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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