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MCB urges Labour to address Islamophobia allegations

The Muslim Council of Britain said it noted with ‘grave concern’ reports of anti-Muslim behaviour in the Labour Party [file photo/Getty]

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has raised concern about the Labour Party’s treatment of candidates in the upcoming general election, after a Muslim woman was unexpectedly barred from contesting a seat over complaints regarding her social media activity related to Israel and Gaza.

In a statement published on Thursday, the council urged the party to clarify why Faiza Shaheen was banned from standing and to address the Islamophobia allegations.

“We note with grave concern of fresh allegations of Islamophobia coming out of the Labour Party. This is being exemplified by a British woman reportedly being blocking from standing as a Member of Parliament,” MCB said in a statement.

Earlier this week, the left-wing Labour Party abruptly banned Shaheen from contesting a London seat in the 4 July general election, after allegedly receiving complaints from a Jewish Labour group over a post on X that she ‘liked’.

The council, which advocates for the UK’s Muslim community, said it hoped that the election campaign would be respectful to all religious or minority groups.

“We have said in the past that there should be no room for any form of racism and Islamophobia in our political parties. As citizens keen to take part in our country’s democratic culture, our political parties should not allow hostile environments to emerge for British Muslims.”

The statement added that the Labour Party should be most aware, considering it is home to the UK’s first black woman MP and first Muslim MP.

Since the outbreak of the Gaza war, the party has come under scrutiny from some of its core supporters over its pro-Israel stance.

More recently, the party has been accused of purging left-wing candidates whose views are more closely aligned with Labour’s previous leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In an emotional interview on BBC Newsnight on Wednesday, Shaheen told presenter Victoria Derbyshire that she did not remember liking the particular post but understood why some people might have found it offensive.

The post in question was reportedly a video clip of a comedy sketch by Jewish American comedian John Stewart about pro-Israel lobbyists.

Speaking on the BBC an hour after she received an email from Labour HQ telling her she was barred from running, Shaheen expressed her shock and said she had built up support among the community in Chingford and Woodford Green constituency in northeast London for years.

She spoke about the many interfaith dialogues and community events she held post 7 October, including with the local rabbi.

“I am a strong supporter of Palestine, I do watch the news and I was really hoping with what’s happening now [in Gaza], to be a strong voice,” she said.

She added that she had raised in meetings the concerns people had over Labour’s initial stance on Gaza, which centred on Sir Keir Starmer in October stating that Israel did have a right to implement a full siege on the Palestinian enclave.

The remarks, though later revoked by Starmer, caused further outrage among Muslim voters and other groups critical of Israel’s war.

Many are expected to support independent candidates in the July election, including Jeremy Corbyn, although polls are predicting a clear win for Starmer’s party following 14 years of Conservative rule.

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