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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Salma Yaqoob: Leader of Respect

[Salma Yaqoob is the third woman from the right.]

Introduction

Salman Yaqoob was born in 1971. (That was three years after ‘68’ and at least two years before ‘73’.) She was born in the ‘dark satanic city’ (John ‘Motson’ Motty) of Bradford, 200 miles north of Islington and 1000 miles west of Pakistan. (Salma Yaqoob is known as ‘Salma Yaqoob’ to her friends, of which she has a hundred and one – some of whom are her friends.) She is the leader of Respect the Unity Coalition, which is a unity of Muslims, far leftists, Muslims, far leftists, Muslims and the Rev Ray Gaston. Yaqoob is also a Birmingham City Councillor in the city of Birmingham. Her motto is ‘Us Brummies Together!’ which she coined while on a visit to Pakistan to engage with the Pakistani-wing of Respect, Jamaat e-Islami. She is also the head of the Birmingham Stop the Infidel Wars Coalition (see Islam and the Abode of War) and a spokesperson for Birmingham Central Mosque, in the centre of Birmingham. The moderate nature of this mosque was graphically seen when Channel 4 ‘cobbled together’ various clips of joint-smoking imans saying nice things about ‘gay boys’ and the need to ‘respect diversity’.

Salami Yaboob also does stuff for the red-fascist streeting-fighting group, Unite Against White Fascism.

Upbringing

She has lost her once very strong Bradford (Grammar) accent. She now has a very strong Brummie accent, which goes down a treat at Birmingham and Islington dinner parties. Despite differing views within her local community, her father was determined to support his children's education at the Bradford schools which were guaranteed to be free from poor Bangladeshi boys and girls. She studied Psychology and Diversity at university and then became a Islamo-Trotskyist psycho.

Stuff

In her youth she was concerned about the treatment of women in countries such as Pakistan and cities like Bradord, and even considered converting to Christianity (so as to able to frequently speak and write about ‘nearly converting to Christianity’ to the Guardian and Radio 4 in future years). However she concluded that ‘the Koran gave women more rights than the kufr’s Bible - the rights to stay at home and wear the niqab or hijab’. She began wearing the hijab herself at 18 (which is when she started to wear the hijab). She sees the Koran ‘as a rad-fem manual with lots of stuff on female masturbation and women’s collectives’. ‘The Prophet Mohammad himself, peace be beneath him,’ according to Yaqoob, ‘was a New Man and he simply adored the work of Sapho.’ He also ‘knew how to change the nappies of his many wives, especially the nine-year-old Aisha’s nappie’.

Yaqoob became more politically active after the Twin Towers’ ‘reprisal attack’ of September 11th 2001. She made a memorable appearance as an audience plant on the political BBC programme Question Time just days after the attacks were celebrated by her fellow Muslims. This appearance became a somewhat infamous episode due to the large number of moderate Muslim activists in the audience who made explicit reference to the widely held view that 9/11 was tied in with the American government's foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East region, which is precisely what Yaqoob believes (but in a quieter manner). The BBC eventually apologised to the American ambassador for his treatment on the programme. Salmon herself was very upset that she had been spat at in the street in the days following the attacks (something she 'doesn’t like talking about before breakfast').

It has been suggested that she played a crucial role in inviting fellow Muslims into an anti-war movement previously dominated by Marxists and the SWP, but now dominated by Marxists, the SWP and Muslims. This ‘was not surprising because the wars were against Muslims and not against Marxists’ (though ‘Saddam Hussein was a Marxist’, according to George Mohammad Galloway) .She has argued against the idea, put forward by what she calls religious fundamentalists and sectarian right-wingers, that Muslims and non-Muslims cannot work together, as well as against what she claims are calls for Muslims to ‘keep their heads down when bombs go off’ from within the Muslim community. She said that these ‘religious fundamentalists’ came from the wrong parts of Pakistan and, in any case, ‘us Muslims should bide our time and wait for Western civilisation to give them the keys to the kingdom completely’. As for the ‘sectarian right-wingers’, Yaqoob said that ‘her all-Muslim and all-Pakistani Respect Party would fight against all examples of sectarianism’. Yaqoob also said that she ‘prefers sectarian left-wingers to sectarian right-wingers’.

Yaqoob had very little experience of far-left politics prior to September 11 although she had been involved in the 'Justice for the Yemen Seven' campaign after her family became embroiled in the proceedings. This campaign was to support seven (later, eight) British Muslims who were accused by the Yemeni authorities for terrorist activities in its capital Sana’a in December 1998.
Yaqoob said that this was ‘shear prejudice because everyone knows that Muslims are never terrorists – the terrorists are actually Jainists’.

After their conviction, protests and lobbying in Britain eventually resulted in release of most of them. Since then, her penchant for Islamist terrorists and their ‘reprisal attacks’ has grown and grown and is the main reason why she is asked to write for the Guardian at least once a week.

Yaqoob also wrote an article in a Muslim affairs magazine, Trends, edited by Idiot Bunglingwallah (the ‘Beardless One’), which forcasted, in three to four months, an Islamic Republic of Great Britain. The article concluded with the author Salman Rushdie having his bollocks removed by Yaqoob herself. Although many commentators said ‘the article was just tongue-in-cheek’, Yaqoob herself insists that she ‘was deadly serious when she wrote it’.

At the Clash of Civilisations conference, organised by Ken Livingstone on 20 January 2007, Salma Yaqoob described the 7/7 terrorist attacks on London as ‘reprisal attacks’. Yaqoob, and Red Ken’s best friend moderate extremist, Yusuf al-Qaradawi (Arabic: يوسف القرضاوي), both said: ‘We are unequivocally against terrorism – Western terrorism against Muslims.’ The greatest ‘acts of terrorism’ included freeing Iraq of Saddam’s regime, piping billions of pounds into the Pakistani, Egypt and Saudi Arabian states, Bush and Blair’s visits to mosques after 9/11, and only allowing British Muslims to build around 50 mosques each year in the UK. They ‘would not tolerate such acts of terrorism’.

Politics

In the 2005 general election, she stood as the Respect candidate for the Birmingham Islamic Republic of Sparkbrook constituency against Labour's Roger Allahsiff MP, with the backing of the officially moderate Moderate Muslim Association of (Not Great) Britain. She finished in second place, ahead of the Liberal Democrat and Conservative candidates, and with 27.5% of the total vote – which means that 73.5% voters were non-Muslims, which Yaqoob said ‘is a racist disgrace!’ During the campaign, Yaqoob had faced harassment and death threats from her family, her husband and al Ghurabaa, a takfiri Islamist group later banned under the Terrorism Act 2006 (which Yaqoob otherwise spoke out against). Al-Ghurabaa claimed that it is an act of apostasy for Muslims to participate in Western democratic elections, and its members defaced her election posters with the word ‘Kafir.' Yaqoob replied saying that she ‘is undermining secucular democracy from within’. But Al-Ghurabaa didn’t believe her because she was having so much fun as the First Muslim Lady of Birmingham. And Yaqoob herself said that she would only ever use the term kafir if it were applied to non-Muslims and that it is unfair to use it in any other context.

Yaqoob was elected with 49.4% of the vote in the Sparkbrook ward of Birmingham City Council in the 2006 UK local election. This means that about 51% of voters in Sparkbrook are either non-Muslim or belonged to the wrong Pakistani tribe (i.e., not Yaqoob’s). She claimed that her election ‘challenged the traditional conservatism that denies leading public positions to women, and challenged the old order, which treats our communities as silent voting fodder. And it was only possible because we united people around a progressive message of anti-racism and social justice.’ She ‘promised not to challenge the racism of Pakistan, the Sudan and Suadi Arabia’ because she didn’t ‘like inteferring in the affairs of other countries, unless that other country is Israel or the US’.

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