On Friday, a group of campaigners and activists met with Amanda Spielman, Chief Inspector of Schools, to discuss the hijab as part of school uniform policy for one in five primary schools in the UK. Following the meeting, Ms Spielman announced that children will be asked ‘why they wear the hijab to school’ in an article published by the Sunday Times under the headline ‘Inspectors to quiz girls in hijabs’.
If true, then the focus of Ofsted seems to me to be misguided. Surely, Ofsted should be holding the primary schools to account that have allowed this change to their school uniform policies rather than quizzing little girls? After all, the expected answer from girls as young as four and five who wear the hijab will more likely than not is that their parents want them to wear it or that they are wearing it because their mothers, older sisters or aunties wear it. What use will that information be without the framework of legal and religious understanding? And what about quizzing parents, teachers and other professionals who work in primary schools and have had an influence over school uniform policies? Should they not also be quizzed?
By concentrating on little girls, I fear that Ofsted seem to be shifting the blame from schools to the very girls who are then affected by the policies set by the school. Little girls do not dictate school uniform policy; rather this is set by schools with or without consent from parents. So let’s focus on those institutions and begin a worthwhile conversation about the future of gender equality and equity in primary schools that will then no doubt have a positive impact on the rest of the child’s life beyond their early years.
Lasting and meaningful change will only come when there is mutual understanding and respect between parties, and honest, frank and uncomfortable questions around gender equality are addressed head on. However, there is a danger that some communities will not engage in any kind of conversations if they feel that they are being targeted as part of an anti-Islamic narrative being pushed by certain elements in the UK press. This is counter-productive on all levels.
The real question for Ofsted to answer should be ‘why are primary school uniform policies allowing hijab for girls under the age of puberty when Islamic laws state otherwise’. Anything else will simply not address the elephant in the room.
This blog was first written nearly two years ago. (I have amended and updated to reflect current legal positions)
In 2015, Bradford West MP, Naz Shah was suspended over Facebook posts that had been posted in 2014, one of which called for Israel to be relocated to the USA. Since then, various pieces have been written on anti-Semitism in Bradford and the lasting legacy of the relatively short but disastrous tenure of the Respect Party.
Before I became involved in Bradford politics, I was a secondary school history teacher. I taught about the persecution of Europe’s Jewish population which eventually culminated in the Holocaust, the systematic murder of 6 million Jews at the hands of Hitler’s terrifyingly efficient killing programme that was known as the Final Solution. Over the years, I became close to a couple who were both Holocaust survivors after they were invited to speak to my pupils; visited the National Holocaust Centre in Newark on school trips and organised workshops so that my pupils could prepare a presentation highlighting the plight of the slavery suffered by Jewish children in concentration camps in front of then Mayor of Kirklees, Jean Calvert. All in all, it would be fair to say that I assumed that anti-Semitism or hatred towards the Jewish people had been consigned to the annals of a shameful history, never to be repeated again.
How wrong could I have been?
During the 9 months I worked as a parliamentary aide, I was alarmed and dismayed at the causal anti-Semitism openly shown by a number of senior Respect officials. Anti-Semitic remarks were bandied about so casually that it seemed, after a while, absurd to even complain. After all, who could you even complain to when the National Secretary Chris Chilvers himself proclaimed that ‘Israel had no right to exist?’ Comments such as ‘stop being a tight Jew’ or ‘Hitler did us a massive favour’ were so commonplace that I eventually became numb to them.
When Ed Miliband came to Bradford in 2012, I made a passing remark on hoping to see his brother David as the next Labour Party leader. Immediately, I was branded a ‘Jew lover’ by Mohammed Aroof, a lawyer who worked at Chambers Solicitors. (Chambers Solicitors have since closed following fraud convictions and reopened as Liberty Law)
I have to reiterate, not everyone in Bradford is racist or harbours hatred towards Jewish or any other religious group. The majority of Bradfordians are law-abiding, tolerant and peaceful folk.
It can be hard for many people outside of Bradford to understand the psyche of a city that allows the views of a very small group of people to go unchallenged. But then, many have not come across the abject poverty, the lack of aspirations and the cripplingly low achievement levels across schools in the district. There was a prevailing sense of helplessness and despair amongst many of the young voters that Respect managed to somehow ‘tap into’ and exploit, mainly by pushing an ‘us and them’ narrative that was quickly internalised. Many felt that Respect could vocalize their own helplessness and despair in a way that for decades no other politician or political party had been able to. In turn, the Respect leadership could not afford to alienate this very core group of supporters, upon whom they now relied upon for future political successes as well as financial support for long term projects such as fund raising for the aid charity Viva Palestina.
Not everyone is as used to using sophisticated political language as certain Respect leaders, who are well versed in libel laws. Whenever ‘anti-Zionist’ or ‘anti-Israel’ rhetoric is used, some Respect supporters interpreted it as ‘anti-Jewish’ rhetoric; there was no distinction between the Jewish state (Israel), the ideology that was responsible for the formation of that state (Zionism) and the actual people who live in that state (Jewish). For some, all three are the one and same. When the Respect leadership made anti-Zionist comments, this gave their supporters further legitimacy for their own views.
A few weeks after the opening of the constituency office in 2012, some of the Respect activists decided to dress up in various costumes that were found in some old trunk in a building owned by Chambers Solicitors. These costumes included a uniform for a member of the Nazi Army, complete with armbands and a beret. After photos appeared on a private Facebook group of which I, along with my former colleagues, was a member, I was horrified and demanded their removal. My work colleagues did not feel the same as me; the general response was that there was nothing wrong with ‘some young lads playing dress up’.
Ron McKay, Rob Hoveman and other senior work colleagues seemed oblivious to the political message that these pictures were sending out (that the Respect Party were sympathetic to Nazism or to Hitler) or to the potential scandal that it would cause in the mainstream press. Eventually, I got through to Chilvers who agreed that the pictures should be removed as soon as possible.
Chilvers then instructed me to retrieve the hat discreetly from the constituency office and to return it back to Alias Yousaf, the Respect Party solicitor, having already taken care of the armbands.
Later, when I became the events co-ordinator for the Respect Party, I discussed some of my ideas with my former bosses, some of which included plans to hold celebratory events for various religious festivals as reflected by the multicultural population of Bradford. When I mentioned Hanukah and Passover, I instructed me not to include any Jewish religious festivals as doing so ‘could send out the wrong message to our supporters’. I was deeply shocked. Growing up, my parents always fasted on Passover to commemorate the Hebrew’s escape from Egypt, and it is an Islamic traditional I have since carried on myself.
When Naz Kahn/ Axa Kahn joined the Respect Party, I was alarmed at her Holocaust denial and the level of hatred she had for the Jewish people- she would regularly post pro Hitler comments on Facebook. I would counter every single of her arguments with historical fact, but I knew I was fighting a losing battle. I complained about her views regarding Hitler, the Jewish people and the Holocaust to the Respect leadership, but I was completely ignored. It seems that the Respect leadership had no issues with her views as she was eventually promoted to the position of Respect Women’s Officer.
Other members of the Respect Party posted more and more anti-Semitic posts across various social media platforms. ‘Hitler was right’ and ‘U (sic) need to be put in a gas chamber’ are just two of the examples from Amar Rafiq’s twitter feed. Instead of reprimanding or reining in members of the Respect Party, further fuel was added to the fire when it was proclaimed that Bradford West was an ‘Israel Free Zone’. This was then countered with Israeli activists coming to Bradford West to make the point that no one person had the right to stop Israelis from visiting Bradford West.
The anti- Israel/ anti-Jewish rhetoric didn’t stop there. When Respect lost the 2015 General Election, ‘Zionists’ were referenced in the conceding speech.
When it later emerged my solicitors also had a Tel Aviv office, Respect’s defeat was blamed on a worldwide conspiracy of a ‘New York- Tel Aviv axis of evil.’ Yousaf even sent out texts to people in Bradford claiming that ‘I was in cahoots with the Jews’ and that I was about to ‘receive Israeli citizenship’ which lead to phone calls asking me ‘why I was working with the Jews’. Texts from a local proprietor of a Sunday newspaper also questioned my choice of solicitors ‘Their HQ is in Tel Aviv, Israel…they set up in UK to specifically to help Israelis’.
In December 2015, Ms Kahn uploaded to the Respect Women’s Forum Facebook page an article I had written titled ‘Suicide By Stabbing’ on the spate of deadly stabbings in Israel and accused me of being a ‘Zionist Activist’ rather than a human rights activist.
In May 2017, during a hustings for the 2017 snap General Election organised by Just Yorkshire, an audience member shouted out ‘Jew Jew Jew‘ at the Labour candidate Naz Shah while she was apologising for her previous anti-Semitic comments. Her main opponent was former Respect Leader Salma Yaqoob. I live tweeted the incident and within minutes it had been picked up by many. On the way out, I was stopped by an organiser asking if I could have been mistaken in hearing those words. I was then asked to delete my tweet because ‘it will make Bradford look bad’. I refused.
On the way home, I received further phone calls and messages, demanding I remove the tweet. I was then trolled on social media by former Respect members, called a liar and an Israeli agent. Yousaf sent out even more texts about me. After I found and uploaded the recording of the incident to Twitter, the trolls then tried to claim it was not ‘Jew, Jew, Jew’ but ‘boo, boo, boo’. The incident is currently being investigated by West Yorkshire Police as a hate crime.
On Friday (10/11/17), the local newspaper reported that Naz Kahn, having now changed her name to Nasreen Khan and deleted all of her previous social media accounts, had been shortlisted as a candidate for local elections for the Labour Party. Given Nasreen Khan/ Naz Kahn’s very open history of hatred towards Jews, Israelis and Israel, for which she has never apologised, I am concerned at the message this is sending out to the rest of the world.
I am yet to receive a response to my letter to the Labour Party leadership regarding Ms Kahn’s selection. Although I do suspect the Party may find itself more busy dealing with further alarming views that Ms Khan harbours; such as ‘naming and shaming’ victims of child sex abuse cases.
I am a muslim, the little research that i have carried out all seems to point toward one direction, the so called leadership of “Israel” is bogus and are not based on any aspect of Judaism or its teachings and is on the contrary a contradiction to the fundamentals of judaism, they are most likely a zionist led organisation , i have below taken an extract from a jewish website that very concisely sums up what the ‘real’ jews believe against common zionist traits and you will most definitely be surprised to find out some of the most basic fundamentals that ‘Israel’ doing and how this blatantly opposes the teachings of the torah……I URGE YOU TO PLEASE TAKE SOME TIME TO READ THIS AND THEN DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH to gain more insight to what you are about to read
WHY ORTHODOX JEWS ARE OPPOSED TO A ZIONIST STATE
First some introductions:
1) What is “The People of Israel” ?
The People of Israel have existed for thousands of years.
They have their own particular, essential nature.
The Torah is the source of their essential nature.
Without Torah and Faith there is no People of Israel.
Whoever denies the Torah and the Faith is no longer part of the People of Israel.
The purpose of the People of Israel in this world is Divine Service.
Their salvation is occupation in Divine Service.
2) What is Zionism?
Zionism is a relatively new thing.
It has only existed for a century.
Zionism redefines the true essential nature of the People of Israel, and substitutes for it a completely contradictory and opposite character – a materialistic worldly nation. The People of Israel oppose the so-called “State of Israel” for four reasons:
FIRST — The so-called “State of Israel” is diametrically opposed and completely contradictory to the true essence and foundation of the People of Israel, as is explained above. The only time that the People of Israel were permitted to have a state was two thousand years ago when the glory of the creator was upon us, and likewise in the future when the glory of the creator will once more be revealed, and the whole world will serve Him, then He Himself (without any human effort or force of arms) will grant us a kingdom founded on Divine Service. However, a worldly state, like those possessed by other peoples, is contradictory to the true essence of the People of Israel. Whoever calls this the salvation of Israel shows that he denies the essence of the People of Israel, and substitutes another nature, a worldly materialistic nature, and therefore sets before them, a worldly materialistic “salvation,” and the means of achieving this “salvation” is also worldly and materialistic i.e. to organize a land and army. However, the true salvation of the People of Israel is to draw close to the Creator. This is not done by organization and force of arms. Rather it is done by occupation to Torah and good deeds.
SECOND — Because of all of this and other reasons the Torah forbids us to end the exile and establish a state and army until the Holy One, blessed He, in His Glory and Essence will redeem us. This is forbidden even if the state is conducted according to the law of the Torah because arising from the exile itself is forbidden, and we are required to remain under the rule of the nations of the world, as is explained in the book VAYOEL MOSHE. If we transgress this injunction, He will bring upon us (may we be spared) terrible punishment.
THIRD — Aside from arising from exile, all the deeds of the Zionists are diametrically opposed to the Faith and the Torah. Because the foundation of the Faith and Torah of Israel is that the Torah was revealed from heaven, and there is reward for those who obey it and punishment for those who transgress it. The entire People of Israel is required to obey the Torah, and whoever doesn’t want to, ceases to be part of the congregation of Israel.
FOURTH — Aside from the fact that they themselves do not obey the Torah they do everything they can to prevent anyone they get under their power from fulfilling the commands of the Torah, the claims to freedom of religion are lies. They fight with all of their strength to destroy the Faith of Israel.
The Zionists claim that they are the saviours of Israel, but this is refuted by twelve things:
FIRST — If one contemplates the two thousand years of our exile, take any hundred years even the hardest, one will not find as much suffering, bloodshed, and catastrophes for the People of Israel in the period of the Zionists, and it is known that most of the suffering of this century was caused by the Zionists, as our Rabbis warned us would be the case.
SECOND — It is openly stated in books written by the founders of Zionism that the means by which they planned to establish a state was by instigating anti-Semitism, and undermining the security of the Jews in all the lands of the world, until they would be forced to flee to their state.
THIRD — We see that most of world Jewry lives in security and under good physical conditions, and have no desire to go live in the Zionist State. Whereas many people have left the Zionist State to live under better conditions in other lands.
FOURTH — The Zionists make a great deal of propaganda to induce people to immigrate to their state. If their state is so beneficial why do they have to make so much propaganda.
FIFTH — Because nobody wants the Zionists to “save” them. The only way they can get immigrants is by promising poor people material benefits, and even then very few people respond.
SIXTH — The Zionist State is always threatened by the dangers of war. Whereas the rest of world Jewry live in peace and security, (Except in a few places where the Zionists have undermined their security and fanned the flames of hatred)
SEVENTH — The Zionist State could not continue to exist without economic support from Jews living outside of the Zionist State.
EIGHTH — The Zionist State is on the verge of economic collapse, and their money is nearly worthless.
NINTH — The Zionist State persecute all Jews who are loyal to their Faith.
TENTH — They start wars that endanger the Jewish People, for the sake of their own political interests.
ELEVENTH – According to the Torah the path of safety is following ways of peace not starting fights with other nations, as the Zionists do.
TWELFTH — Even if the Zionists could and would provide physical security it would be at the expense of our Faith and Our Torah the true People of Israel prefer death rather than life at such a cost.
It is therefore clear that Zionism is not the savior of the people of Israel. Rather it is their greatest misfortune.
Even though there are some observant Jews and rabbis, who approve of the Zionists, this is not the opinion of the Torah.
The Zionists have enough control over the American news media to make sure that only their side of the story.
The Zionists terrorize everyone who speaks out against them.
We bring three testimonies of the true opinion of the Torah.
1) In the past two thousand years of the dangers and sufferings of exile not once did any of the Sages of Israel suggest that we make a state to protect ourselves. In every generation we had thousands of Sages well versed in the Torah.
2) We have thousands of legal work of Torah law that have been handed down to us by the Sages of all generations. Not once do we see a word suggesting the establishment of a state. What we do find is warnings against it.
3) The founders of Zionism were all atheists who denied the Torah. All the Torah Sages of that time opposed them and opposed Zionism, saying that Zionism would lead only to destruction.
I URGE you to please copy and repost this on pages which are discussing palestine and Israel conflict, it is far greater to educate people and give them knowledge based on truth and facts rather then ‘opinions’ which are almost bias, the ‘pen is mightier then the sword’ so to speak
Peace be with you
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Aisha Ali-Khan <aisha.ali-khan@XXX.com>
Date: 10 November 2017 at 15:05:57 GMT
To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>
Subject: Nasreen Khan/ Naz Kahn
Dear Mr Corbyn,
I write to you with the gravest of concerns regarding one of the shortlisted candidates Nasreen Khan (previously known as Naz Khan/ Naz Kahn) for the Bradford constituency of Little Horton.
In the past, Ms Khan has expressed deeply anti Semitic views and as a Respect activist, and has worked tirelessly to harass and bully at least two local women (apart from me) over a period of 5 years
In the 2017 General Election, Ms Khan supported Salma Yaqoob against Naz Shah at local hustings. In fact, Ms Khan claimed that Naz Shah’s claims of harassment & bullying were false and that she herself had never experienced any kind of harassment and bullying. That is not surprising in the least given that Ms Khan herself was responsible for the harassment and bullying of many people while she was a member of the Respect Party and the Respect Women’s Officer. This harassment includes online and physical.
In order to give you a small flavour of the kind of harassment that Ms Khan has engaged in against me, here are a few examples; in 2014, I was subjected to a violent attack by Ms Khan at a local swimming pool, which was reported to the local police.
In December of the same year, Ms Khan rang and cancelled an event for child victims of sexual violence that I had organised at the University of Bradford by impersonating me.
She has also harassed other organisations that have been associated with me, including the Birmingham based Amira Foundation both on social media and by contacting them directly.
In previous years, she has been the subject of legal proceedings and was given an injunction preventing her from contacting a vulnerable, elderly woman whose doors and windows were smashed in on the alleged orders of Ms Khan.
Ms Khan has never apologised for her openly anti Semitic views and has only now denounced those views in light of her potential deselection. Her backtracking of her racist and facist- supporting views seems suspiciously and conveniently timed. It would seem that the local party have not conducted the requisite background checks. Had they done so, all of this and more information would have emerged thus negating Ms Khan suitability to stand as a councillor for the Labour Party.
I now urge you to take a decisive step and distance yourself from a candidate who has consistently shown herself to be a racist, a supporter of fascism and a Holocaust denier.
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By mutual agreement, and with immediate effect, Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies, has taken a leave of absence from the University of Oxford. Professor Ramadan’s teaching, supervising and examining duties will be reassigned, and he will not be present at the University or College. The University has consistently acknowledged the gravity of the allegations against Professor Ramadan, while emphasising the importance of fairness and the principles of justice and due process. An agreed leave of absence implies no presumption or acceptance of guilt and allows Professor Ramadan to address the extremely serious allegations made against him, all of which he categorically denies, while meeting our principal concern – addressing heightened and understandable distress, and putting first the wellbeing of our students and staff.
Deputy Director, Public Affairs and Communications
Public Affairs Directorate (PAD), The University of Oxford
Many thanks for your prompt response to my query regarding Professor Tariq Ramadan on Friday.
I trust you will now have had sight of the most recent allegations made against Professor Ramadan, initially made in the Tribune de Geneve and followed up in The National newspaper (links are provided below). These include the alleged grooming of, and sexual misconduct with, a number of students, one of whom was only 14 at the time.
I, along with a number of women’s rights campaigners, am concerned at the stance the University of Oxford is taking. There are now serious safeguarding concerns surrounding Professor Ramadan that need to be investigated urgently. While these investigations are underway, I urge you to suspend Professor Ramadan until the outcome is established.
It is imperative that the University sends out a strong message that any allegations of sexual assault or sexual impropriety will be dealt with urgently and thoroughly, regardless of the status or fame of the accused. Sadly, the University of Oxford’s current stance does not inspire such confidence.
If there has been any alleged sexual misconduct between Professor Ramadan and any of the students connected to the University, these students may find it difficult to come forward and reveal their experiences if they feel that the University is more concerned about protecting Professor Ramadan than considering the safeguarding concerns of its students.
A petition calling for Professor Ramadan’s suspension until the latest allegations are fully investigated has now reached over 1200* people, this number is likely to rise in the coming days. A copy of the petition is attached below for your attention.
‘In the past two weeks, a number of women have come forward and made claims of sexual assault and inappropriate sexual conduct against Professor Tariq Ramadan. The University of Oxford have confirmed to us by email that it is standing by Professor Ramadan.
We are deeply concerned about the latest set of allegations made against Professor Ramadan, first reported in the Tribune de Geneve and then in the UAE based newspaper, The National In these latest set of allegations, four former students tell of sexual assault, psychological manipulation and abuse of power they suffered at the hands of Professor Ramadan. One alleged victim, who was just 14 at the time, told the TDG that he was a “crooked, intimidating man who used perverse relational ploys and abused the trust of his students. There was such an impression on us.”
These latest allegations appear to show that Professor Ramadan abused his position of authority and responsibility by having sex with at least three of his then students, one of whom was underage. He also ignored all safeguarding procedures in place to conduct these illicit relations.
We now call upon the University of Oxford to suspend Professor Ramadan immediately until these and previous allegations made in other countries are fully investigated. While we believe in the maxim innocent until proven guilty, The University of Oxford simply cannot continue to put the welfare of its students at risk simply because the alleged incidents took place abroad.’
I hope that the University of Oxford now reconsiders its stance towards Professor Ramadan and suspends him immediately until all allegations against him are fully investigated.