Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Grooming of girls and Asian gangs

Having led a vocal and strong campaign over the past four years against the crime of grooming I am heartened that CEOP have produced this report. I strongly believe that without the fantastic coverage of the Times Newspaper and with my commentary piece we may have not be where we are, I am proud that we initiated a national debate which has led to this report. My only hope is that this report is now followed up with lasting action.

The Ramadhan Foundation provided extensive evidence to CEOP and welcomes the inclusion of some parts of our evidence. Since I raised this in January 2011 and with the media coverage of recent convictions; I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received from the Asian community and their total abhorrence at these sick crimes.

Let me be clear, there are Asian gangs operating in this country who are grooming white teenagers, these gangs think that white girls are less valuable than girls from their own community which is sick and abhorrent. The Asian community have offered their revulsion at these crimes many times and we do so again today; for as long as these girls suffer I will continue to speak out whatever the cost.

I welcome the report’s finding that these crimes are not exclusively an Asian problem, CEOP’s findings that 20% of culprits are Asian, which means 80% are not Asian, this is what we have been saying all along. I ame disappointed that the media and Politicians seem to only focus on the Asian cases when we should be tackling all these criminals regardless of ethnicity or culture. It is time for politicians and commentators to address this issue with honesty and remember this is about saving young girls lives and not grabbing headlines.

There needs to be more preventive work in the community with young girls, telling them of the signs of these crimes and how to prevent getting involved, an immediate stop to the over sexualisation of children, parents and the police taking responsibility for young teenagers when they are wandering the streets at late hours. Ultimately the people responsible are the criminals who groom young girls and as we have seen already the Courts have given long sentences to criminals and long may this continue. It is just not good enough to express the revulsion to these crimes with words but as we move forward all communities will need to be channelling that anger and disgust into helping the Police.

If through this hard work and bravery I have been able to save one young life then the struggles and threats we have received over the past four years have been worth it. There should be no hiding place for these evil people and only together can we stop them.

Monday, 6 June 2011

UK Government new Prevent strategy

The threat from terrorism is real and events like this require communities and Governments to come together to tackle this evil menace from our country. Sadly the Government’s new Prevent strategy seeks to promote the same worn out policy that has failed to achieve success and has led to alienation in the Muslim community

To label all Muslims who promote and practice Sharia law as extremists is a dangerous precedent which will be strongly opposed by our community because the real reasons behind this new strategy is to score cheap political points on the back of the Muslim community. With respect to the Prime Minister and his Ministers Freedom, Democracy, human rights and equality are not British values, they are human values that are enshrined in many faiths including Islam. Adopting a heavy handed approach will lead to more mistrust, division and is not the right strategy to protect our country from terrorism and extremism

Sharia law is a central pillar of our lives for Muslims and nothing any Government Ministers say will stop us using Sharia law to ensure we support our neighbours (Muslim and non Muslim), help the needy in our society, promote equality, fairness and justice.
Holding extremist views is not illegal, just look at the EDL and BNP, this Prevent strategy must be about tackling those extremists that use terrorism and brainwash people and also include the evil of the far right.
This dangerous escalation of attacks on Islam and Muslims will lead to further division and make the task of tackling extremism more difficult. It is interesting that the Government has no strategy to deal with the evil far right like the EDL and BNP. Over the past two years millions of pounds have been wasted in public funds policing these extremists who march our streets and attack our faith and community – no mention of how this Government will deal with these fanatics
The Liberal Democrats spent many years in opposition decrying Labour’s Prevent strategy often urging dialogue and engagement with the Muslim community and not demonisation but now in Government they sit silently as the Conservatives demonstrate their machoism. They should be ashamed of themselves and the Muslim community will not forget their silence in a hurry. Nick Clegg and Liberal Democrats have failed to stand up for their liberal values and this is a sad day for Liberalism.
The Muslim community will continue to take on the terrorists and we will work with the Police and Intelligence Agencies and will not rest until our country is safe from these evil crimes, the terrorists do not act in the name of Islam. But we will strongly oppose attacks on our faith and community from whatever quarter.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Pastor Jones should be banned from the UK

The decision of the fascist EDL to invite US Pastor Terry Jones to the UK demonstrates Mr. Jones real agenda of racism and fascism and his presence here is not conducive to good community relations in the UK. We are a tolerant and peaceful society that prides itself on its diversity and are keen to see communities come together not be ripped apart.
I am a strong defender of free speech but when someone who will incite hatred towards Muslims and furthermore there is a real threat of violence then the Government must ban that person. I would remind Mr. Jones that the UK is proud of British Muslims, our heritage and our contributions here. We are an integral part of our great country and if you come here to promote hatred and division then stay home.
Mr. Jones claims he is a man of Christianity but the great faith of Christianity teaches tolerance, respect and Jesus came to eradicate racism not encourage it – Mr. Jones’s comments and actions run counter to Christianity.

The Home Secretary must not hesitate to ban him from entering the UK, if this does not happen then the Government will be responsible for the division that will ultimately happen if he is allowed to come.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Sir Cyril MBE - My Personal tribute

When I turned five, a party was thrown for Sir Cyril Smith for Christmas and his service to Rochdale by my later father in the Mosque in Deeplish. I can vividly remember Cyril appear and he was the sort of man who you could not fail to notice. He stayed for over two hours talked to everyone and ate a lot of Samosas! but listened to all the problems of people and promise to help them. This was my first memory of community politics and many years later I know there was no one better than Cyril to demonstrate this.

When I decided to get active in politics I joined the Labour Party in March 1997 as I was active in the National Union of Students and it seemed like many others I wanted to be a part of history. When David Blunkett introduced Tuition fees I resigned in disgust as Mr. Blunkett visited Manchester University during the election promising not to introduce tuition fees. It was around this time that I made contact with Cyril again after an absence of many years. I rang him and he was so happy to hear my voice that he invited me to Emma Street to discuss matters and I arrived with Cyril in his front room reading the Daily Mail – not a great impression of a Liberal!

I reminded him of that first memory and my father who had died many years earlier, and after such a long time he went on to tell me about how great my father was and how he enjoyed the parties every year – now for a politician to remember such matters was something that made me realise he was special – of course he would get it wrong sometimes, but his heart was in a good place and he always put Rochdale first. I spent many hours listening to his stories about his life and what life in Rochdale was like during the early 60’s and 70’s when my father arrived, but he always tried to get me to join the Liberal Democrats which I somehow politely declined.

When I moved to London and worked for a period with Simon Hughes MP that I started thinking about liberalism, equality and social justice. The very issues that I spoke to Cyril about – in the end I joined the Party and remember ringing Cyril up and he was so excited and happy that I had joined and he wrote me a nice letter telling me how to move ahead. What amazed me was the time he was still giving to people like me, I lost count the amount of calls he took when I visited him or the letters he wrote – and he had retired from elected office!!

When some years later I returned to Rochdale he pushed me to stand for the Executive and Vice Chair, which I did. It was during this time that there were some major disagreements about certain individuals who were on a mission to destroy their colleagues, I made some na├»ve mistakes but was strongly of the view that I was making the right decisions – when things got ugly he was there for him, offering some amazing advice and support. His ability to just help you pick yourself up and get on with it was very helpful.

When I finally stood for the first time as a candidate in Bamford, he was so happy and proud. He hand wrote 900 envelopes to voters asking for their support and never stopped believing in me. I remember his advice that night, “lad you need to loose sometimes to come back stronger”
In the eight years I knew him as a friend I never really got to say thank you to him, I visited him a few weeks ago in the nursing home where you knew he was fading away – it was very sad and traumatic for me to see him. Now as we say good bye to him, I know I cant pick that phone up and hear his reassured voice and get that support and help.

So Cyril, my dear friend thank you for the friendship, help, support and company, your memory will live on for years to come.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

9/11 Burn a Quran day in United States

I strongly condemn Pastor Jones for his stunt to burn the Holy Quran on September 11th, this vile action is designed to cause distress towards Muslims and many people of all faiths and I urge him to reconsider. The burning of any religious scriptures is unacceptable and must be stopped. I welcome the strong comments of President Obama and his Government but we urge urgent action now to stop this stunt.

With freedom of choice comes responsibility and I call on the US Government to take urgent action to stop this racist bigot.

The coming of faith leaders across the United States is comforting to the Muslim communities and an indication that that the burning of the Quran is an attack on all decent tolerant people. This so called man of faith is going against the teachings of the faith of Christianity and there is no link between the Quran and terrorism.

September 11th is a day to remember the victims and not carry out stunts that will lead to community division, in this I hope he fails. The ever increasing attacks on Islam and Muslims is worrying for our communities and we would urge people to reflect on the acceptance of suck attacks as justified.

I urge a peaceful, tolerant response to his actions, our message is of non violence and I hope people understand this.”

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Data Darbar Lahore Terrorist attack

I am deeply saddened by the terrorist attacks on Data Darbar in Lahore Pakistan, this senseless and evil attack is a reminder of the daily chaos that exists in Pakistan today. There are 18 confirmed dead and many injured, tonight I offer the victims and their families my deepest sympathies, prayers and condolences.

Once again I reiterate that Islam totally forbids the killing of innocent people and I abhor these attacks, there can be no safe hiding place for these terrorists and they should be brought to justice.

For too long the Government of Pakistan has failed to provide security for its citizens, surely after so many deaths from terrorism the Government will finally act.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Israel kills aid activists in Gaza Flotilla attack

I strongly condemn the Israeli Government for the killing of innocent aid activists in the Gaza Flotilla attack, these ships were operating in international water and on a journey to supply desperately needed aid and medicine for the Gazan people who have suffered from an economic blockade for many years. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families as they come to terms with their loss.

I call on the International community to come together to demand that Israel is held responsible for murdering innocent people and appropriate action from taken by the United Nations for this breach of international law. If Israel claims to be a western democracy but acts like a dictatorship then these murders are the actions of a deplorable Government that clearly has no respect for human life.

I call on the UK Government to do what it can to identify any British citizens on the Ship and take necessary actions to bring them home safely, there should be an international inquiry supported with tough sanctions for Israel to understand it cannot kill innocent people and get away with it.

I call on just people around the world to stand up and demonstrate their abhorrence for these murderous acts. Finally its time for the siege and blockade for Gaza to be lifted.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Child kidnapped in Pakistan

I am deeply saddened and concerned at the kidnapping of British child Sahil Saeed in Jhelum Pakistan yesterday, all our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this distressing time.

The family from Oldham were on holiday and about to return when these cowards carried out this kidnapping, we pray that baby Sahil is safe and is returned to the family, we are ready to offer whatever assistance is needed during these difficult days.

I welcome the immediate attention of the British Government and commend Foreign Minister Chris Bryant for his personal interest in the case and urge British Police to be sent to help find Sahil, the Pakistani Authorities must put all their resources in finding him safely.
Tonight the whole community is anxious for some good news, I urge people to pray for the safe return of Sahil Saeed

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Government’s amendment tonight to the Children, Schools and Families bill about teaching sex education is a welcome u turn from forcing faith schools to abandon their basic articles of faith and principles. I have been very clear from an early stage that enforcing something that is contrary to religious community’s faith is illiberal and unacceptable in the 21st century.

Faith schools should be able to teach children about sex according to their faiths and not dictated to by secularists.

Whilst recognising this is indeed progress we still believe that the Government has to stop bashing faith groups and their schools, these faith schools add great value to many communities in this country, the Government must recognise and accept this.

Faith schools should be free to teach children according to their faiths, the high standards in these schools speak for themselves.”

We should not give in to the secularists who want to marginalise faith from our public life.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Israeli involvement in Dubai murder

“It is concerning that British passports have been used in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai allegedly by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. If these allegations are proven this will be a major breach of international law and the sovereignty of both Dubai and the United Kingdom. I urge the British Foreign Secretary David Milliband to begin a full inquiry into the circumstances of these allegations and for tough action to be taken against those that have cloned and misused British passports.

Whatever our views on the Israeli and Palestinian conflict we can surely come together to urge all sides to respect international law and the sovereignty of both the UK and Dubai.

If the allegations that Israel has stolen British citizen’s passports and their identities are proven then the British Government should tell Israel of serious repercussions and this being a strong indictment of Israel’s disregard for international law.

Mr Foreign Secretary it is time for an immediate inquiry.”