Posts Tagged ‘British’

George Galloway MP deported from Egypt

Statement from Salma Yaqoob

George Galloway deported

George Galloway MP

‘The decision of the Egyptian government to deport George Galloway MP, and their treatment of those seeking to bring aid to the besieged people of Gaza, is a disgrace.

The Viva Palestina convoy brought desperately needed aid to a population in Gaza subject to a brutal economic blockade by the Israeli government. This blockade was described by the United Nations-sponsored Goldstone report as a form of ‘collective punishment’ against the entire population. Oxfam’s director, Jeremy Hobbs, said that the “world powers have failed and betrayed Gaza’s ordinary citizens” by failing to help bring an end to this blockade. He is right. And Egypt, which borders Gaza, has the ability and the duty to do something positive for the Palestinian people.

Instead, by its obstruction of the Convoy, its brutal assault and tear gassing of its supporters, and now the arrest of Viva Palestina activists and deportation of George Galloway MP, the Egyptian authorities have disgraced themselves in the eyes of the world. Once again they have failed in their humanitarian duty towards their Palestinian neighbours.

I call on supporters of the Palestinian cause to convey their opposition to the deportation of George Galloway to Egyptian representatives, consulates and Embassies throughout the world.’

Salma Yaqoob
Leader Respect Party

Salma Yaqoob: The real debate we should have about Afghanistan

Salma Yaqoob, chair of Birmingham Stop the War, says If we are genuinely concerned about the troops, as we are about the Afghan people, we must have an open debate about why we are in Afghanistan and whether we should pull out.

Wootton Bassett

Crowds watch as the hearse carrying the body of the 100th soldier to die in Afghanistan returns home.

By Salma Yaqoob | guardian.co.uk | 5 January 20105 January 2010

When I was invited to appear on Question Time at Wootton Bassett, I did feel a hesitation because of the programme’s location. I was very mindful of the fact that this is where every soldier who has been killed is honoured and where respects are paid.

Regardless of where you stand politically, their loss is a very real and human tragedy for their families.

But these are more than personal tragedies. Our soldiers and military families put their trust in the politicians who send them into battle. They trust them to tell the truth.

The political tragedy is that, once again, we are fighting a war that is based on lies and that will not make us safe.

So it is necessary to hold our politicians to account for their decisions. And that debate should not be silenced.

There is a subtext that if you support our troops, then you have to support the war itself; because if you question the purpose of the occupation, then you are accused not only of being unpatriotic, but also even of endangering the troops by undermining morale.

That silencing of debate leaves a huge vacuum in our politics, because all three parties back the line that we have to get behind the troops and “finish the job”.

There is also a double standard also about deaths in Afghanistan. On the one hand, with the parades in Wootton Bassett we congratulate ourselves that we’re so civilised that no loss goes unmourned; yet, if you’re Afghan, no one even counts your death.

Afghan suffering

From British politicians there’s absolutely no acknowledgment of Afghan people’s suffering, or the fact that their lives are not better-off because of the west’s intervention – although that is the lie that continues to be told. Thousands have been killed and seven million made refugees, but that’s not on anybody’s radar.

Anjem Choudary

Anjem Choudary

This dignified and serious debate is the last thing on the mind of Anjem Choudary and Islam4UK. He is a bigot whose goal in life is to provoke division. He engages in these provocations because he is deeply hostile to any coming together of Muslims and non-Muslims. For him, the fact that a majority of the British people – Muslim and non-Muslim – oppose the war in Afghanistan is not something to be celebrated, but is something to be feared.

If we are genuinely concerned about the troops, as we are about the Afghan people, we must have an open debate about why we are in Afghanistan and whether we should pull out. Instead, the airwaves are dominated by the rantings of a marginal provocateur.

My experience on Question Time confirms to me the need for a genuinely open political debate, conducted with seriousness and sensitivity. I wasn’t surprised to be received at first in silence, given the programme’s pro-war bias, but by the end, people were saying that the majority was behind me.

I do trust the conscience of ordinary British people, even if I am cynical about our political leadership.

Original article (The Guardian) here.

Stop the War Coalition (STWC) article here.

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Salma Yaqoob: Tackling the ‘cancer’ of BNP fascism

Nick Griffin: the leader of the BNP has admitted defeat after failing to find enough far-Right allies to form a new bloc in the European Parliament

Nick Griffin: the leader of the BNP has admitted defeat after failing to find enough far-Right allies to form a new bloc in the European Parliament

The election of two BNP MEPs has removed the cover on a political sewer that should have been sealed for all time. Nick Griffin, a man with a history of anti-Semitism and holocaust denial, now calls for “chemotherapy” against the Islamic “cancer” in Europe (1). The echoes of the past are deliberate. The choice of words is chilling.

Griffin’s election has given the BNP unprecedented access to the media, and he is using it to promote the most vicious racism. His genocidal rantings towards Muslims followed his call (2) for the sinking of ships carrying migrants from Africa to Europe – in other words the premeditated murder of men, women and children on a desperate voyage to escape poverty and oppression.

We should remind ourselves that almost 1 million people voted for the BNP in the European Elections. If there is a cancer in Europe, then it is the cancer of racism. Yet the response from the political establishment to Griffin’s remarks has, so far, been less than overwhelming.

Defensiveness and political compromise has marked the response of mainstream parties to the rise of the BNP. It should be clear enough by now. This is not a temporary blip before we return to business as usual. Ignoring the BNP or playing down their successes will not make them go away. It is time for the anti-fascist movement to go on the offensive.

Griffin’s Nazi-style outbursts cannot be dismissed as an irrelevant excess by a marginal figure. He knows what he is doing. He wants to make legitimate what was once illegitimate. He aims to shift the centre of gravity of political debate sharply to the right. He knows that his more extreme rhetoric is in tune with his party’s membership, and large swathes of his voters. But he also knows that every time mainstream politicians bend to his agenda in an attempt to occupy ground he is staking out, that the racist argument is strengthened.

It is a pattern we have seen all too frequently in recent years. Faced with a rise in racism, politicians seek to ride both horses at once: deploring racism while conceding ever more political ground to the far right.

Isn’t this exactly what Gordon Brown was doing when he called for “local homes for local people”? (3). Concerns about housing are undoubtedly genuine. There are too few affordable homes. But that is because successive governments have relied on the market to provide what it patently cannot do. What should be done is to tackle this policy failure, which would provide affordable homes for all those in need. Furthermore, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has revealed that 9 out of 10 social housing residents were born in Britain, giving a lie to the BNP myths bout “local people” losing out to immigrants and asylum seekers (4). Instead of focusing on these realities, voters are told that their prejudices are justified and that the government will do what the BNP cannot. It is a tactic that is both cynical and ineffective.

Let us be clear. The response to Griffins call to “sink the boats” cannot be one of pledging to do everything possible to keep out immigrants short of launching missiles at defenceless people. His call for “chemotherapy” against Muslims must be met with robust challenge, and not by conceding that fears of Islam in Europe are justified. The alternative is to accept that ever more extreme and dangerous fascist rhetoric will define the nature of political debate in our society.

Those who promote fear and hatred of African immigrants knocking at our door, or of the Muslims already within the gates of Europe, have to be openly and directly confronted. Their arguments have to be dealt with head on.

It is not legitimate to blame migrants or refugees for the recession. They were not the ones who became rich beyond anyone’s dreams while gambling away our economy. It is not legitimate to blame immigrants for rising unemployment. They did not close our factories and devastate our manufacturing base. It is not legitimate to blame ‘outsiders’ for the housing crisis (5). They are not the ones who passed legislation that strangled the ability of local councils to build new housing on the scale we need.

And it is not legitimate to scapegoat Muslims, who represent just 3% of the population, for any supposed threat to British identity. The recent Gallup poll on Muslim integration (6) revealed that while only half the UK population very strongly identifies with being British, 77% of Muslims did so. And only 17% of British Muslims wanted to live in an area consisting mostly of people of the same religious and ethnic background as themselves, compared to 33% of the population as a whole.

This is the positive side of our multicultural society. Being ‘different’ is not a sign of alienation from society as a whole. Yet while Muslims increasingly identify with Britain and value its mix of people and faiths, more and more people conclude that Muslims are a breed apart. There is a gulf between the reality of our lives and the perception that is created by a constant stream of horror stories.

Today, it is anti-Muslim racism that is at the cutting edge of the fascist strategy. It is effective because it feeds on the suspicion and prejudice that is the theme of so much mainstream discussion of our lives as British Muslims.

Its consequences are real. Already, there are signs that attacks on mosques and individual Muslims may be rising (7). The police are warning of the danger of far-right terrorism (8). And, earlier this month we saw an openly racist provocation in Birmingham city centre, under the guise of a protest against “Islamic extremism” – a label that the organiser made clear applied to all Muslims (9).

We, as British Muslims, have a direct and immediate interest in defeating this fascist threat. The anti-fascist movement must reach out to Muslim communities who are at the sharp end of BNP attacks. But the rise in racism is not only a threat to Muslims. The BNP may be playing down their anti-Semitism and anti-Black racism in order to drive a wedge between Muslims and the rest of society. But to the BNP we are all “racial foreigners”, (10) our very existence as British people denied.

We have to not only unite all those targeted by the BNP, with every possible ally who rejects racism and fascism. We have to also positively assert our multicultural and pluralist society. It is a message of hope that is in tune in an increasingly interconnected world. It is a source of strength and vibrancy. We are one society and many cultures. And we will only remain so if we are prepared to stand up and be counted.

Salma Yaqoob is councillor for Birmingham Sparkbrook, Leader of the Respect party and chair of the Birmingham Stop the War Coalition.

Yaqoob and Galloway slam press over ‘reckless’ Mumbai bombings coverage

Mumbai Attacks Headline in the Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph leads the Mumbai Attacks news story with an irresponsible headline

Calls for investigation after ‘baseless’ claims
Asian Image, UK – 30 Nov 2008
Respect MP George Galloway and the party’s leader, Cllr Salma Yaqoob, have called for an urgent investigation by the Press Complaints Commission into newspaper claims the Mumbai terrorsits hailed from Britain…

Respect MP George Galloway and the party’s leader, Cllr Salma Yaqoob, have today called for an urgent investigation by the Press Complaints Commission into “reckless, inaccurate and inflammatory” claims by several newspapers about the

Citizenship classes plan ‘not solution’

Citizenship by Steve Bell, The Guardian

UK Citizenship Test

PLANS for citizenship classes to be rolled out to young Muslims in Birmingham have met with a mixed response from prominent members of the city’s faith community.

The proposals, aimed at promoting national pride among British Muslims in a bid to discourage extremist views, were outlined by communities secretary Hazel Blears.

But city councillor Salma Yaqoob, (Respect, Sparkbrook) said the scheme could prove more of a hindrance than a help.

“Anything that promotes citizenship and self-esteem is a good thing but if it targets only Muslims it could make other communities feel rightfully resentful,” she said.

Salma Yaqoob

Salma Yaqoob

“Good citizenship is important to us all. We have to educate the wider society.

“My concern is that, when you single out communities, you reinforce the problems rather than address them.

“We need a holistic approach which all communities need to embrace.”

Mosque teachers in Birmingham, London, Leicester, Oldham, Rochdale and Bradford will be trained over the summer so lessons can be trialled in September to coincide with the start of the new school term.

Stechford Community Centre chairman Mohammed Yasin said: “It’s good to open new dialogue ending misunderstanding about the religion and extremism.

“We are part and parcel of this country.

“As British Muslims we respect the rights and liberties we are offered. Islam does not teach what happened in London (7/7 bombings).

“Those people called themselves Muslims but Islam does not allow what they did.”

The proposals form part of a wider package of measures which include a new independent board of academic and theological experts and a group of community leaders to advise on local responses to extremism.

Source article: Birmingham Mail | Images: Mousumi De, Steve Bell