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Wakefield Tory councillor targeted in Islamophobic hate incident

25th Feb 2022

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Muslim councillor in Wakefield Council, West Yorkshire, has received Islamophobic abuse, including an incident where a piece of ham was placed on his vehicle.

Akef Akbar, a Conservative Councillor, claims he has received vile emails and abuse on social media since he was elected nine months ago, including being branded a “terrorist.”

Speaking movingly about Islamophobia at a council meeting on February 9, Akbar, who represents Wakefield East ward, said Muslims across the district were facing abuse for their faith daily.

He told the chamber: “I never believed people would use my religion to abuse me or cause offence to me. As Muslim children, you’re taught to turn the other cheek and be somewhat immune to it. I’m sorry, but how can you be immune to Islamophobia?”

He continued, “I’ve been called a ‘terrorist’ and that’s not uncommon. Many Muslims face that kind of comment. One of my particular experiences was that ham was left on my vehicle. Anyone who’s in touch with Islam will know that consuming pigs is forbidden for us. It was wedged on my number plate, which has my name on it. I believe it was a targeted Islamophobic act which was in direct correlation to those letters. It was around the same those letters were sent.”

Councillors across the political spectrum united to condemn Islamophobia and those behind the attacks on Akbar.
Labour Cabinet member Michael Graham, who was one of the four recipients of the racist letters, said: “What they (the writer) tried to do was pit one community against another community, which I think is disgusting. Islamophobia is a disgrace. I’ve visited every mosque in Wakefield, and every time I’ve come out of one I’ve felt on top of the world because of how friendly the people there are.

“One of the reasons we brought back the fireworks in Thornes Park this year was because it’s something that Muslim people celebrate and come together.

“We don’t all celebrate the same events and festivals, but some of them we do, and I think we as a council have a really important part to play, across every service, in bringing people together.”

West Yorkshire Police said last month a probe into who sent those letters remains ongoing.

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