A manifesto we can embrace

The suggested manifesto below - cribbed from a letter to the Guardian and aimed at Labour (no chance there then!) - is surely the perfect one for Respect?

The Labour party seems to be in search of an identity and a policy agenda. About time too. Here are some suggestions for a manifesto, all of which look like common sense.

Repeal all the coalition's NHS legislation and start all over again. Impose effective regulation of privatised utilities, capping their profits and prices. Take the railways back into public ownership as the franchises end. Abandon PFI and find ways of terminating the existing contracts. Stop privatising. It is only "efficient" at maximising profit for private vested interests. Cap rents in the private sector and begin a substantial social housing programme. Make the living wage mandatory, thereby transferring costs from the public purse to the firms who are currently subsidised by the taxpayer. Stop persecuting the unemployed and disabled, and sack Atos.

Clean out the Augean stables of HMRC, start collecting taxes from the rich and shift taxation from basic income and everyday consumption towards property. Abandon Trident and new aircraft carriers, and convert shipyards and nuclear weapons facilities to producing green energy technologies. Stop fracking. Invest in home insulation, which will reduce demand for gas and electricity and create jobs. Mount a full investigation into the illicit activities of the police and special branch, especially as directed against innocent activists. Ban lobbying and remove private interests from direct influence on government. Implement Leveson.

These are modest proposals, and should win votes. But it would be good to see a political party proposing policies because they are the right thing to do.

John WaltonLancaster

Greatness to Genocide Events

Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) UK presents one day conferences in Manchester and London.

To get more details and reserve your place at these events please click on the image above.

Stop Islamophobia Week is back for 2013

"The soldier told the mother to make the child stop crying. But when the baby continued to cry, he took it from the mother and slit its throat. Then he laughed", recounted Munira, who lost 22 members of her family.

These events happened in the heart of Europe, just 18 years ago.

This child and more than 8000 other victims were murdered simply because they were Muslims. Yet, as hatred against Muslims rises once again across Europe, the anniversary of this massacre each July is practically forgotten.

This is why MPACUK launches Stop Islamophobia Week on 8th – 14th July every year, to remember our brothers and sisters who died in the Srebrenica Massacre and to take action to stop the growing Islamophobia we are all facing today.

Just recently, after the Woolwich attacks this year, Islamophobia against Muslims has dramatically increased with more than 160 cases being reported to an Islamophobia monitoring hotline. They include nine attacks on mosques, assaults, racial abuse and anti-Muslim graffiti. An improvised petrol bomb was thrown at a mosque in Milton Keynes during Friday prayers, while attacks have also been reported in Gillingham, Braintree, Bolton and Cambridge.

Insha-Allah we will be raising awareness of the threat of Islamophobia and what we all need to do to prevent such hate ever reaching the point where Muslims face ethnic cleansing and genocide, as they did just a few years ago in Bosnia.

We are calling on all our Muslim brothers and sisters and every person who cares about humanity and justice to be part of Stop Islamophobia Week. Islamophobia is a threat to us all, the evidence is all too real:

• An Islamic boarding school was set on fire while innocent children and staff were inside.
• An Islamic community centre and mosque was burnt to the ground. This is not the first arson attack on a mosque.
• Muslim sisters have had their scarves pulled off in the street and been spat at and verbally abused.
• A Muslim student, Yasir Abdelmouttalib, was left with severe brain injuries after being attacked on his way to the mosque by an anti-Muslim gang, who beat him into a coma.
• Imams have been attacked by Islamophobic thugs, entering the mosque and gauging their eyes.

Every single day Muslims face abuse, discrimination and Islamophobia in the media that further fans the flames of hatred. Now is the time to learn the lessons from Srebrenica. Thousands were murdered and tens of thousands forced from their homes for the simple reason that they were Muslims, while the world stood by and watched. Now is the time to say, “Never again” …and to put those words into action.

Source: www.mpacuk.org 

We said never again

Most people didn't know who the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) were until it was too late, and almost 200,000 of them were dead between 1992 and 1995, particularly 8000 Muslim men and boys were systematically massacred in July 1995 in Srebrenica. The very majority of people didn't even know who the Rwandans were until 800,000 were ethnically cleansed. We failed all those and many more people in the past and we said “Never Again”.

Right now, the fate of Burma's Rohingya people is hanging by a thread. Racist thugs have distributed leaflets threatening to wipe out this small Burmese minority. Already children have been hacked to death and unspeakable murders committed. All signs are pointing to a coming horror, unless we act.

 Torture, gang rape, execution style killings -- human rights groups are using the term "ethnic cleansing" to describe the brutality in Burma. Already more than 120,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee, many to makeshift camps near the border, while others have fled in boats only to drown, starve, or be shot at by coastguards from neighbouring countries. Reports show that violence is escalating -- earlier this year President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency after another round of deadly attacks, and it’s just a matter of time until there is a large scale massacre. 

Genocides happen because we don't get concerned enough until the crime is committed. The Rohingya are a peaceful and very poor people. They are hated because their skin is darker and their Religion and the majority fears they're 'taking jobs away'. There are 800,000 of them, and they could be gone if we don't act. We have failed too many peoples, let's not fail the Rohingya.

Genocides don’t happen when governments oppose them, but the Burmese regime has been leaning the wrong way. Recently, a government spokesperson admitted that authorities were enforcing a rule that limits the Rohingya population to having only two children and forces couples seeking to get married to obtain special permission. And experts report that government authorities have stood by or even participated in acts of “ethnic cleansing.” President Sein has finally been forced to acknowledge what’s happening to the Rohingya, but he has so far refused to implement plans to stop the violence and protect those at risk.

Burmese President Thein Sein has the power, personnel and resources to protect the Rohingya; all he has to do is give the word to make it happen. In days, he'll arrive in Europe to sell his country’s new openness to trade. If EU leaders greet him with a strong request to protect the Rohingya, he’s likely to do it.

Until he does, the risk of genocide hovers like a dark cloud over not just Burma, but the world. Through their trade relations, UK PM Cameron and French President Hollande have massive leverage with Sein -- if they press him to act when he meets with them this month, it could save lives. Let’s make sure they do. We've failed too many peoples, let's not fail the Rohingya.

Respect councillor leads campaign against grooming

Respect's Bradford council leader Alyas Karmani has written a sermon which will be heard in mosques throughout the country today which will condemn sexual grooming.

The sermon will highlight how the Koran emphasises that Muslims must protect children and the vulnerable. As the BBC reports it......
It was supported by leading Muslim organisations, a spokesman said.
The Muslim Council of Britain, the Mosque and Imams National Advisory Board and the Islamic Society of Britain had all pledged to devote sermons to the issue of sexual grooming, said TAG, a not-for-profit organisation set up to tackle sexual grooming in the UK.
The sermon, written by Alyas Karmani, an imam and youth worker in Keighley, West Yorkshire (and Respect council leader in Bradford) opens with a quotation from the Koran forbidding "sexual indecency, wickedness and oppression of others".
These "disgraceful actions" must be wholeheartedly condemned, it adds.
It finishes with a call for action and reminds Muslims to speak out if they see any "evil action".
Mr Karmani said: "There's a profound disrespect culture when it comes to treating women. One of the reasons we feel this is the case is poor role models.
"Access to pornography, which also objectifies women, is creating a culture where men are now ambiguous when it comes to the issue of violence against women."

Mr Karmani said the sermon was being circulated in an effort to counter what he claimed was a taboo in mosques about talking about sex.

The sermon is the first phase of a "hard-hitting" campaign following a number of high-profile child grooming cases involving Asian men in Bradford, Oxford, Rochdale and Telford.
While sexual grooming and child abuse affected all sections of society and was perpetrated by people of all ethnic groups, the Koran exhorted Muslims to act against evil and injustice and create just societies.
On Thursday, seven men who abused girls as part of a sadistic sex grooming ring based in Oxford were jailed for life at the Old Bailey.
Two of the men were of east African origin and five of Pakistani origin.
Former Labour MP for Keighley Ann Cryer said she was "delighted" by the move, which she said showed the issue was being taken more seriously than in the past.
Ms Cryer said she was approached by mothers worried about grooming in 2002, and was frustrated when police, social services and mosque elders took no action.
"I just hope this message gets beyond the mosque to the non-attenders, because by and large the people who behave like this don't go to the mosque," she said.

Met Police Smear Campaign Against Stephen Lawrence Family: I know I was there. (By Lee Jasper)

The recent revelation by the Guardian newspaper that in 1993, the family of Stephen Lawrence and those campaign groups that supported them were spied upon by police, in an effort to smear and undermine the campaign for justice will no doubt surprise some, not however me.
Former Met undercover police officer Peter Francis says he and others were employed to ‘monitor and smear’ the Lawrence’s and their supporters, including he says a special focus on all of the ‘black justice campaigns’

I have started an e-petition calling for the PM to recall the McPherson Inquiry team to examine these issues. You can sign here
As part of the National Black Caucus I had the honour of working with others in those dark days in the immediate aftermath of Stephens’s tragic and sickening murder. I helped organize demonstrations, public meetings and helped orchestrate the political strategy to secure a public inquiry.

The Commissioner back then was on Paul Condon who I knew when he was an inspector. In February 1987 he secured promotion as Deputy Assistant Commissioner in charge of West London.

It was here that our paths crossed in the late 1980's., I was Chair of Mangrove Community Association All Saints Road Notting Hill. Condon was the kind of copper that “Life on Mars” probably based on.

He engaged and was actively involved in leading his officers in a relentless campaign that sought to smear us in the press and falsely criminalize the local black community.

We at the Mangrove experienced this on a daily basis that culminated in the false arrest and imprisonment of the leader of the Mangrove and legendary community father.

The Met and Condon wanted to close down the Mangrove a bastion of black power activists that constantly challenged police corruption, racism and brutality. All thirteen of those arrested in the ‘drugs raid’ were acquitted in…wait for this… thirteen separate consecutive trials, including Frank Crichlow.

Condon himself gave evidence at Franks trail in a desperate effort to have an innocent man jailed. He failed and Frank subsequently received what was at its time the largest civil award settlement on British judicial history.

Under his watch reigned “The Black Watch “ unit operating out of Notting Hill police station a group of police officers that targeted Black youths and planted them with drugs. He was also responsible for swamp policing of the 1987 and 1988 Notting Hill Carnivals that saw brutal policing and disturbances.

So it comes as no surprise that Condon as Commissioner would have engaged in such a despicable campaign to ensure that he Lawrence family and their supporters like me should be smeared and arrested on real or trumped up charges if possible. That was Paul Condon’s modus operandi, his signature move. This was the standard model of policing protest borrowed straight out of the 1960’s US COINTELPRO programme. The Met at the time knew of my very public and high profile involvement in the Lawrence campaign and no doubt hoped that he could finish of the job he failed to complete at the Mangrove.

These new revelations should now be the basis of a new full inquiry and all those surviving or retired officers engaged in the covert Metropolitan Police surveillance of the Lawrence’s and supporters should be thoroughly investigated and where found to have crossed the line face disciplinary or criminal charges. 

The most damming fact is all this information was denied to the McPherson public inquiry and fact quite staggering in its implications. The question to be asked and answered immediately is which police officers were involved in the original surveillance operation and who took the Mets decision not to present this critical information to the inquiry? It is beyond belief that the then Home secretary of the time Jack Straw did not even know about this. The decision to engage in this disgraceful campaign must have been taken at the highest level of the Met Police.

It is not good enough for the Met to say (as they have) that this will now form part of an ongoing general investigation into undercover policing. Neither can Prime Minister David Cameron's call today for a new 'police investigation' misunderstands the serious nature of problem. 

Now I here that 
Mark Ellison QC is already looking into allegations of police corruption in the initial investigation of the murder and that he will look into this matter. Nobody knows who is he working for and what is his remit and who is he reporting to? This travesty of a response is just more of the same old same old, placate the public so as to make them believe we are doing something. Nobody trust either the Met Police, Boris Johnson or the Independent Police Complaints Commission on this issue.

This is much more serious than that and ought to result in the immediate recall of McPherson Public Inquiry team so that the full detail of what happened and who was involved can be forensically explored.

The Met’s reputation with London’s Black communities is the worst it’s been in my 30 years experience and getting worse every day.  Deaths in police custody, harvesting black peoples DNA, stop and search, the use of the dreaded joint enterprise law, 2011 civil disturbances alongside routine everyday police racism has created a toxic atmosphere in some areas.

Not all of this is entirely the result of police racism. The catalyst for these worsening relationships is result of the malign influence of Boris Johnson and London Tories who from day one of his election actively campaigned to rid the service of the tag of ‘institutional racism’.

To ensure that Boris got his way he ensured the employment of a series of nodding dog Commissioners most of whom did not have the character or strength of will of say a Sir John Steven who was notorious for not entertaining political interference of any kind. The combination of a culture of Tory ideological prejudice against the McPherson recommendations and weak Commissioners has led to this pretty pass.

The Lawrence’s search for justice has always at its root represented a wider public campaign for police accountability. Now that we know the depth of the conspiracy those guilty of crimes and misdemeanors must now face justice or an already toxic relationship between black communities and the Met will become radioactive.

Were women created solely for the purpose of becoming wives & mothers?

I take a deep sigh and brace myself – I know exactly where this conversation is heading. It troubles me to see yet another sister has shifted her entire focus on marriage and motherhood. Of course, marriage is a highly recommended Sunnah and brings many benefits for us spiritually, mentally and physically. But when our struggle and strive overwhelmingly revolves around marriage and motherhood then know that there is a problem in our understanding of the religion.
And what causes an intelligent, hardworking, ambitious single sister to now accept that her goal is simply to be a married woman with children? Since when did the ONLY purpose in life revolve around matrimony and offspring? It begs the question – were women created solely for the purpose of becoming wives and mothers?
God answers this in Chapter 51 (Surah Ad Dhaariyaat) “And I did not create the jinn and humankind except to worship Me.”
Our goal in life is to worship God. This is not to say we sit in prayer all night and day but rather the beauty of Islam is such that (with the correct intention and staying within the Islamic framework) worship takes numerous forms. Being a mother, a daughter, a friend, a student, a public speaker, a poet, a writer, a teacher, a doctor, an artist, a scientist, a political figure, a news correspondent, a blogger, a babysitter, a hair dresser, taking part in discussion and debating can all fall under the umbrella of worship.
Despite this, the community pushes forth another ideology that a truly ‘successful’ person is a married one who quickly progresses to parenthood! The amount of pressure that is applied on Muslims getting ‘hitched’ is not the same as it is on bettering themselves spiritually, improving their character or engaging in political matters. Marriage is only a tool in becoming closer to God it is not the end goal. The purpose of our life is not ONLY to become spouses with children.
Let’s look at some examples of women who thrived in the Deen. The wife of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) was a successful business woman with her own caravan trade managing a number of agents. Rufaidah Aslamiyyah was a specialist in medicine and surgery and was known to tend to the sick and injured in the battlefields. Khansa bint Amr was a renowned poetess whose poetry was said that none could match. In fact, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would encourage her to recite more of her poems! Umm Umara was a warrior blessed with many honors. And her most honorable role came during the battle of Uhud where she stood firm fighting against the enemies when others had fled.
Women were also very much involved with politics. They contributed and advised on numerous issues; voicing their opinions and criticizing matters regarding the state. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself would seek advice regarding state matters from his wives. It was Umm Salamah’s consultations that eased the heated situation surrounding the treaty of Hudaibiah whereby the weak terms of the treaty had angered the companions. Similarly Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) would often consult Shifa bint Abdullah; an intellectual and scholastic woman in certain matters.
Another academic and competent scholar was Fatima bin Qais. Her counsel was sought on the selection of the next Caliph by the nomination committee when Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) died. Amra bint Abdur-Rahman gave legal verdicts in Medina after the time of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Companions, and some of her opinions took precedence over opinions of other authorities.
Shifa bint Abdullah ibn Shams was appointed by the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself as the administrator and accountant of the largest market at that time; Medina. She was also later reappointed by Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) during his time of reign as Caliph. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) was a female jurist whose rulings are till this day studied in Universities across the globe. Umm Salaam was also known for giving several legal rulings during her time.
The list goes on. And we see from these few examples that Muslim women flourished religiously, academically and politically. They worshipped God through specialising in their fields to defend their religion. They worked to protect the Ummah, they used their knowledge to benefit others and they used their skills for the betterment of society. This is something we can all take heed from male or female; married or single.
Those scholars who study the role of women in Islam will notice that throughout the different periods of history, women were actively engaged in every field of endeavour, be it politics, government, or learning. Women were not confined, as some have assumed, to mothering and household occupations.” [Salah al-Din al-Munajjid]
Many of us have heard/read the famous Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him): The Muslim Ummah is like one body. If the eye is in pain then the whole body is in pain and if the head is in pain then the whole body is in pain”. Our bodies, families, friends and neighbours all have specific rights over us but at the same time so do the millions of other people around the Globe. Their welfare is also OUR responsibility whether we are male or female.
Yet, there is an imbalance in determining priorities in the minds of Muslims. We are infatuated in following a self-interested version of Islam whereby our own needs and desires are placed above anyone else’s. And this epidemic has distracted us from the higher purpose in life – worshipping God and following His commands in their entirety. Do we not see that by focusing on fulfilling only a specific segment in Islam we neglect other imperative commands of God? We create an imbalance not only in our lives and religion but also in society affecting the Ummah as a whole.
Let us refrain from exerting all our focus on only one aspect of our lives and focus on building our relationship with God instead. Let us learn our religion, let’s embrace opportunities to do Dawah, let us work on our relationships with others, let us improve our spiritual state and let’s help fulfil one of the most important duties of a Muslim – to love, support, defend and protect the Ummah. For nothing, nothing is more tragic then standing in front of our Lord on the Day Of Judgement knowing that we neglected one of the most critical forms of worship…
Beautifully Written by Iram

Galloway fights closure of three museums

George Galloway has put down a parliamentary motion and written to the Secretary of State for Arts and Culture over the threatened closure of three museums, including the National Media Museum in Bradford.

Along with the media museum, two others in the same group - the National Railway Museum in York and the Museum of Science and Industry - are threatened with cuts or closure in the forthcoming spending review. Galloway points out that the three are integral to Britain's cultural heritage, have outstanding records which would be even better with more adequate funding. The closure of the media museum, he went on, would have a devastating effect on attempts to revive Bradford's city centre.