Hijab: Empowering or Oppressive?

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Last week, a Sunday Times investigation found that 1 in 5 primary schools now listed the ‘hijab’ as a official school uniform policy, even though young girls under the age of puberty are actually exempt from wearing it under accepted Islamic rulings. Campaigners such as Amina Lone, Gina Khan and Shaista Gohir have already brought a lot of attention to this very polemic issue. I hope to outline my own position and help put my previous comments into context with this blog. Feel free to leave comments below!

Do you want to ban the hijab?

No, absolutely not. I believe that everyone should wear what they want to whether that is a burka or a bikini, as long as they are exercising free choice. Over the past decade or so, the hijab is seen more and more being as a symbol by both extremes of the debate on Islamic dress for women- by groups such as ISIS who force Yazidi women and girls into wearing the ‘burka’ and on the other side, as a symbol of oppression by feminists and women who champion women’s rights, who want to see an outright ban.

It is very difficult to enter this debate because we can often end up in much polarised discussions and positions. ‘Do we ban the hijab?’ ‘Do we ban it for some and not others?’ ‘Do we allow anyone and everyone to wear it, even those who are exempt?’ Or ‘should we be tackling other, more serious issues such as domestic violence, sexual abuse and forced marriages first?’

For women like myself, finding a middle ground that allows women to wear what they want to wear without judgement, even if it’s a symbol seen by some as a ‘tool of oppression’ is often tricky and fraught with contradictions.

This blog is an attempt to explain and understand some of the popular misconceptions around the hijab and perhaps towards a better, more nuanced understanding of the debate around the hijab.

So what is the hijab?

According to Wikipedia, A hijabis a veil traditionally worn by some Muslim women in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the head and chest. The word ḥijāb in the Quran refers not to women’s clothing, but rather a spatial partition or curtain. The term can refer to any head, face, or body covering worn by Muslim women that conforms to a certain standard of modesty. Hijab can also be used to refer to the seclusion of women from men in the public sphere, or it may denote a metaphysical dimension, for example referring to “the veil which separates man or the world from God”’

For the purposes of this blog, I intend to use the term hijab to refer to a triangular headscarf, generally worn by Muslim woman to cover their heads.

To truly understand the beauty of hijab you need to understand the concepts behind it. According to the early scriptures, the hijab is not just a headscarf; it is a way of thinking and expressing one’s beliefs in Islam. The hijab encourages modesty and restraint both in thought and behaviour, as well as clothing. It also encourages empathy and the control of one’s ego. Moreover, Islam actually dictates that the hijab is incumbent on males first and foremost. Often you will see a Muslim man avert his gaze. He is not being rude. Rather he is observing the hijab of the gaze i.e. not to look upon a ‘ghair’ (non-relative) woman. To observe hijab, one must recognise their own failings and strive to improve their character internally first.

Another key point in this very heated debate which, regretfully, I can only touch upon briefly, is how women who don’t wear the headscarf are treated. Generally, there have been no issues at all, but some recent examples are showing quite a worrying trend. In a recent election campaign, the electorate was advised to ‘choose the better Muslim’ between two Muslim women based simply upon the fact that one wore a headscarf and the other didn’t. This needs to stop. The wearing of a headscarf is no barometer of whether the person is a good Muslim or not.

What about the hijab in primary schools?

Primary school starts at the age of 5. Girls under the age of puberty are exempt from wearing the hijab in Islam, so to have school uniform policies that allows young girls to wear the hijab doesn’t make sense. It also provides the perfect excuse for far right groups to attack the hijab and attempt to get it banned for everyone. This is what happened in France and what is happening across Europe as we speak.

I understand many young girls in Years 5 & 6 who have started their menstrual cycles, who may wish to wear it but an older child of say 10 or 11 is very different in their outlook and understanding than a child of say 4 or 5 years old. Let little girls be little girls.

I remember when I was a little girl; I only ever wore a dupatta on my head when learning to read namaz and sabaq with my mum. We wore what our parents wanted at home and stuck to the school rules when we were in school. I don’t see why it has to be any different now.

Before everyone goes off to get their pitchforks, let me explain my own family situation. My niece is 6 years old. The only time she wears the hijab is when she goes to madressa to learn Arabic or when she sees either her grandma, her mum or me pray namaz  or read the Quran. When I brought her a long abaya (dress) from Morocco a few years ago she wore it every day for a week and would only take it off to have it washed.

Our children are a product of our upbringing. But that upbringing needs to be tempered with understanding and an appreciation for our religion. How many of us went to the mosques and learnt how to read the Quran by rote without ever understanding what we were reading? And how many young people do we know that have little or no connection to the ‘deen’ now because they were only copying behaviour without understanding the concepts behind such actions? Why is there a generation of young people with emotional and behavioural problems, with a huge increase in mental health problems?

The young people I speak with have a real disconnect with their upbringing, their families and their spirituality. We can no longer expect our young children to follow our lead and accept what we are telling without also providing a solid framework for them to express their individuality and curiosity. In a truly digital age, where we have toddlers using iPads before they can even walk, the access to knowledge and different opinions via the internet is not empowering but rather confusing young people.

Some of the comments online have been interesting. ‘Best to get the girls wearing the hijab early so that they can get used to wearing it later on in life’ was a common theme. Islam isn’t about habit or doing something without any thought or love involved. Islam actively encourages free and critical thinking, free speech and the respecting of other people’s views.

Moreover, from my own experiences of teaching and working with young people, I have seen young men and women engage in behaviour that is contrary to Islamic practices such as drug taking, sexual activity, drinking of alcohol and so on while wearing Islamic dress or keeping an Islamic appearance. That is not to say I judge them whatsoever for their actions- is it between them and our Maker as far as I am concerned. But too many young people are leaving the faith, some because they feel they were forced to do something they didn’t want to. There needs to be a strong discussion around this topic but maybe for another post!

It is very telling when I come across comments aimed at me such as ‘c*ck sucking biatch’ ‘stupid ugly b*tch’ ‘daft b*tch’. Without exercising the incumbent Islamic principles of good akhlaq (disposition, nature, temper, ethics, morals or manners) these people demand something that isn’t even prescribed for under Islamic rulings!

Has banning the Hijab worked in France?

Whenever anyone discusses the banning of anything, there is a fine balance between respecting the human rights and wishes of the people affected, and on the other hand, promoting community cohesion while addressing the needs of the wider community.?

Last year I also campaigned against the Burkini ban in France on various media platforms. By banning the hijab, has France really satisfied their goals of tackling extremism or gender based abuse? That is open to interpretation.

My belief, that women should not be dictated to on what they should or shouldn’t wear by French or any other public policy, is grounded in the principles of free choice. Similarly, women should not be forced to cover up to satisfy the strict interpretation of men based upon their patriarchal cultural framework and little girls, absolutely not!

We do not need to look too far to see what is happening on our doorsteps. Campaign groups with a far right agenda are already circling, and looking for an excuse to start calling for a ban on many of the practices that we take for granted, such as slaughtering livestock that adheres to principles of making meat halal and the circumcision of males. Why give them any more excuses.

 

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Cllr Amina Lone speaks out to set the record straight.

It’s been nearly a full week since it was announced that Cllr Amina Lone would no longer be allowed to stand as a councillor for the Labour Party in the local elections next year.

Here is her second statement in relation to the accusations levelled against her that she didn’t attend council meetings for six months.

Statement from Amina Lone

First, I would like to thank the many Labour Councillors who have contacted me privately to express their support and concern.
I have nothing to hide nor do I have anything to gain by telling the truth. I am mature enough to admit I made a mistake over a period between April and July 2016 (there were no council meetings in April and August). I did however amongst other things attend ward meetings, advice sessions, community meetings and Labour Group.

I also prioritised a national role in the Remain campaign supporting Labour’s position in the most important decision of my lifetime. At the same time, I was supporting my very fragile family after a devastating fire burned our house down a few months earlier.

I was justifiably admonished and called for an interview to explain. I apologised a number of times for the situation and later I was told, “I was not contrite enough”. This is despite doing 16 out of 22 (over 70%) campaign sessions set for the same time period. Also between the panel and appeal (March through to July 2017) I more than made up for missed campaigns sessions.

It is clear the final excuse for removing me was on rule interpretations often ignored for others whilst ignoring the contributions I made for the Labour cause over the last ten years. I appealed and provided fifteen statements of support from local ward members, residents, Cllrs and activists including statements from the council leader and a local MP. I was
repeatedly advised by trustworthy people that I was ‘going to be made an example of’ so I was not surprised when the appeal was refused. A fellow, white councillor in similar circumstances was reinstated.

A year later I am still waiting to receive basic information, including reports and change of circumstances procedures, from the chief whip in relation to this period. The omission from the recent statement by Manchester Labour that the chief whip failed to follow established process (as set by the previous Chief Whip) is telling. Yet this was admitted in
their statement informing me my appeal was rejected.

The lack of regard or acknowledgement of inconsistent implementation of the rules and failures within the Labour Party is also quite incredible. The blanket refusal to acknowledge allegations raised by Drew Walsh of wrong doing over many years within the Gorton constituency Labour Party is significant. Is it a surprise considering other majority BME constituencies around the country have been suspended in similar fashion, one for over two decades?

This begs the question: is the party rulebook fit for purpose and/or does the party know (and is covering up) a deeper problem? In Manchester, there has never been a Muslim woman in a leadership (executive) position, representing the city as Lord Mayor or selected as an MP despite putting themselves forward. Muslim men have been elected to all those roles.

In May 2011, I stood for an internal Labour group position of deputy executive member and won by one vote. To break confidentiality rules and bring this up to use as a defence for equality six years on, really just demonstrates the denial and collusion of the powerful within Labour. It is also a warning – anyone who dares question the authority of the campaign coordinator will have difficulties.

Here are just three examples of the biradari system operating in Manchester Labour – all relate to existing or former MCC councillors who are all Muslim. All were told to me first hand but the women involved do not want to come forward.
1. A women was told by two males when she attended her first meeting, “How the f*** did you get on without us bringing you through?
2. When a woman was shortlisted for a seat she was visited by two men. Her husband was asked to encourage her to stand aside for another man. She could wait her turn.

  1. I have been called and told, “You are with us or you are against us” when I was supporting a Jewish candidate.

This year I have received ‘verbal warnings’ which have increased in number each month for daring to challenge the status quo. I have been informed ‘I need to be taught a lesson”.

Expecting me to deny my experiences and those of many others who are afraid to come forward is indicative of a Labour Party out of touch with reality. I maintain there are lots of brilliant people, including lots of my colleagues, in the party – sadly not enough of them hold power or are willing to hold power to account.

 

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Strong women need support, not silence

Sarah Champion, one of many women to have spoken out recently

My blog, ‘Outspoken Muslim women are an endangered species’, published yesterday, has had a great reaction from all parts of the world, from the UK to South Africa, Singapore, Israel and beyond. So many women have got in touch to share their own stories, some deeply personal and never before shared and some already in the public domain.

It made me realise that actually, it’s not just outspoken Muslim women that come under fire. In fact, any woman that speaks up, or stands up for something that she believes, is seen as a legitimate target.

It is not just a Muslim women’s issue it se Continue reading

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Outspoken Muslim women are an endangered species

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Amina Lone barred from standing for local office again by her party for refusing to comply with wishes of community elders.

 

 

This week, it emerged that an outspoken, fiery local councillor Amina Lone had been deselected by her political party from the forthcoming local elections in Manchester. For some this would not have come as a surprise. For the past year or so, Ms Lone has been outspoken campaigner on a variety of issues such as gender inequality, abuse that woman receive in politics, especially women from a Black, Minority Ethnic (BME) background, political correctness when dealing with CSE and much more besides. Most recently, she was seen defending her colleague Sarah Champion from having to step down from her position as Shadow Equalities Minister after Ms Champion wrote that Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping white girls. It is absolutely fair to say that Ms Lone is not afraid to put her head above the parapet and say what needs to be said even whilst others shrink in fear.

Perhaps it is precisely because of her activism and no nonsense approach that she has been singled out by the local members of her party for deselection, on the basis of a ‘poor attendance and campaigning record’, allegations that Ms Lone has denied vigorously.

Muslim women who enter politics broadly fall into two camps according to community elders: either they are compliant, homely and happy to agree with everything that the men agree on or they outspoken, critical and want to change the status quo. It is the latter of the two women that do not last long in community based politics. A Keighley based local councillor complained she was forced to attend meetings with her brother, her husband or another male member until it was established that she was capable of being alone with men without a chaperone.

The men in these types of predominantly Pakistani political circles prefers to see women as the toys from the Churchill advert; nodding their heads repeatedly while not saying a single word while expected to dress modestly and wear a scarf at all times during political meetings.

The timings of meetings always seem to take place after business hours; not surprising if the men are local businessmen or professionals that have a 9-5 job. But often this is very difficult for Muslim women, who have caring duties of their own families or elderly parents. Henna Rai, a Birmingham based activist who is also a single mother, was told to ‘stay at home and look after (her) child’ when she tried to enter local politics.

Those who do attend late night meetings are often questioned over their character. A Muslim woman was told to go home at 10:30pm after attending a political event in Bradford because ‘only loose women were seen out of the home at that time’ and ‘didn’t she care about her reputation?’

Another Muslim woman, having won the selection to stand as a local councillor in Bradford, was harassed repeatedly and told to step down in order to make way for another, male candidate by members of her own party. On the night of the elections in 2008, she lost the election by 8 votes. Rumours emerged that members of her own party were responsible for disallowing many votes that would have helped her win to teach her a lesson for defying them.

Sadly the truth is that politics in Britain have been overrun by elements that have integrated a feudal way of thinking and believing into mainstream politics;  certain men have an automatic right to stand for public office or to select those they wish to see stand. No thought is spent on the abilities or the merit of the person that has been selected; it is enough that the person is either a relative from the same village in rural Pakistan or at least a man. A Dewsbury based councillor, asked for his thoughts during a public meeting between the community and senior police officers following the 7/7 terror attacks, could not even speak or read a single word of English, and a member of the public had to step in and translate for him.

Even when the local councillors are British born or can speak English, their mind set can only be described as regressive or ‘village-like’.

Gina Khan, an activist based in Birmingham, has spoken out about this many times. Her recent campaigning has included highlighting the conduct of a local councillor Waseem Zaffar, who demanded a local primary school change their policy to allow his four year old niece to wear a headscarf to school. A headscarf or hijab, is usually worn by girls who have reached puberty, to prevent unwanted sexual advances from men. Ms Khan pointed out that Cllr Zaffar was ‘sexualising his four year old niece by insisting she wear a headscarf, something that is not even required of children in Islam. His conduct was another example of how some Pakistani men use patriarchy to control and subjugate women’.

For many years, women from my community were told that the world of ‘politics is just for men’, ‘politics are dirty’, ‘a woman cannot survive without a man besides her to vouch for her honour’ and so on.

Muslim women from minority sects are at an even further disadvantage. Zehra Zaidi, a former parliamentary candidate for the Conservative Party who adheres to the Shia sect found that she did not ‘fall into the usual stereotype’ and faced an uphill struggle to be considered a viable candidate.

Whichever way you describe it; biradari, patriarchy or misogyny, these systems and structures are there to control women and to silence dissent. This is not healthy for our communities. Having such men in positions of power gives them legitimacy to go back to their communities and implement strict patriarchal control mechanisms which then silence women’s voices further. Nothing will change until we start to dismantle the same platforms that some men have used to their advantage.

Whenever a woman decides to stand up for herself and refuses to comply with the expectations or demands of the local elders of the community she is singled out ostracised, and eventually her powerbase is taken from her. This is exactly what is happening to Ms Lone right now.

Of course, we do have some amazing Muslim women politics already. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Nusrat Ghani MP and Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh being very good examples but there are simply not enough. Ms Lone’s deselection is not going to silence her, and the outpouring of support she has received shows that she was doing something right. Last night she vowed to ‘continue to fight for justice’ and to ‘march on’.

Muslim women will never be valued or heard if they are treated as disposable commodities by mainstream political parties. Yes, we are an endangered species, but we have a burning desire to be heard, and are not afraid to burn our bridges with repressive cultures and traditions to do so.

 

 

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Vilification of Faryal Makhdoom confirms outdated attitudes towards marriage break ups in SA communities.

Amir Khan and Faryal Makhdoom are sadly no more after boxer pulls plug on marriage of 4 years. On twitter.


Yesterday’s announcement by Amir Khan on Twitter that his marriage was over was shocking enough. But then he followed it up with a series of even more bizarre, disturbing and downright scandalous tweets in which he accused his now estranged wife  Faryal Makhdoom of not only being a gold digger, but also of cheating on him with a fellow boxer, Anthony Joshua. Khan’s last tweet reads:

“Mans (sic) like (Anthony) Joshua can have my left overs”

Calling the mother of your child ‘my left overs’? What is she, a meal that you’ve had enough of and don’t even want to take home in a doggy bag?

Naturally, Makhdoom responded with a series of tweets of her own, denying Khan’s accusations that she had cheated on him, accusing him of being a 30 year old baby and claiming that she had stood by him even after unsavoury evidence merged of Khan cheating on her shortly after their marriage in 2013. Soon after, Anthony Joshua responded from his own account, denying that Makhdoom and he had ever even met.

What has been interesting is the reaction to this whole sorry saga, from many mocking Khan for his tweets, praising Joshua for his sense of humour and, unbelievably, vilifying Makhdoom.

Here are some choice examples:


“if yu had behaved like a queen he would never cheat..

 Kings dont get satisfied with fake hoes.. kings need some real shit.(sic)”

“huhh..He is alright.she is absolutely wrong.She has no sense how to handle the situation.she didn’t respect him but amir respect her.”

“Amir Khan wasn’t viciously attacking her and she was.

She tagged him multiple times nd looked like a crazy fogi (sic)”

I have been truly spoilt for choice when it came to choosing examples for this blog post; not surprisingly, most of the attacks against Makhdoom were coming from the Asian community, and especially from men.

Some even went on to accuse her of trying to make a name for herself on the back of Khan’s fame;

“Whats ur identity nobody knows you without amir Khan ur nothing”

Er, what did you expect her to do; sit at home and make handi roti like a dutiful Muslim wife while Khan played the field? The fact that Makhdoom has established a small but successful business of her own should be applauded. After all, she is trying to be self-sufficient and to stand on her own two feet rather than clinging onto the coat tails of her husband and his purse strings.

Furthermore, why is it that women are immediately seen as a target once a marriage break downs but no one questions the man even when he has been seen with his pants down via skype the world over? Where was the vitriol and hatred towards Khan when allegations of his own cheating scandals emerged?

This sheer hypocrisy and double standards may come as a surprise to many but is unfortunately the norm in the communities that Khan, Makhdoom and I hail from.

The wife bears everything with a smile, turns the other cheek if her husband has done anything ‘wrong’ and generally tries to keep the family unit together in the face of numerous obstacles and interferences. But as soon as the husband even suspects any hint of wrong doing then all hell will break lose and all toys will be well and truly thrown out of the pram like mini heat seeking missiles!

Whenever there has been any marital strife between husband and wife, it is always the wives who have gotten the lion’s share of the blame. So your husband is being violent or abusive? It must be because you can’t control your tongue. Husband won’t let you go into town on your own? You will just end up wasting his hard earned cash. Husband having an affair? You must be frigid, inexperienced or too consumed with your own life to give him any attention, even if that means you’re raising his children, cooking, cleaning and looking after his family members too!

The internet and social media now means that there is an added element of disseminating the news further and wider than ever before, thus maximising the humiliation for the wife. This matter could have and should have been resolved behind closed doors. As it stands now, Khan’s actions have resulted in Makhdoom being a target for all kinds of mischief both online and in the real world. So much for the ‘parda’ (veil) and ‘libaas’ (garment/ protection) that Islam states should exist between husband and wife.

Now reports have emerged that Khan has divorced Makhdoom, via the tried and trusted method of SMS text. Very much like the divorce issued by Pakistani politician and former cricketer Imran Khan to his second wife Reham Khan, with Reham only receiving the text after she had landed in the UK after a long haul flight, this seems the preferred cowards way out of a marriage.

If that is the case, I am even more disappointed in Khan. As a positive role model for young boys and girls the world over due to his position as a world famous athlete and now campaigner for those in need of charity, some-one should perhaps tell Amir Khan that charity begins at home, with his wife and daughter.

 

 

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Shipley MP Philip Davies sends abusive responses to local resident who questioned him over his blocking or filibustering of safer housing Bills.

Copied and pasted, with permission, from Russell Waldron, a Shipley constituent – today’s email correspondence between him and Philip Davies.

“This is a long post. It directly quotes my communications with Philip Davies MP following last night’s horrifying tragedy in the Grenfell Tower. 
If you don’t want to read it, the crux is that Mr Davies is the lowest form of scum currently comprising our political class. 
“Dear Mr Davies,
 I am writing to express my dismay at the tragedy in Kensington today, an horrific and avoidable event in which you must surely find yourself directly complicit.
 Your debating history with regards to tenants’ rights and the obligations of landlords has directly led to an environment in which events of this nature are a much greater risk. That you filibustered the Fitness for Human Habitation bill demonstrates your unswerving commitment to representing the needs and interests of yourself and your associates rather than those of your constituents and the wider public.
 More broadly, it would seem that your government was party to information (which remained on file without action for four years, if today’s reporting is accurate) directly regarding the risks leading to this event, and has failed to intervene following similar events occurring in other properties managed by KCTMO. Continuing budget cuts to local authorities increasingly blunts their abilities to ensure that rented accommodation is safe. Although our brave emergency services continue to operate to their fullest abilities, continued funding cuts make a mockery of their crucial role in protecting us.
 The general culture arising from this climate is one of callous distain towards the populace; a distain which has historically proven, and continues to be, of fatal consequence to many thousands of people.
 Despite your recent re-election, I must assert that I consider you unfit for office due to you having directly endangered the lives of ordinary people who you are mandated to represent and whose basic interests you are avowed to protect.
 I must insist that you acknowledge (though I know you will not) your direct involvement in today’s tragedy, and issue a full apology (though I know you will not) to your constituents and your country for your political negligence.
 Though I take no pleasure in the use of such crass analogy, it is no exaggeration to say that you (in particular) and your party have literally left our citizens to burn.
 Reticent regards,
 Russell Waldron”
“Dear Mr Waldron
Thank you for your (utterly revolting and disgusting) email.
To use such a terrible tragedy to make such a partisan political attack is one of the lowest things I have ever seen in my 12 years in Parliament. Quite frankly you are sick.
You are also talking utter garbage. Please can you tell me which clause in the Human Habitation Bill would have prevented this fire and save lives.
If you can’t (which you can’t because it is wholly irrelevant) then I expect a full and groveling apology.
I cannot tell you how disgusted I am with your baseless, insensitive attack.
You perfectly sum up the nature of the Momentum dominated Labour Party under their Marxist leadership.
Philip
Philip Davies MP”
“Dear Mr Davies,
  (or Sophie Dean, who seems to have been your nominated advocate to respond on your behalf, though I would have happily awaited a direct response from my MP. Forgive me if this is an incorrect interpretation of the nuts and bolts of my e-mail thread),
  Thank you for your calm and measured response. It is exactly such grace and restraint that has typified your party’s approach to the recent election, and it’s paternal clemency when dealing with the socially democratic (not Marxist – correct understanding of basic political history goes a long way) leader of the party who received my vote.
  You will note, upon careful reading of my communication, that I did not assert that the proposed Fitness for Human Habitation bill directly concerned fire safety, rather that rejection of this and such other attempts to protect tenants’ rights exhibits contempt of my fellow citizens, and preserves the interests of you and your associates. There are other occasions where you have voted against tenants’ rights, with direct regards to conditions and safety in rented properties, which are available to read on your voting record. The concerns of the residents of the Grenfell Tower with regards to the KCTMO management company (whose interests you represent) are evident, and now reside in full public view. I reject your previous public assertions that you, as a landlord and tenant, have a uniquely balanced perspective on these issues. Your voting record does not substantiate this claim.
  I reject your assertion that my contact is a partisan political attack. I have written to you in the past regarding other matters, but regrettably felt that my efforts had fallen on deaf ears. You failed to represent my interests, and I have therefore not contacted you since. That I have decided to get in touch today is the culmination of my ongoing dismay regarding your and your party’s treatment of my fellow citizens. Suggesting that this is a partisan political attack is yet another example of your failure to properly and maturely address the opinions and concerns of your constituents. I stated my opinions moderately and without abusive language. Indeed, I am unaccustomed to being labelled “sick” by the type of person who would filibuster a bill (purely for example) to end exploitation of wild animals in circuses.
  As an aside, may I point out that your party has never failed to use national and international tragedies to bury abhorrent (or at the very least inevitably unpopular) legislation in the past, and I utterly reject your horrified rhetoric as entirely cynical.
  I take no discomfort from the personal attacks in your frankly immature response to my communication Mr Davies, as in my experience it is the wounded animal, backed into a corner, which attacks with the greatest ferocity.
  I welcome your comments when they come from a more balanced, and less personally abusive, perspective. Your hysterical treatment of one of your constituents will not go un-noted.
  Regards,
  Russell Waldron
“Dear Mr Waldron
Thank you for your further email. You (and all my constituents) get personal responses to emails.
So there we have it. You come back and now acknowledge that the Bill to which you referred had no bearing on today’s tragedy. But it didn’t stop you from originally making that baseless and disgusting allegation. Your backtracking does not excuse your original email.
I suppose that is the closest I will come to an apology from a disgusting partisan Momentum-style hard core left-winger.
There are clearly no depths (no matter how baseless you now have to accept they are) you will stoop to in order to make untrue political attacks.
Try having some respect for the people who were victims of a terrible tragedy instead of using it as a political tool.
Your sick and baseless allegations will also not go unnoticed.
Philip
Philip Davies MP”
“Dear Mr Davies,
I thank you for your personal response, which on this occasion does show as coming from you directly. 
Unfortunately a response does not always constitute a considered answer. My concerns, which remain entirely justified, are underpinned by my strong sense of social connection to every person on this earth who labours beneath a self-interested political class, of which I consider you to be a particularly obnoxious representative. I would not have written to you today were I not brought to tears by the plight of the residents of Grenfell Tower, their families, their friends, and their children. 
You will note, from careful reading of my communications, that I have not backtracked on any of my points. I remain convinced of your considered culpability in the struggles of tenants across the U.K., and of your government’s failings; which have created conditions whereby today’s tragedy was inevitable. Your failure to accept, or even respond to, these convictions solidifies my assessment that you are unfit to represent me and my fellow citizens. 
Allow me to be frank: I have no apology to make to you or your peers. Were I in the privileged position to determine the quality, or indeed the longevity, of the lives of my fellow citizens, I would be eternally grief-stricken should my decisions prove to be such grave and callous folly. You have demonstrated no such humanity. You are unprofessional and presumptive when you dare to question my own. Your urgency to label me politically (using frankly hilarious terminology) clearly demonstrates your inability to represent the broad church which comprises your ward. 
I am impressed by the timeliness of your (and your delegate’s) responses to my communications today and I again thank you for this, but I am sadly not surprised by the unhelpful and abusive content of these replies. 
I feel no further value in continuing this conversation, unless you feel it pertinent to directly address my politely (and admittedly forcefully) addressed concerns. 
Regards,
Russell Waldron”
“Dear Mr Waldron
I will give you one final chance.
Tell me which Clause in the Bills to which you refer would have prevented today’s tragedy. Given you have failed to do so it is clear that you haven’t the first idea what you are talking about and instead rely on morons on Twitter for your information.
So I will give you a final chance to substantiate your allegation.
If you can’t then you should have the decency to apologise. Instead I suspect you will head off to your Momentum meeting instead where I am sure you will fit in very well.
To use such a tragedy to make unfounded political smears disgusts me.
Philip Davies MP

Member of Parliament for the Shipley constituency”
“Dear Mr Davies,
My sincere gratitude for being issued one final chance. 
There are indeed many morons on twitter. Without being able to emulate your proficiency in arrogance, I have been blessed with, and have worked upon, the faculties to determine what is and what is not worth listening to. For the record, I use Twitter primarily for following news relating to Bradford City FC. I have never attended, nor do I plan to attend, a Momentum meeting. Please dispense with your tiresome prejudice. 
Your insistence in focussing on the minutiae of fire safety legislation entirely misses the point which I have carefully laid out in my correspondences. My assertions are based on your inability regarding (or probably disinterest in) objectively representing the interests of tenants in our country, due to your blinkered incentives to maximise profit as a landlord and as an associate of landlords. 
I am loathed to repeat myself, but the residents’ association of the Grenwell Tower repeatedly raised concerns regarding fire safety in their homes, and concluded that the only way their voices would be heard was in the event of a tragic failing of the systems that should have been in place. 
Please allow me to reframe this discussion, by now offering you the opportunity to affirm that your voting record regarding tenant safety has been at best misguided, and at worst negligent, and that you will henceforth engage in constructive (non-abusive) discussion to improve the living conditions of our citizens in rented accommodation. 
Policy after policy in the last seven years has been designed to demonise the poor whilst protecting the interests of the privileged. You have, I am afraid, been largely on the wrong side of this debate. 
Finally, and I do mean finally, you do not deserve, nor shall you receive, an apology from me for expressing my deep concerns regarding your and your government’s savage disregard of my fellow citizens. This is not a Daily Mail comments thread. I have not yet requested an apology for your abusive responses to my polite correspondence. I am a realist, and I feel I have the measure of you, therefore any such request would be sadly pointless. 
I once again thank you for your diligence in promptly engaging with me this evening Mr Davies, which does at least adhere to rule number one of your role as Member of Parliament. 
Regards,
Russell Waldron.”
I’ll add any further responses from my MP (my political representative in parliament, the man paid to represent my concerns and to conduct himself honourably within our great political institution) as and when they arrive.”

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Defence lawyer to victim in two-hammer attack: ‘you’re not injured enough’. 

Defence lawyer Andrew Kendall implies that domestic violence victim may have lied about her attack because her injuries are not sufficient enough for an attack involving two hammer. Please see my letter of complaint to Mr Kendall’s firm Apex Chambers. (Apexchambers.net) 

KeighleyWest Yorkshire

Apex Chambers

Harlech House,

20 Cathedral Rd

Cardiff

CF11 9LJ

 

1st May 2017

 

FOA All Partners

 

Dear Sir/ Madam

 
A barrister instructed by your firm has been reported in the press over the weekend as making deeply worrying and unacceptable comments while defending a client charged with Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4462694/Pakistani-asylum-seeker-beat-wife-hammer.html
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/asylum-seeker-attacked-facebook-bride-10335407
Andrew Kendall suggested that the injuries sustained by the victim at the hands of his client, Mohsin Akram, should have been ‘drastically worse’ considering the vicious attack involved the use of not one but two hammers.
This type of language is wholly unacceptable and deeply insulting to not only the victim but also to all victims of domestic violence and abuse. It gives the impression that the victim has either been untruthful or has embellished her account of what has happened to her. In this case, there were multiple witnesses who came across the victim immediately after attack as well as medical evidence that backed up the claims made by the victim.

 

Less than two weeks ago, I was the principle organiser of an event held at the House of Commons, sponsored by Khalid Mahmood MP, to discuss whether the UK legal system was letting down victims of domestic violence, abuse and harassment. At the event, both Khalid Mahmood MP and Dawn Butler MP called for a public enquiry into the way victims are treated by the legal system in this country.

 

It seems clear to me that the attitudes of defence solicitors and barristers also need to be subjected to public scrutiny to see whether they have crossed the line from questioning the victims to disparaging and bullying them.

 

I now call on you, as partner, to distance yourself from the comments made by Mr Kendal while representing your firm and to further condemn all types of actions that may lead to victims feeling further attacked and their horrendous experiences of violence and abuse trivialised while they are giving evidence of their abuse. I further ask that you request Mr Kendall to undergo further training so as to understand the full, long term impact of domestic abuse and harassment on a victim, often exacerbated when he or she has to give evidence against their abuser.

 

 

Yours faithfully

Aisha Ali-Khan

Writer and Editor,

Asian Mums Network

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