Alliance.

Ukip’s new MP, Douglas Carswell, didn’t vote on his first day in the job.

 

 

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Editorial p2

 

– Hendon MP votes against Palestinian statehood

Ala Abbas

An historic motion recognising the state of Palestine was passed in the House of Commons on October 13, with 274 votes in favour and 12 against. The vote had the second biggest turnout for a backbench vote ever.

The motion, which was tabled by the Labour MP Grahame Morris, stated: “That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution. The motion was amended by Jack Straw to make a reference to a two-state solution.

The Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, was the only Leader of the three main parties to vote in favour of the motion, although it is a convention that ministers abstain when voting takes place on a backbench MP’s motion. Of those 274 votes in favour, 192 were from Labour MPs. None of the Labour MPs voted no.

Morris who is the MP for Easington, Country Durham, told the House: “As a friend of Palestine, I earnestly believe that recognition of the state of Palestine is the only way forward, and that it should be the choice of all true friends of Israel. All parties should come together on that basis. Given our commitment to a two-state solution and the fact that an overwhelming majority of 134 nations voted in favour of Palestinian statehood, I was hugely disappointed by our decision to abstain on the issue at the UN General Assembly. We should regret that decision.”

Amongst the Muslim MPs who voted for the motion were Sadiq Khan, Rushanara Ali, Yasmin Qureshi, Shabana Mahmood, Khalid Mahmood and Anas Sarwar for the Labour Party. Khan told The Muslim News: “Palestinian statehood is not a gift to be given but a right to be recognised and that is why since 2011 Labour has supported Palestinian recognition at the United Nations. I am proud to be part of a Labour Party, under the leadership of Ed Miliband, who believes in recognising Palestine.”

Sarwar told the House that the debate was “one small part in righting a profound and lasting wrong…This issue has widespread public support in the UK and across the world. That has been shown by the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets over the summer to protest against the continued bloodshed in the region, and by the flooding of Members’ in-boxes by constituents asking us to support this important motion.”

The motion was not opposed by Conservative Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Richard Ottaway, who said he would have opposed the motion in normal circumstances, had it not been for his “anger with the behaviour of Israel in recent months…I have to say to the government of Israel: if it is losing people like me, it is going to be losing a lot of people.”

Amongst the 41 Conservative MPs who voted in favour of the motion were Dominic Grieve and Cheryl Gillan. Gillan told the House: “More than 300 Israeli figures signed a letter…urging this Parliament to vote in favour of the motion, and they included former Ministers, ex-diplomats and activists in Israel.”

Sweden’s new Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, has also indicated this month that his Government intends to recognise Palestinian Statehood, joining 130 other countries worldwide in doing so. The leader of Israel’s opposition, Isaac Herzog, described the British vote as a defeat for Netanyahu’s foreign policy.

The only two Muslim Conservative MPs Sajid Javid and Rehman Chisti abstained.

Twelve MPs voted no. They were: 6 Cons: Blackman, Djanogly, Freer, Mills, Offord and Syms. 1 LD: Beith. 5 DUP, Dodds, McCrae, Paisley, Shannon and Simpson.

274 Ayes included 192 Lab, 39 Con, 28 LD, 6 SNP, 3 PC, 2 SDLP, 2 IND, 1 Green, 1 Alliance.

Ukip’s new MP, Douglas Carswell, didn’t vote on his first day in the job.

 

 

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Editorial p2

 

– Muslim community hosts hustings

On Saturday 29 November, the hotly contested battle for Harrow East began as parliamentary candidates clashed in a bid to secure the vote of some 9,000 Muslims in the area. The incumbent Conservative MP for Harrow East, Bob Blackman was present, alongside Labour prospective parliamentary candidate Uma Kumaran and the prospective Liberal Democrat candidate, Ross Barlow. Channel 4 news reporter, Fatima Manji, chaired and moderated the event.

Held at the Shi’a Ithna’ashari Community of Middlesex (SICM) premises in North Harrow, the event was organised by the Muslim Forum of Middlesex (MFM), a diverse coalition of mosques and Islamic associations in Harrow, who packed the hall and quizzed the candidates primarily on local issues. A crucial issue for Harrow residents, the state of Northwick Park Hospital’s A&E department, dominated much of the debate. On health, Blackman acknowledged the long waiting times; from his own personal experience in February 2013, he recalled that he had had to wait from 4pm to 2am to be seen and agreed that “there need to be more beds” and that waiting times were “unacceptable”. However, Kumaran responded by noting that after five years and running up to a General Election, “Bob cannot just say what is wrong”; this constituency, she added “needs someone who would take decisive action”.

Local GP registrar Dr Rasha Mezher-Sikafi expressed her frustration on the political approach to healthcare: “What politicians need to realise is that building a shiny new wing at Northwick Park Hospital with no increase in capacity six months before the general election does not fix the underlying problem caused by the closure of other A&E departments within North West London. They need to listen to doctors who work on the front line and understand the facts.”

On education, Blackman acknowledged that the media was vilifying “schools that have a fundamental Muslim ethos – and this is completely wrong.” Kumaran went further, noting that OFSTED “really is unfairly targeting Muslim communities” and Barlow joined in, attacking OFSTED for “not showing the same level of tolerance and respect that they are expecting of schools.” In response to Blackman’s analysis of the problems in education, Anjum Peerbacos, an experienced teacher argued that the recent reforms in education have made things much more difficult for teachers: “We are overworked; Michael Gove’s reforms have taken us back to the 1950s. Fifty percent of teachers want to leave the profession. Unlike the previous government, who listened to the teachers, this type of reform was top down and our concerns were just ignored.” As governor of a local school, Kumaran agreed that she has “seen first-hand the effect that Michael Gove’s disastrous reforms have had” on schools, and Barlow expressed that he wished he “could tell Michael Gove where to go.”

One respondent of a feedback survey taken within twenty four hours of the event, highlighted, however, that Blackman had an impressive grasp of statistics and that his “track record in education delivery for Harrow speaks for itself.”

The debate came to a head when Blackman accused Kumaran of “lying to this audience” when referring to the £75m cuts required of the Local Council; in a raised voice, he asked whether a Labour government would reverse the cuts. Kumaran, clearly startled by the tone taken, responded: “you can talk to me and not shout at me”, considering his approach “ridiculous”.

The event also generated a passionate discussion on the issue of Palestine. On the one hand Kumaran and Barlow supported the recognition of the state of Palestine. Kumaran expressed that she understood “how important the freedom movement is” and “that recognition and statehood is not a gift to be given but a right to be recognised.” Barlow went further saying that the UK government should “hold weapons hostage” and not let British weapons be used as a “constant stream of aggression to their neighbours.”

However, after Blackman’s unwillingness to acknowledge a state of Palestine at this moment, and a statement that of the approximately 2,000 people killed in Operation Protective Edge, “75% of the people killed in Gaza were men between the ages of 18 and 30”, there was surprise expressed from the audience. His implication that people could and should be deemed legitimate targets by virtue of their age and gender without further investigation, drew disbelief from the crowd. One member retorted that even if this were factually correct, “this does not make it right to kill them” extra judicially and later expressed that “Blackman really needs to do his research before making such factually incorrect statements that contradict official UN statistics.”

In addition to this, the audience found it particularly amusing when he said that his tweets on the issue had been “balanced”. Local resident, Kosar Pedram, asked Blackman why he used social media to retweet views that suggested that Palestinian lives were less valuable than the lives of non Palestinians, and noted afterwards: “It seems like he thinks that the life of a Palestinian is not worth the same as that of others. I am not sure that a person with such views should represent such a diverse borough.”

Following the end of the debate, SICM Executive Committee member and MFM co-ordinator, Miqdaad Versi, emphasised the importance of community organisation in the run-up to the General Elections: “We all need to work together, educate the local residents about the political process, understand their concerns and ensure they are put to the candidates. Only through political participation, engaging the candidates and volunteering to make a difference, can we make our MP be truly representative of the diversity of Harrow”.

Those unable to make it in person joined the discussion using #HarrowHustings with tweets displayed on screen display for all to see.

The Muslim Forum of Middlesex (MFM) is a broad and unified non-partisan coalition of mosques and Muslim organisations, working together in unity to encourage Muslim participation and engagement in the political process in Harrow East and Harrow West. The organisations include Harrow Central Mosque, Stanmore (Hujjat KSIMC of London), SICM (Mahfil Ali), Pakistan Society of Harrow, Sri Lankan Muslim Cultural Centre and the Harrow Kuwaiti Community Association.

The Shia Ithna’ashari Community of Middlesex (SICM) is a local Muslim organisation based at Mahfil Ali in Harrow, which is heavily involved in the local community. Further to its deep and long-standing inter- and intrafaith work, it is a founder of a local food bank, Sufra, leads health awareness sessions, provides volunteers to help the homeless and supports the development of sustainable mental health resources in communities with MIND in Harrow. It is currently in the process of building a multi-purpose community centre (the Salaam Centre), which encapsulates its vision of building a more open, accepting and engaged community. To find out more about the Salaam Centre, visit www.thesalaamcentre.com.

– Lib Dem Ibrahim Taguri steps down as candidate after donation claims

A former Liberal Democrat chief fund-raiser has stood down as a parliamentary candidate for the party after he was caught on tape allegedly advising a fake donor on how to circumvent funding laws.

Ibrahim Taguri said he would continue campaign to become MP for the Brent Central, but as an independent. His announcement came following allegations that he told an undercover reporter from the Daily Telegraph that he could make a donation to the Lib Dems via a cousin.

The Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, said the party had acted properly.

Speaking on his LBC radio phone-in, he said: “The fundraiser has now stood down, he is now not a Liberal Democrat candidate, no cheque was received by the Liberal Democrats. If it were ever to be received it would be scrutinised by the processes we have got in place which has been audited by the electoral commission and found to be satisfactory and sound. The electoral commission is the third party, the dispassionate, objective organisation which should look at this kind of stuff.”

Read full article on The Guardian here.

Picture from www.libdems.org.uk

Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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