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June 09, 2001

Only two Muslim MPs elected

Khalid Mahmood has become Britain's second Muslim MP after successfully defending the seat vacated by former Social Security Minister Jeff Rooker at Birmingham Perry Barr despite a campaign against him by members of the constituency Labour Party, reports this month's The Muslim News. "It is a sad reflection of the three main political parties that only two Muslim candidates out of a record number of 27 were elected for the Parliament. The gross under-representation of Muslims in the Parliament shows the failure of democracy in Britain," argues the paper.
The former city councillor, originally from Kashmir, joins his Labour colleague Mohammad Sarwar, who was returned to the House of Commons with an increased majority in Glasgow Govan
A record 49 Muslim candidates, up from 39 in 1997, in last Thursday's General Election. The number included 27 from the three main parties, but the overwhelming majority were positioned in virtually 'unwinnable' seats.
Mahmood's victory came despite much acrimony over his candidacy, which other parties tried to capitalise upon. The result saw him elected with a dramatically reduced majority of 8,753, nearly half of Labourís majority in the seat at the last election.
But in Glasgow, Sarwar saw increased his majority more than doubled to 6,400 in an 8.4 per cent swing against the Scottish Nationalists. His initial victory in 1997, when he became Britain's first-ever Muslim MP, was also followed by acrimonious allegations against him, which he was cleared of, but only after being suspended from the Labour Party.
Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats had any of
their Muslim candidates elected, but several saw significant swings
in their favour, especially in constituencies with sizeable Muslim
voters.
In Bradford North, Conservative candidate Zahid Iqbal cut the
majority held by Labour's first Mormon MP Terry Rooney by nearly a
third to 8,969, but in Bradford West, Mohammad Riaz failed to reduce
the majority held by Labour's Sikh MP Marsha Singh.
One of the best Conservative performances was by Muslim convert
Rasjid Skinner, who more than halved Reg Prentice's majority in
Pendle, northwest England to 4,275. In nearby Bolton, Haroon Rashid
gained a 5.7 per cent swing against Labour Jewish MP Brian Iddon.
Among the 10 Muslim Liberal Democrat candidates, the most fielded
by a British party, only two, who were standing for the second time,
made any significant progress.
In Manchester's Withington constituency, Yasmin Zalzala advanced
from third to second place with a 7.5 per cent swing against Labour, while her northern England colleague in Sheffield, Ali Qadar cut Labour's majority by a quarter.
In Britain's most populous Muslim constituency, Birmingham
Sparkbrook and Small Heath, no less than six Muslim candidates
contested the seat but ended shared the spoils without making real
cuts into the huge majority held by Labour's Roger Godsiff.

Notes for editors: Detailed breakdown of the Muslim candidates, parties and constituencies is available on request.

June 9, 2001

For further information contact us on 020 7608 2822 or 077 68 241 325. Please acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release

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