It came as a shock to many how the infamous Daily Mail of all media outlets exposed three Prospective Parliamentary Candidates who are ‘frowned upon’ by the British Muslim community, writes Dilly Hussain.
It’s been an interesting few weeks for Muslim PPC’s in the run up to the General Election. The Daily Mail, which is perceived with much contempt by many British Muslims, appears to have gained some kudos, albeit momentary, in ‘exposing’ specific PPC’s from the three main political parties who are far from popular by their fellow co-religionists.
Afzal Amin and the EDL Booby Trap
Last month, the Mail on Sunday (MoS) revealed how the Tory PPC for Dudley North, Afzal Amin, plotted to arrange a fake English Defence League (EDL) rally against the construction of a mega mosque to secure both Muslim and non-Muslim votes. This Machiavellian attempt at causing racial discord by the former British Army officer was leaked by none other than the former leader of the EDL, Tommy Robinson. Video and audio recordings secretly taken by Robinson showed Amin voicing his aspirations of being the “next Prime Minister”, offering money to secure votes, his determination to organise a hoax EDL rally, and readiness to be the bridge between the far-right group and the House of Commons.
The aforementioned led to the inevitable resignation of Amin, though he tried his best to ‘contextualise’ the damning evidence obtained by the MoS with no avail. In the midst of the Amin-EDL affair, there were other factors and players involved, which raised questions about the sincerity of prominent Muslim PPC’s, who up until now, have been promoted by the political establishment and welcomed with open arms by the mainstream media, as shining examples of ‘progressive liberal Muslims’.
The missing jigsaw in this particular scandal was a multi-millionaire businessman from Birmingham, who was thought to have been bankrolling Amin’s campaign according to Robinson. To add to the controversy, Robinson claimed on LBC radio and Twitter that he was introduced to Amin by the Quilliam Foundation, which made perfect sense, as the co-founder of the anti-extremism think-tank is a known accomplice of both men…
Maajid Nawaz’s Night Out in the East End
Another PPC caught ‘behaving badly’ was former Islamist turned ‘feminist’, Maajid Nawaz. The Daily Mail published CCTV footage which showed a “very drunk” Nawaz visiting an East London strip club during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan for his “stag night” – four months prior to his wedding. The accounts given by the club’s manager and owner described how Nawaz “harassed” and “groped” a female dancer, and had received numerous warnings by security for his behaviour. Being a parliamentary hopeful who claims to be an advocate of women’s rights, this led to the hash tag #SleazyMaajid trending on Twitter throughout last weekend, with fellow feminists and liberals grilling Nawaz for allegedly harassing the dancer.
The pressure continued to mount on Nawaz as he denied the alleged harassment. Nevertheless, this did not stop the likes of Sara Khan of women’s rights group ‘Inspire’, and a public endorser of Nawaz, to condemn the father-of-one’s extracurricular activities as “hypocritical”. But unlike Amin, who resigned from the Tories within a week, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, came out in defence of Nawaz yesterday, stating that he would not act as the “thought police”. The Deputy PM had previously defended Nawaz when he posted a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad on Twitter, which offended thousands of British Muslims.
However, sources within the Lib Dems told 5Pillars earlier this week that Clegg was actually “pulling his hair out” over the strip club incident, and that Nawaz’s political career “was over”, but it was too late to replace him as a PPC for Hampstead and Kilburn because the deadline had passed. This was reaffirmed by another Lib Dem MP, as well as an article published by the International Business Times (IBT) that the Party would not be injecting any money into Nawaz’s campaign.
Members of the public, especially on social media, are now questioning why the Lib Dems are not investigating this allegation. Though an overwhelming majority of liberals would unequivocally defend Nawaz’s right to drink alcohol and visit a strip club during Ramadan as assimilation to ‘British values’; the crux of the matter is whether this behaviour would be acceptable if it were a waitress or a female work colleague that was “groped”? Nawaz, who enjoys regular airtime on numerous mainstream media outlets, also runs the risk of being shunned by the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky News, as a voice of ‘Muslim liberals’ and male feminists.
Tulip Siddiq and President Putin
Even Nawaz’s opponent, Tulip Siddiq, who is running as a PPC for Labour in Hampstead, was hounded by the Daily Mail for meeting President Vladmir Putin at the signing of a multi-billion dollar arms deal. Siddiq, who is the niece of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, failed to tell voters that she met the Russian President at the Kremlin in 2013 with her aunt. Her warm relationship with two authoritarian heads of states, one which she kept a secret, discredits Siddiq’s commitment to the ‘democratic’ value of transparency.
With PPC’s belonging to the main three political parties up to all kinds of dubious endeavours, from plotting fake rallies with far-right groups, to allegedly groping female dancers at strip clubs, and failing to disclose dealings with despotic rulers, inevitably, this raises genuine questions regarding the credibility of these candidates who voters are expected to trust in the upcoming General Election. Furthermore, what is more concerning is the lack of vigilance and discipline demonstrated by the leadership of the three parties in addressing these incidents.
Surely the time is nigh for voters, both Muslims and non-Muslims, to think before they tick the ballot paper, and seriously contemplate about the parties and their local MPs who they will be choosing to delegate on their behalf in Parliament; and whether they are even capable of doing that responsibly with no strings, hidden agendas or secrets attached.