Posts Tagged ‘controversy’

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 calls for Roger Godsiff to pay back £87,000

Councillor Salma Yaqoob, Hall Green parliamentary candidate for the Respect Party, says it is time for a clear out of greedy MPs in the wake of revelations about MP Roger Godsiff’s expense claims.

Salma Yaqoob commented:

Salma Yaqoob confronts Roger Godsiff MP in 2005

Salma Yaqoob confronts Roger Godsiff MP

“I represent one of the poorest areas in Birmingham. Thousands of my constituents are struggling to make ends meet in the face of a recession that is causing pain to many people. It is hardly surprising that there is deep anger at the spectacle of MPs enriching themselves at our expense.

“Roger Godsiff’s family live in a London home and are registered to vote there, making it his main residence in most people’s eyes. However, by claiming it as his ‘second home’ he has claimed £87,000 of tax payers’ money for it in the last four years.

“He should pay back this money.

“He has also made thousands of pounds worth of claims on his Sheldon home in Birmingham for ‘guttering’ and ‘shower repairs’, and even claimed for a lawn mower under ‘office sundries’. Oddly this home is not even in his constituency!

Salma Yaqoob slashed Roger Godsiff's election majority in 2005

Salma Yaqoob slashed Roger Godsiff's election majority in 2005

“Roger Godsiff’s behaviour smacks of contempt for his constituents and raises more questions about MPs abuse of the expenses system.

“We have heard enough to know that none of the three big parties have clean hands. Everywhere we look there is a new scandal. Enough is enough. It is time for a clear out.”

Councillor Salma Yaqoob accuses Tories of ‘outrageous deception’

The controversial and offensive Conservative election leaflet for the Lozells East and Handsworth by-election suggests Salma Yaqoob supports their candidate Raja Khan. A 'disgusted' Salma accused the party of deception and 'misleading voters' and is planning legal action.

The controversial and offensive Conservative election leaflet for the Lozells East and Handsworth by-election suggests Salma Yaqoob supports their candidate Raja Khan. A 'disgusted' Salma accused the party of deception and is planning legal action.

Respect Councillor Salma Yaqoob has blasted the Conservative party for using her photograph on election material, without permission, to imply support for their candidate in the forthcoming Lozells East and Handsworth by-election.

Cllr Yaqoob said: “I am outraged and disgusted that the Tory candidate in Lozells East and Handsworth [Raja Khan] has produced an election leaflet using my photo and implying that I am supporting him.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr Khan approached me for a photo on the recent trade union defend jobs demo in Birmingham. I agreed on the explicit condition that it not be used in any way for party political purposes.

“The use of my image on Tory publicity is a deliberate attempt to mislead the voters of Lozells East and Handsworth. It is a disgraceful abuse of the political process and flies in the face of David Cameron’s calls to ‘clean-up’ politics.

“The public are sick and tired of deceitful politicians. Now that they have been exposed I hope the voters Lozells East and Handsworth punish the Conservatives for their willful deception.

“In the meantime, I am seeking legal advice on what recourse I have against them’.