Jeremy Corbyn to review allegations of 'systematic misogyny' towards female Muslim council candidates

Muslim Women's Rights Network UK says Muslim male councillors block female activists from standing for office

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Indy Politics

Jeremy Corbyn is expected to consider allegations made by a leading women’s charity that female Muslim Labour activists have been blocked from standing for local elections by Muslim male councillors. 

The Muslim Women’s Network UK (MWNUK) accused the national Labour party of turning “a blind eye” to the “systematic misogyny” of Muslim Labour councillors during selection processes in certain towns and cities across the UK.

In a letter to Mr Corbyn, MWNUK’s chairwoman Shaista Gohir said the party had allowed local Muslim councillors to operate a “patriarchal biradari system” where men could intimidate or slander women considering running for local office. 

One alleged victim, Fozia Paveen, told Newsnight that male councillors had operated a “smear campaign” against her when she attempted to stand as a councillor in Birmingham in 2007-8, and had threatened her mother.

Another said she was told to withdraw her candidacy for a council seat in Peterborough because she did not have her father’s permission or support. 

The claims were supported by Labour MP Gavin Shuker, who said he had raised concerns about the bullying of female Muslim party members in his constituency party within the last three years. 

The party was accused of having a weak response to the allegations on Saturday but a Labour source told the Guardian Mr Corbyn would now look at the letter and respond in due course. 

In an official statement on Friday, the party denied the allegations saying the “election procedures include strong positive action procedures such as all-women shortlists and rules to ensure women are selected in winnable council seats”.

Ms Gohir, who has also written to David Cameron about black and asian minority candidates in the Conservative selection process, said she was initially disappointed by Mr Corbyn’s response. 

She said the issue affected all parties but was particularly acute in the Labour party due to the high concentration of Labour-voting Muslim communities in some towns and cities.