Redbridge councillor says Muslim women need greater support in politics

Cllr Farah Hussain joined the Street Pastors for a patrol around Ilford Lane.

Cllr Farah Hussain joined the Street Pastors for a patrol around Ilford Lane. - Credit: Archant

The Labour party needs to ensure it is a space for Muslim women, or it risks missing out on their skills and talents, a councillor has argued.

Cllr Farah Hussain, ward member for Valentines, says being a Muslim woman in the party is well aligned with the party’s values.

“There’s no reason that you can’t do both,” she told the Recorder.

“I think they fit in well together in theory – the values of justice and equality are also important in my faith.

“But, in reality, because the party is so decentralised, it does mean that pockets of Muslim men have imported their style of politics into the party.

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“It is a problem experienced by some Muslim women.”

Cllr Hussain, who is also the cabinet member for housing, says she has received many messages of support for raising the issue of discrimination within the party.

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She is calling for equality and diversity training to be made mandatory for all constituency Labour parties and groups.

“When I brought this up, I got so many messages from men and women thanking me,” she said.

“People are aware that it is going on, but it’s not being discussed properly.

“Earlier this year, Newsnight highlighted the discrimination faced by some Muslim women who wish to become councillors.

“It wasn’t a surprise to many of us and although it is not happening everywhere, it is a problem experienced by Muslim women within the party.

“For example, after Naz Shah stood as an MP, a photograph of her in a bar was distributed in an attempt to discredit her and stop her from standing.

“The party’s response was to highlight the way to report abuse, but if Labour wants to seriously encourage Muslim women to be active in the party, it needs to first acknowledge that it has a problem.”

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