Posts Tagged ‘Mohammed Ishtiaq’

Respect join protest against greedy bankers

Citizens of Birmingham join the protests against corporate greed

Citizens of Birmingham join the protests against corporate greed

Last week, Respect party members, councillors and candidates joined a community protest against corporate greed.

Protest against greedy bankers

Protest against bankers

With banners highlighting the issues around banks holding the general population and government to ransom, local residents and community members joined the cavalcade of protest vehicles on the streets of Birmingham to make their voices heard.

Amongst them Respect party leader Salma Yaqoob, Birmingham councillors Mohammed Ishtiaq, Shokat Ali and Respect council candidate for the Hall Green ward, Rana Nazir.

Writing on her website, Salma Yaqoob said: “Today’s protest against bankers greed and their restrictions on credit, which is endangering many small businessess in these tough economic times, was great fun and highly effective!

Birmingham protest against bank credit

Anti-Bank Credit protest in Birmingham

“The media saw us off and we made a big impact in the Sparkbrook and Springfield wards, getting lots of hoots of support from car drivers and waves from well-wishers. Well done to all involved!”

More pictures here and here.
For more information and to join the campaign, visit

Midlands: Gaza events this week

EVENT: Public Meeting: Aid Gaza! Boycott Israel
SPEAKERS: Respect Councillor Mohammed Ishtiaq, Ray Gaston
VENUE: St Andrews Methodist Church, Pump Street [off High Street], Worcester
DATE: Tuesday 27th January 2009 | TIME: 7.30pm
CONTACT: 07966866837

INFO: Jointly organised by Worcestershire Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Worcester Stop the War Coalition, Worcester Palestine Group.
Facebook event page:


EVENT: Building Real and Lasting Links with Palestine
VENUE: Birmingham City Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1
DATE: Wednesday 28th January | TIME: 7.00pm

INFO: The Birmingham-Ramallah Twinning Initiative is hosting a practical public meeting on how to build grass root links with Palestine. Find out how you can help.
Facebook event page:


GAZA EVENT: Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign
Keeping up the pressure for Gaza and Palestine…
VENUE: Muslim Student Institute, Moseley Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham, United Kingdom
DATE: 29th January 2009 | TIME: 7.00pm
CONTACT: 07812172885

INFO: Continuing the pressure on the Israeli state for the massacre in Gaza and the daily war crimes committed in Palestine, the next step is a meeting to establish a stronger and broader Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign.
Convened by Stop the War Coalition, Salma Yaqoob, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Muslim Association of Britain.
Facebook event page:

Gallery: Save Gaza & Boycott Israel meeting – 18.01.09

Images from the 500-strong Gaza meeting, which took place at the Bordesley ‘Amaanah’ Centre in Birmingham on Sunday 18h January, 2009.

More images at the Birmingham Respect facebook group here.

Images: Mark Anthony France

Event: ‘Save Gaza & Boycott Israel’, Birmingham – 18.01.09

Salma Yaqoob addresses the crowds at the Gaza meeting in Birmingham

Salma Yaqoob addresses the crowds at the Gaza meeting in Birmingham

Report by Mark Anthony France
RESPECT National Committee

On Sunday 18th January 2009, following the 5,000-strong Demonstration through the streets of Birmingham the day before, over 500 people packed into the Bordesley Centre Camp Hill for the ‘Justice for Palestine’ meeting organised by Birmingham RESPECT.

As the size of the audience grew so did the atmosphere of excitement. This felt like a confirmation that RESPECT was a real force to be reckoned with in Birmingham politics. The audience was reflective of the local community and included a much higher number of young people and in particular young women than Respect Public meetings held in 2008

Aisharr Mahmood and Mariam Khan speak about Gaza

Aisharr Mahmood and Mariam Khan speak about Gaza

Mark Holland, who has been active in the Birmingham Labour movement for three decades, chaired the meeting and first to speak were two young women who have played a key role in mobilising solidarity with the people of Gaza over the past 3 weeks. Miriam Khan and Aisharr Mahmood spoke of the success of their work in using Facebook groups as a method of connecting with and organising young people and they received cheers from the audience. Miram and Aisha talked of how children and young people all over the planet have been affected by the images of slaughter caused by Israeli weapons.

Former US marine and Guantanamo Bay guard Chris Arendt speaks on Palestine

Former US marine and Guantanamo Bay guard Chris Arendt speaks on Palestine

Then Mark Holland introduced Chris Arendt a 24-year-old former Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp Guard who has been working with Moazzam Begg in a recent Caged Prisoners speaking tour. Chris talked about how impressed he is by the size and enthusiasm of the Palestinian Solidarity movement here in Birmingham he said “I am more used to speaking to small groups of concerned Christians and Liberals”.

Next up was the radical Anglican cleric Ray

Church minister Ray Gaston supports Gaza

Church minister Ray Gaston supports Gaza

Gaston who congratulated the audience for their hard work over the past three weeks in building the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign across the city. Ray explained how he was inspired to join RESPECT, he said “I was inspired by this woman [pointing to Salma Yaqoob] to join and to proudly stand as a candidate for RESPECT”. Ray went on to talk about the dangers of ‘Demo fatigue’ and noted that there was another national mobilisation called for London next weekend. Ray questioned whether now might be a better time to ‘think globally and act locally… to deepen the effectiveness of our campaign where we live’. Ray talked of the mobilisation tomorrow in nearby Lichfield against the factory that was manufacturing engines for the Israeli Drone aircraft used against the people of Gaza.

Ray was followed by Councillor Mohammed Ishtiaq who talked about the successes of RESPECT leading the way on Solidarity with Palestine in the Council Chamber using the clear moral arguments to bring New Labour, Lib Dem and Tory Councillors on Board with the Boycott Israel campaign. Cllr Ishtiaq talked about how many of these forces have now back tracked he said “Lip Service is no good….we need action in practice”, to growing applause Cllr Ishtiaq stressed that “the Boycott should start in our own homes”

At this point in the meeting George Galloway arrived and to rapturous applause joined Mohammed Ishtiaq on stage.

Kevin Ovenden [George Galloway’s Political Assistant and RESPECT National Committee Member] also joined the platform and after bringing greetings from the RESPECT activists of London’s East End spoke in some depth on the origins of the Zionism and its connection to the imperialist system that developed in 19th century Europe. When Kevin talked of the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 15th Century and described how they were given refuge by the Islamic peoples of the Levant and Mahgreb he reiterated that the “slurs against us that we are Anti Semetic…anti Jewish have no foundation…and have never had foundation… to stand up to the Israeli State is not to be Anti-Jewish”.

Salma Yaqoob on Gaza

Salma Yaqoob on Gaza

When Councillor Salma Yaqoob took the microphone it was to prolonged and warm applause. She said “I haven’t come here to inspire….. I have come here to be inspired by you!” and the applause started again. At some points in Salma’s heartfelt speech individuals in the audience began to cry at other points there was smiles and laughter. She talked of the energy she gained from the mass mobilisations of ordinary working class Brummies. She explained why she put so much effort into attempting to construct the broadest political coalition to give practical support to the Palestinian people. Salma said she “didn’t regret arguing till midnight with councillors from other political parties to finally win agreement on the Boycott Israel Campaign”.

Salma began to say how proud she was of the role of the RESPECT Councillors and members in piling on the moral pressure. At this point the meeting exploded in spontaneous chanting of ‘FREE, FREE PALESTINE! FREE, FREE PALESTINE!’ Evoking the spirit of 3 weeks of mass action…Others began to chant “SALMA IS OUR MP!”

There was a standing ovation for Salma before George Galloway RESPECT MP for Bethnal Green and Bow took the microphone.

George Galloway encouraged support for the Gaza Aid convoy

George Galloway encouraged support for the Gaza Aid convoy

George spoke of the double standards and hypocrisy of the media focusing on the failure of the media to describe Hamas as ‘the Democratically Elected Government of Gaza’ and spoke of his disgust at the news earlier in the day that Brown is sending the British Navy ‘not to bring aid to Gaza but to tighten the siege’ to ‘prevent Hamas from getting weapons’… George said ‘What is wrong with the Palestinians having weapons to defend themselves from Israeli state aggression?’… ‘The Palestinian people need arms to defend themselves’. Towards the end of his speech George talk of the plans to establish a Convoy…. A Convoy of Aid to travel from Scotland through all the major population centres of the UK across to the continent …. through France, Spain across to Morocco and through all of North Africa to Egypt.
George said … ‘…and when we get to Rafah, if the Egyptian government will not let us through we will smash our way through!” Our aid to Gaza will get through!

After a second standing ovation the meeting began to disperse. Hundreds of people had signed contact sheets to become more involved with RESPECT’s work, Hundreds of pounds were collected for RESPECT and over 100 copies of ‘the RESPECT Paper were sold.

The end of this meeting marked the consolidation of the mass base in the working class that RESPECT activists in Birmingham have been building over the past year. This mass base has been tested through 3 weeks of intensive internationalist struggle, fighting for Justice for the Palestinians.
Birmingham RESPECT is in a powerful position to turn this mass base into a electoral breakthrough with the election of Salma Yaqoob as the MP for Hall Green in the next General Election.

Images: Mark Anthony France

Salma Yaqoob a knock-out with Amir Khan

Salma Yaqoob and fellow Respect councillors with boxer Amir Khan

Salma Yaqoob and fellow Respect councillors with boxer Amir Khan in Small Heath, Birmingham

Respect Cllr Salma Yaqoob relived old memories this month, as she visited her old school to see her son perform in in his first Christmas nativity play, in the same week as she joined champion boxer Amir Khan at a charity fundraiser in Birmingham.

“Today I had a proud mum moment. I went to watch my son, Aslan, perform as the inn keeper in his infants school nativity play! I was taken aback by how grown up and confident he seemed on stage,” she said.

Cllr Salma Yaqoob with her youngest son Aslan

Cllr Salma Yaqoob with her youngest son Aslan

“It was especially poignant because he is my youngest at six years old. He attends Colmore Infant School. The teachers are brilliant and I have a special affection for the Head Teacher, Viv Randall, who was my teacher when I was at junior school. The school manages that rare balance of fun and learning.”

On Sunday 14th, Cllr Yaqoob was at a charity fundraiser with the boxer and Olympic champion Amir Khan.

“We were raising money for a hospital to be built in Pakistan so that poor people could access free health care. On a night when he could mixing with stars at the glitzy BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Award event, he chose to come to Small Heath in Birmingham to support a worthy cause.

“I was impressed with his humility and commitment. The event was attended by hundreds of people. It was organised by Councillor Shoukat Ali Khan and hosted with panache by Respect’s own Councillor Mohammed Ishtiaq, who managed to get people to donate with his enthusiasm and humour,” explained Salma.

Public Meeting: Pakistan in Crisis

  Report by Abu Jamal and Adam Yosef

George Galloway MP in Birmingham

George Galloway MP in Birmingham

A public meeting entitled ‘Pakistan in Crisis’, held by Respect at the Birmingham Central Mosque in the Highgate area of the city on Saturday (18th Oct), was attended by over 250 people.

Salma Yaqoob, city councillor for Sparkbrook, set the tone for the meeting by condemning the recent US military operations in Pakistan which have created numerous civilian casualties; and spoke of the hypocrisy of the British media for failing to report these attacks “on a sovereign nation”.

“We care about every single human being, whether they’re in Birmingham, Baghdad or Pakistan. We do not have the double standards of the British government and media,” she said.

She called for a genuine democratic Pakistan that would not tolerate US military attacks on its own people and explained the current crisis in Pakistan could only be resolved by ordinary people struggling for peace, justice and equality.

Salma Yaqoob speaks about Pakistan

Salma Yaqoob speaks about Pakistan

“I want to see a democratic Pakistan, a peaceful Pakistan, free of all corrupt influences. We need a Pakistan without religious intolerance, that’s what most Pakistanis want. They don’t need Western leaders lecturing them on religion.”

George Galloway, Respect’s MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, spoke at length on the recent history of Pakistan and Kashmir, and received a rousing reception upon declaring the “people of Kashmir have every right and dignity to fight for the freedom of their land.”

He briefly focused on “The Hangman” Zia-Ul-Haq (a reference to General Zia’s execution of former PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1979), highlighting how Zia became America’s favourite in a line of ‘dictators’. Galloway went on to challenge the corrupt nature of General Pervez Musharraf and how his craven support for US policy in the region had not protected the Pakistani people but exploited them for financial gain.

The outspoken Member of Parliament told a diverse audience that recent bombings in the south Asian state were a direct result of the unstable war in Afghanistan. He also claimed the ‘War on Terror’, which has recently spilled into the country with US bombing strikes frequently targeting South Waziristan, was being allowed due to the complacency of British Pakistani MPs.

Audience at Birmingham Central Mosque

Audience at Birmingham Central Mosque

“I love Pakistan, all my life I have loved it, even before it became two countries,” he said. “We are reminded that there are four Pakistani MPs in Parliament. A fact I nearly forgot as none of them has raised a finger or voice against the US-led attack on Pakistan. They’re just there to be reeled in when their political leaders want to justify an attack on Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or Pakistan.”

Galloway also noted the political silence of another MP, Labour’s Roger Godsiff, whose Parliamentary Hall Green seat Salma Yaqoob intends to challenge at the next General Election. His views were echoed by Yaqoob herself, who urged Muslims from the region to increase pressure on Asian councillors or deny them their vote.

“We need to tell these people who come to our homes asking for our votes, and there are over twenty Asian councillors in Birmingham, we need to tell them they will not get our votes unless they do something to help the people of Pakistan,” she explained.

“They [US/UK coalition] haven’t learnt from the past and are taking their war into Pakistan. As people from all backgrounds, and I stand here as a proud British citizen, we cannot allow this to happen in our name.

“We have that special responsibility as British citizens to pressure our government to stop bombing Afghanistan. If Afghanistan hadn’t been bombed, Pakistan would have never been bombed,” she added.

The meeting was primarily attended by members of the Pakistani, Somali and Arab community, many of whom identified with the political climate in Pakistan. Galloway also touched on the crisis in Somalia, reminding the audience their taxes contributed towards the conflict in the African country.

“In Somalia, the country is occupied by Ethiopian armed forces, paid for by you. Perhaps you didn’t realise the British government is supplying and paying for a foreign army to occupy Somalia.

“They’re doing so using your money while children still suffer a famine on both sides.”

He concluded by imploring those in attendance to support Salma Yaqoob’s campaign to become MP for the Birmingham Hall Green constituency, in an effort to highlight, challenge and resolve many of the issues that had been discussed.

George galloway in Birmingham Central Mosque

George galloway in Birmingham Central Mosque

“Can you imagine if Salma Yaqoob was standing in Parliament as an MP. You might not see her in Downing Street but you’d see her in Parliament day after day speaking out against the oppression of the downtrodden people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Pakistan. So you have to support and raise funds for Salma’s campaign so she can become the MP for Hall green in Birmingham.”

His appeal was reiterated by fellow speaker and activist Yvonne Ridley.

“There are many reasons to support Respect and for supporting Salma Yaqoob. We need as much help as we can get to continue holding rallies like this and getting Salma Yaqoob into Parliament is going to cost money.

The Birmingham Respect team with George Galloway and Yvonne Ridley

The Birmingham Respect team with George Galloway and Yvonne Ridley

“We don’t have corporate fat cats throwing money towards us and that’s a good thing. Please dig deep and give generously. You have a fantastic candidate in Salma Yaqoob, someone who cares about issues locally, nationally and internationally.”

The gathering was chaired by Councillor Mohammed Ishtiaq. Other speakers included Councillor Naeem Ullah Khan, local activist Richard Hutcher and Pakistani political commentator Choudary Tasadiq Arvi.

In pictures: ‘Pakistan in Crisis’ public meeting

A selection if images from the ‘Crisis in Pakistan’ public meeting, held by Birmingham Respect at the Birmingham Central Mosque on Saturday 18th October, 2008.

For more images, please see the Birmingham Respect facebook group. Thank you.