Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

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

Advertisements

Join the Respect Party

Join the Respect Party

Join the Respect Party

The Respect Party’s membership is on the increase. Do you want to be part of a progressive political force in Britain, representing peace, justice and equality?

Be a part of Respect. Click here to join and find out more

Politics in Birmingham… A Laughing Matter?

OBV: Politics in Birmingham... A Laughing Matter

OBV: Politics in Birmingham... A Laughing Matter?

Salma Yaqoob will be speaking at the ‘Politics in Birmingham… A Laughing Matter?‘ event at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery tomorrow. She will be joined by comedienne Shazia Mirza, Simon Woolley, James Robertson and Steve Brooks.

The event will take place at the Obama’s People Exhibition where there will be a great opportunity to view the exhbition privately and enjoy a good Friday night out with comedy, complimentary refreshments, drinks and canapes.

Spaces are limited but if you would like to attend the free event, organised by Operation Black Vote, call Jyoti on: 0208 983 5460.

EVENT: Politics in Birmingham… A Laughing Matter?

Date: Friday 17th July, 2009

Time: 6.00pm – 9.00pm

Venue: The Obama’s People Exhbition, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH

Salma Yaqoob and Imran Khan in Birmingham

Salma Yaqoob and Imran Khan on the BBC's 'This Week' show

Salma Yaqoob and Imran Khan on the BBC's 'This Week' show

Cricket legend and Pakistani politcian Imran Khan will be joined by Respect party leader and Birmingham city councillor Salma Yaqoob in Birmingham tomorrow to speak on the current political and humanitarian situation in Pakistan.

The event, organised by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf UK, hopes to raise awareness of the crisis in the South Asian country and to encourage the British population, especially the large Pakistani community in the city of Birmingham, to support calls for peace and stability in the region.

EVENT:

Date: Friday 17th July, 2009

Time: 6.00pm

Location: Pearl Palace, Upper Trinity Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B9 4EG

Details: Free Entry

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.

Salma Yaqoob speaks at Birmingham Votes ’09

Birmingham Votes '09

Birmingham Votes '09

On Saturday 9th May, 2009, Councillor Salma Yaqoob attended the Birmingham Votes ’09 event held by the Electoral Reform Society at the Quaker Meeting House in central Birmingham. 

Salma spoke at the event’s Question Time segment alongside cross-party city representatives including John Hemming MP (Lib Dem) and Richard Burden MP (Labour).

 

Electorial Reform Society Political Campaigns Officer Michael Calderbank said:

We all face a real challenge in raising the profile of the European Elections and the importance of democratic representation and we hope that the event made some contribution towards this effort.”

 

 

 

Question Time: Salma Yaqoob on Geert Wilders

Salma Yaqoob on BBC Question Time

Salma Yaqoob on BBC Question Time

Respect leader and Birmingham City councillor Salma Yaqoob featured on this week’s Question Time panel, joining presenter David Dimbleby and alongside Labour MP Liam Byrne, Conservative MP Justine Greening, former Sun editor and columnist Kelvin MacKenzie and television gardener and writer Monty Don.

Salma spoke on a number of issues including Dutch MP Geert Wilders, the economy and banking,  child truancy, climate change and the drug reclassification policy.

Salma Yaqoob on BBC Question Time

Salma Yaqoob on BBC Question Time

On yesterday’s UK entry ban of controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders, she said:

“Personally, I am uncomfortable with censorship.  Does Mr Wilders have the right to provoke or even be offensive?  Yes, he does under freedom of speech, and if he’s being barred from the country simply because he offends people’s religious sensibilities then no matter how personally distasteful I might find his views, I wouldn’t support a ban.

“However, society does have a right and indeed a duty to protect itself from people who incite hatred and incite violence and if he was deemed to be in breach of our laws in this regard then, in that context, a ban would be justifiable.”

“Although I find his [Wilder’s] indignation about being banned and calling for the upholding of the freedom of speech abit hypocritical considering he advocates banning the Qur’an,” she added.

Salma Yaqoob challenges Kelvin MacKenzie on Question Time

Salma Yaqoob challenges Kelvin MacKenzie on Question Time

She also spoke on the state of our economy and finances and whether certain employees of banks, that were saved using public money, deseved bonuses.  She challenged Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie, who claimed such bank employees were ‘talented people’ who couldn’t be stopped.

“Talented people?  They have wrecked our economy! It’s absolutely shameless and digusting,” she responded.

“These are people who’ve wrecked our economy and I don’t believe a word of this ‘contract’ argument. These people would not have a job now were it not for the British tax payers bailing out the banks. They’re lucky they’re on a salary, never mind the cheek to ask for a bonus in these circumstances.

“It’s also politicians who should be in the dock because it was their decision to take away the safety mechanism, to introduce de-regulation which allowed the unvetted greed. It allowed the bankers to make the risky decisions without any proper scrutiny. It freed them up to reward themselves with these incredible bonuses and at the same time politicians from the Conservative party as well as the Labour party championed this neo-liberal economic orthodoxy which has brought us this disaster,” explained Salma.

Salma Yaqoob on BBC Question Time

Salma Yaqoob on BBC Question Time

“I think it’s really disgusting that we have now a public culture where if you commit huge crimes, which are resulting in millions of ordinary people losing their jobs and their homes, you only have to come up with a half-hearted apology, no accoutability, no sanctions, no punishments – and if you’re a politician you can lead our country into war on a lie and not have to resign – there is something really deeply wrong with a democratic system we have where instead of people being made an example of, we now have the lesson that ‘you can do this in the future, you can be this reckless because there’ll be no deterrent’,” she concluded.

Watch the complete programme on BBC iPlayer via the links below (UK only).

BBC Question Time – (12th February 2009)

BBC Question Time Extra [BBC News 24] – (12th February 2009)

An edited 30-minute verson of Thursday’s Question Time will be shown on Saturday 14th February 2009, at 8.30pm on BBC News 24.

Website link and presenter biogs here.