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UK Muslims urged to vote against Labour
May 31, 2004 19:34 IST
Tony Blair's hopes of patching up relations with the Muslim community have been dealt a blow by the Muslim Association of Britain, which is urging its members not to vote Labour at next week's European elections, reports The Guardian.
Calling on Muslims across the country to back anti-war candidates, the association has published guidelines for voters on it's website recommending candidates for certain regions. It endorses the anti-war party, Respect, in four regions where they are strongest, the paper said.
In the south-east, it calls on them to vote for Green MEP Caroline Lucas, who has spoken passionately against the war and campaigned against the French opposition to Muslim girls wearing hijab in schools, said The Guardian article.
In the London mayoral contest, the incumbent, Ken Livingstone, wins their endorsement because of his record for London Muslims and consistent opposition to the war, but he is the only Labour candidate to do so, it said.
Labour has been trying woo the Muslim community by campaigning on measures it has introduced, such as stamp duty changes to encourage Islamic mortgages, the sponsorship of an annual pilgrimage to Mecca and state-funded Islamic schools, the article said.
The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, has also stressed Labour's record of two Muslim MPS, three Muslim candidates in safe Labour seats, four Muslim peers and 200 Muslim councilors, it said.
But the government anticipates a battering from the 2 million Muslims in Britain over the Iraq war, particularly in metropolitan districts with large ethnic communities, the article said.
The Muslim association, which says it has about 1,000 paid-up members as well as other sympathisers, is not the national body for the Muslim community, the Muslim Council of Britain.