Allegation that Muslim councillors blocked female Muslims from standing for election

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn Credit: Jonathan Brady / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been urged to act after a Birmingham women’s group claimed male Muslim councillors were blocking female Muslims from standing for election because of ‘systematic misogyny’.

Muslim Women’s Network UK made an official complaint to the party claiming female candidates had been ‘undermined, sabotaged and blocked’ from standing for public office.

In a letter to the Labour leader, Shaista Gohir, chairman of the group, wrote:

Ms Gohir claimed that “able, knowledgeable and independent-minded Muslim women have been undermined, sabotaged and blocked from becoming councillors”, with many selection “deals” stitched up behind closed doors.

She said that they would like the Labour party "to hold an independent inquiry into how Muslim women are being marginalised by local Labour politicians".

Optician Fozia Parveen told BBC’s Newsnight that her efforts to become a Labour councillor in Birmingham in 2007/8 were scuppered by men within the party.

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn Credit: PA / PA Wire/Press Association Images
Khalid Mahmood, MP Credit: Labour Party / The Labour Party/Press Association Images

This week Khalid Mahmood, MP, called for Birmingham Central Mosque to hold its first elections in 30 years and to allow women to become trustees.

The mosque currently has 39 male-only trustees.

Mosque trustees denied dealing with any forced marriage cases in a statement defending its under-fire Chairman Muhammad Afzal.

The statement followed a complaint from Ms Gohir, who said Mr Afzal had denied forced marriages were an issue during a meeting with her group in December.

She also alleged he stated more men than women were victims of domestic violence.

City councillor Mr Afzal was forced to stand down as Lord Mayor elect after being caught on tape calling David Cameron an Islamophobe at a protest meeting about Prevent terrorism legislation and planned Ofsted inspections of madrassas.