Posts Tagged ‘Muslims’

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.

NEWS: Birmingham EDL Protests – 08.08.09

Multicultural Birmingham comes out in full force against far-right troublemakers

Multicultural Birmingham comes out in full force against far-right threat

Below are a few useful links to news stories relating to last week’s English Defence League protest in Birmingham City Centre and Unite Against Fascism’s counter-protest, in which Respect party leader and Birmingham City Councillor Salma Yaqoob spoke against racism and fascism.

Councillor Salma Yaqoob commented:

“The instigators of this demonsrtration are fascist thugs. They are coming to our city with one intention only;  to sow racist division by stirring up anti-Muslim hatred.

“One of their ringleaders made their intentions very clear when he publicly stated his opposition to ‘all Muslims practising their faith in Britiain’, and admitted links with the BNP.

“The police have assured me that they will deal with any troublemakers. I am concerned, though, that the West Midlands Police are playing down the racist nature of this protest, and the links the protesters have with far-right organisation. Everyone has a right to voice their opinions, but no-one has the right to incite hatred against others on the grounds of race or religion. It is very important that the West Midlands Police act firmly to deal with any incitement to racist hatred.

“Birmingham is a multi-cultural city and proud of it. It is also important that people of all faiths and cultures stand together in the spirit of peace and unity. We must show these people that they are not wanted here, and that Birmingham will not be divided by race or faith”.

LATEST NEWS:

Right wing rioters threaten more protests in Birmingham city centre – Birmingham Mail, 17.08.09

Anti-Extremist protests in Birmingham: racism takes to the streets – Charlie Salmon, The Sikh Times, 11.08.09

Salma Yaqoob condemns racist protesters – Pakistan Daily, 10.08.09

Battle of Bimringham: 35 held after riots – Louisa Pilbeam, The Mirror

City of Birmingham in UK sees anti-fascist action – Pakistan Daily, 10.08.09

Birmingham sees anti-Fascist action – The Stirrer, 09.08.09

‘Patriot League’ plans more clashes with anti-fascist activists – The Guardian, 09.08.09

Police review anti-Islamic rally – BBC News, 09.08.09

35 arrests in Birmingham after rival protesters clash – The Telegraph, 09.08.09

Arrests at Anti-Islamic protests – BBC News, 09.08.09

Salma Yaqoob rejects 7/7 conspiracy theories

Salma Yaqoob rejects 7/7 conspiracy theories

Salma Yaqoob rejects 7/7 conspiracy theories

The BBC2 programme The Conspiracy Files, broadcast yesterday on 30th June, examined the spread of conspiracy theories about the 7/7 bombings, and the arguments contained in the DVD The Ripple Effect.

Dr Mohammed Naseem

Dr Mohammed Naseem

The programme included scenes of a meeting held at Birmingham Central Mosque in which Dr Mohammed Naseem argued that “The Ripple Effect is more convincing than the government statement”.

Respect party leader and Birmingham City councillor Salma Yaqoob rejects these conspiracy theories:

“We do not need conspiracy theories to understand the 7/7 bombings. Two of the bombers left video messages explaining exactly why they carried out this terrible atrocity. The government may be in denial about the fact that its war in Iraq encouraged terrorism at home. But we have to face facts.

“Four young men, angry at our government’s foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, lost any sense of humanity and inflicted terrible suffering on innocent people. We have to confront and challenge those who justify and encourage these crimes, and we have to put an end to the injustice caused by our foreign policy that creates such a well of bitterness and hatred.

“There is a growing tendency throughout the world for many people to doubt anything that they are told by official sources. Trust in political institutions has been eroded and few people believe that those in power are honest and truthful. Many Muslims feel that almost everything they read about themselves in the media is false or hostile. And we know that the government lied about something as serious as the reasons for going to war in Iraq.  This is fertile ground for the growth of conspiracy theories.

“An open and public enquiry into the Iraq war, that does not seek to protect the reputations of those who led us into this disastrous conflict, might go some way towards undermining these conspiracy theories and focussing attention on the real issues.”

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