Thursday, 29 April 2010

All out for the final weekend!

The final week of the campaign is upon us and we need every possible supporter to come to Hall Green this weekend. Our last leaflet has just arrived and we are going to deliver it to every home in the constituency. Its a big job, and has to be done quickly, so please give whatever help you can. 

We are meeting at 12 noon on Saturday, Sunday and Monday at our office at 95 Walford Road, Sparkbrook B11 1NP. For more information ring 07812 172 885.
If you can't make it at that time, don't worry. The office is open most of the day, and there is always something to be done. Just phone 07812 172 885 if you can help in any way.

It is going to be a tough fight in the last week, but the support we have is fantastic. Help us make history on 6 May!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Respect Manifesto

The Respect party manifesto has been launched in Manchester. You can download a copy here.

Read reports about the manifesto launch here (Birmingham Post) and here (BBC News).

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

‘Student Fees freeze promise’

I have signed the NUS pledge to oppose increases in student fees although I would go further than putting a cap of fees. I believe they should be scrapped altogether. It is wrong that politicians who themselves were the beneficiaries of a free university education are denying new generations the same right. Education has always been the route by which people better themselves. We need to be ensuring that right for our young people without them having to be burdened with thousands of pounds worth of debt before they even commence their working lives.

Banner on Stratford Road

Monday, 26 April 2010

Swastikas in Kings Heath Park

This morning I was shocked to see Nazi swastikas graffitied on signs and trees in my local Kings Heath Park. I was not the only one. The park is very popular with local residents and many stopped to express their anger and outrage to me at the sight of the vile Nazi symbols.

One local resident, Mr Rawicz, who is of Polish descent, talked about how his family knew only too well the reality of fascist hate. A number of us complained to the Park Rangers and called for urgent action to ensure the removal of the swastikas.

The far right are gaining confidence. They are feeding off the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric of the mainstream politicians. They pose a real threat and we have to be vigilant against them. They must not be allowed to embed their message of hate in British society. I am confident the British people will not let them. The only thing the racist vandals achieved is to deface a beautiful park and unite all the park users against them.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

More dirty tricks!

I am hearing reports from my canvassing teams that the opposition parties are up to more dirty tricks. Apparently Labour canvassers are saying I am ‘funded’ by the Communist Party! Well, that’s not true. And some Lib Dem canvassers are saying to Muslim voters that it is ‘haram’ (forbidden) to vote for a woman!! Obviously, the Lib Dems as a party don’t believe this. Perhaps their candidate Jerry Evans could do me the courtesy of more forcefully stressing his party's position to his own supporters. Either way, the dirty tricks won’t wash with the electorate.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Hello Edgar!

No election campaign is complete without a photo of a gorgeous baby, so here is ours! This is Edgar, son of proud dad Mark Perryman, looking resplendent in his ‘I am England’ t-shirt and Respect rosette. Thanks to both of them for helping with my campaign this weekend.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Last two weekends before election day!

I will be out campaigning over the weekend. If you would like to join me meet at my campaign office at 12.30pm tomorrow, Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th April. We are based at 95 Walford Rd, Sparkbrook, B11 1PN. Hope to see you there!

‘Respect candidate spearheads quiet revolution to get Muslim women involved in politics’

‘Not afraid to speak her mind, Salma Yaqoob is well aware that she is a challenge to traditional Muslim political culture.’ The Guardian have done a big feature. You can read more here.

A song from Delroy!

‘I am England’ - Happy St George’s Day!

Today is St. George’s Day and it is fitting that on this day Philosophy Football, backed by Kick it Out, football's equality and inclusion campaign, are launching their ‘I am England’ campaign. Campaign organiser Mark Perryman explains its aim. 'I am England is very positive and simple. We can all be England, if we choose to be, no qualifications are required to become a fan, no exclusions demanded to determine who can and cannot be a supporter.'

I am supporting this campaign. Check out its great launch video here.  With the World Cup fast approaching I really like the idea of as many people as possible, from all backgrounds, saying loud and proud, ‘I am England!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

'Show us the money!' protest comes to Kings Heath

The ‘show us the money!’ banker protest rolled into Kings Heath earlier this week. Despite huge amounts of public money being given to bail out the banks, many local small businesses are still finding it hard to get the credit they need to get through these difficult economic times. Owners and staff are worried about their futures and they have reason to be. Tuesday’s protest in Kings Heath High Street, like the others on the Stratford Road and Ladypool Road, was lively and good humoured. We received a very warm response from shoppers and local workers.

Monday, 19 April 2010

A visit to Frank's Boxing Gym

Yesterday I visited one of the best youth initiatives in Sparkbrook, Frank’s Boxing Gym.

I have always been impressed with the comradeship, discipline and respect Frank and his team instil in the youngsters they train, and my own son Hamza is now a regular at the gym. He loves going, and I can see why.

Click on the images to enlarge them, and check out the site later for a short video of my visit.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Afghanistan: 10 reasons the troops should come home

Stop the War have produced a new pamphlet about the war in Afghanistan. Leading Respect member Andy Newman, who I am proud to say was campaigning with me today in Sparkbrook, has written a succinct summary.

‘The pamphlet explains how the war has not liberated women, how opium production has flourished, how the “democracy” in Afghanistan is corrupt and shallow, and how the military action is an obstacle to economic reconstruction.

There is no positive outcome that can come from continuation of the war. It has revived the political-economy of warlordism, where the national government only has partial control of much of Afghanistan, and is required to mediate with warlords who depend upon constant conflict, and are parasitic on the economy.

The prognosis for “Afghanistanisation” of the conflict assumes that the Afghan police, army and civic government are capable of taking on the task, or are even on the road to building that capability. They are not.

Afghanistan is completely awash with graft, corruption, crime and extortion, and The UN Report on Drugs and Crime Prevention estimates that $2.3 billion in bribes paid per year amounts to 23% of the entire GDP. 54% of Afghans beeive that international organisations and NGOs are “corrupt and in the country just to get rich”.

NATO even sets aside money itself to give to the insurgents. The Times reported in October 2009 that the Italian government pays the Taliban not to attack their troops. On 28th January this year at the International Conference on Afghanistan a regular fund of $100 million a year was proposed to pay warlords to stop fighting.This is a disastrous strategy that cannot bring enduring peace as it structurally consolidates the system of warlordism which is incompatible with the objective of building a stable national state and a civic society with a productive economy. Yet before the NATO invasion, warlordism was in decline.

Afghanistan cannot move forward unless the war stops, and Western troops withdraw. But while that is a necessary condition for peace, it is not a sufficient one. The cycle of warlordism needs to be broken; this requires international cooperation especially from the countries bordering Afghanistan, and it may be a long process.

But sadly, despite the terrible sacrifices of the war; NATO’s presence is actually perpetuating the problems, and indeed reinforcing the warlords.’

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Green Party response to Roger

Labour’s Roger Godsiff is at it again. Now he claims I have somehow misled the Green Party who are endorsing me for MP! Ben Bradley, the Election Coordinator for the Birmingham Green Party, puts him right.

Friday, 16 April 2010

A call out to supporters!

Please help with my campaign this weekend. We will be going door-to-door in the constituency. Our canvassing teams all have experienced canvassers leading them so don’t worry if you are a first timer!

Meet 12.30pm Saturday - 17th April - and Sunday - 18th April at 95 Walford Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham B11 1NP. For more info ring 07812 172 885.

We have been getting a fantastic reponse and the campaign is fun. Why not come along and experience it for yourself?!

Roger Godsiff's desperate deceit

More here.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Vote Lib Dem and get a Tory

Some voters choose the Lib Dems because they think they are a progressive alternative to the Tories. Given how often they seem to put the Conservatives in power it is hard to understand why.

That’s certainly our experience in Birmingham. If you vote Lib Dem you get a Tory council, with all the job cuts, swimming pool closures, and reductions in services that inevitably follow.

There is no doubt that Labour’s handling of the economy has been disastrous. Gordon Brown has finally admitted that New Labour’s failure to control the banks was a mistake.  Unfortunately this admission is not ‘better late than never’ – the damage has already been done. What we need from Labour is a completely different course; one based on investing in our public services and not savage cuts.

But don’t say you haven’t been warned about the Lib Dems. They are not promising anything better than Labour’s mistakes. In fact, they are promising a whole lot worse.

The Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, Vince Cable, doesn’t mince his words. He says the country is “in for a nasty shock”, claiming that as many as 120,000 public sector jobs would be cut following the election.

Cable also made it very clear that he has little in common with Labour. There is, he said “a very, very fundamental disagreement between the two parties”. The Lib Dems are not going to form the next government. But they could very well help to decide who the next Prime Minister will be.

It’s the same old story. Vote Lib Dem and get a Tory.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Protest against greedy banks

More here.

Labour’s desperate deceit

Well, I have been waiting for the dirty politics to start and true to form Roger Godsiff has not disappointed. He is warming up by giving the impression I am only standing for councillor and not MP! (My council term is up in May and I am contesting both council and MP seats). His leaflet is a carefully worded deceit. Click on the image to read for yourself. In the Urdu press, his team have not even bothered with the implication but stated blatantly I am not standing for MP!

Even though most people are cynical about politicians, they still find it hard to accept when the same politicians shamelessly attempt to deceive them. They get angry when the discover they are being treated like fools, and already this little ruse is backfiring badly. After 18 years as MP is this really the best Roger Godsiff can come up with? I would like to say no, but in all honesty, I fully expect more, and much worse, of the same in the next three weeks.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Another protest at bankers daylight robbery

Another noisy protest against the banks made its way up the Stratford Road yesterday, following the equally lively demonstration at the end of March.

The banks have taken huge amounts of public money, have continued to pay extortionate salaries and bonuses, but despite all that government support they are not lending to the real economy in anything like the amounts needed. Local businesses are angry at the failure to release credit, which is threatening the jobs of many people in an area already suffering from high unemployment. Protestors carried coffins and placards accusing the banks of burying local businesses and jobs.

I accompanied local businessman, Gurt Singh, as he visited bank after bank asking for credit. Barclays, Nat West, Lloyds TSB and Halifax all got a visit. Some even took  fright and started locking up! The only robbery, of course, has been by the banks at the public's expense.

Once again we got a great response with lots of support from shoppers and shopkeepers, and plenty of beeping horns from passing drivers.

'Godsiff Goes Underground'

Read the full story from The Stirrer website here.

George Galloway on the Daily Politics Show

George appeared on Andrew Neil's Daily Politics show and predicted Respect will collect three seats and could have a crucial role in a hung Parliament.

You can watch the video on the BBC website here

Monday, 12 April 2010

A visit to Apna Ghar Day Care Centre

I have been visiting the Apna Ghar (‘Our home’) Care Centre in Balsall Heath for older people of Asian heritage. They provide a wonderful service in a warm friendly atmosphere. Instead of being stuck at home, feeling lonely and isolated, our elders have a venue where they can meet and interact with each other. I was struck by the professionalism of the staff and the appreciation of the users. And I was reminded that it is exactly services like this which will be hit in the current cuts climate. All the more reason to resist the lazy political consensus that justify them.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Not for sale!

Yesterday afternoon was taken up campaigning on the Stratford Road. The response was fantastic with lots of shops taking my campaign posters to display. Thanks to everybody who joined me. Thanks also to the leafleting teams who have been up since 8am this morning delivering my latest leaflet in Hall Green ward.

For those who could not make it to the hustings in Balsall Heath Stephen Woodward has put together a slide of photos.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Latest campaign publicity

The news that Labour MP Lynne Jones is backing my campaign has been picked up by the BBC. You can read their report here.

This weekend my campaign team will be delivering our new publicity highlighting Lynne’s endorsement. The weather is warm, it feels like summer is the air, it will be good fun, so why not join us?! If you would like to help please ring my campaign hotline on 078 121 72885.

The images are of my new leaflet. To read it, just click on them.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Roger the Dodger...

With your support I can win this fight!

This has been a very big week for my campaign. Following hot on the heels of my launch rally which had over 1,000 people at it, comes the news that Labour MP Lynne Jones is endorsing my campaign. Lynne’s endorsement, combined with support from the Green Party in Birmingham, gives my campaign a greater cross-party reach than any other candidate.

I strongly believe that with your support I can win this seat. I will be out campaigning over the weekend. If you have any free time, I would really appreciate if you could spare me an hour or two. Please drop into my campaign office on and speak to the volunteers about what time you can offer and how best you can help.

Campaign supporters will be meeting this Saturday 10 April and Sunday April at 12.30pm in the Respect office on 95 Walford Road, Sparkbrook, B11 1NP. View map here.

We will also be meeting at on Saturday 10th April at 6.30pm at the Dar, Muslim Students House, 517 Moseley Road, B12 OBX next to Moseley swimming baths. View map here.

Hopefully see you over the weekend!

(Photo is from Frank's boxing gym in Sparkbrook).

‘Labour MP Lynne Jones backs Respect's Salma Yaqoob in Hall Green battle’

'Retiring Labour MP Lynne Jones has dropped a bombshell on her party by backing a candidate from a rival party to replace her in the House of Commons. Dr Jones is refusing to vote for Roger Godsiff, the Labour candidate in the Birmingham constituency where she lives.

Instead, she is supporting Salma Yaqoob, high-profile candidate for the Respect Party and a Sparkbrook councillor.

Her announcement is a blow to Labour’s hopes of holding on to the Hall Green constituency, where it was already facing a strong challenge from Respect.'

From today's Birmingham Post. Read more.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Today's hustings on the Ed Doolan Show

I have just come from the BBC WM’s Ed Doolan Show where all the candidates contesting the Hall Green seat were quizzed on a range of subjects from the shortage of school places, to support for local shopkeepers. We finished off with an opportunity to say why we should be elected.

Labour's Roger Godsiff claimed to be an MP who tells the truth and talks straight. Perhaps that's why he managed to vote both for and against the Iraq war in a space of days. True to form, Roger largely busied himself throughout with lots of posturing.

He claimed he championed opposition to the introduction of the Red Route and resident concerns over the redevelopment of Edgbaston Cricket ground. This surprised me considering he was notable by his absence on both issues. He awoke to the Red Route issue after the campaign got going. Indeed, both the local Labour councillor and Jerry Evans did nothing to oppose it when it was at committee stage. It is simply a matter of record that I was the person who put the Red Route back on the political map, raising the issue in the Council House and media. Unfortunately, the critical decisions were taken before I was even elected. Perhaps if Roger had represented the interests of local residents at the time rather than posturing about them now, we might have prevented the Red Route going through.

Two campaign hustings later today

I will be taking part in two hustings debates later today with all Hall Green parliamentary candidates for the forthcoming General Election. One debate begins at 12.30pm on the Ed Doolan Show (that's Ed in the photo) on BBC Radio WM. You can listen live here or listen to the recorded show here. The second husting will take place at Balsall Heath Church Centre in Mary St at 7pm. Hopefully see you there!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

'If there is no struggle, there is no progress'

I have always thought it crazy that 16 year olds could be sent to war, but could not vote against the politicians who wanted to send them there. I support proposals to lower the voting age. But even if such changes were introduced, how many young people would avail of the opportunity to vote?

Survey after survey shows that young people have strong opinions about politics, but very little faith in the political system. Parliament is seen as aloof, sleazy and indifferent. Many feel cynical about whether their vote makes any difference. That cynicism is understandable, but doesn’t really help much.
If we want change, we have to engage. As the great anti-slavery campaigner Fredrick Douglas said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.” That struggle is waged outside parliament, for example, by workers in trade unions campaigning for decent wages and conditions, by people trying to raise awareness and solidarity about climate change, or Third World Debt, or Palestine.

But that struggle can also waged inside Parliament as well. One of the great weaknesses of the anti-war movement was that while we had plenty of supporters on the streets, we had few inside the House of Commons. That needs to change. Parliament needs to be more representative of the people.

On May 6 this country will elect a new parliament. If you want Britain to be more committed to values of peace, justice and equality, you need to put politicians into parliament who will advocate on your behalf. But in order to vote you have got to be registered to vote. The closing date to register is April 20. The General Election is an opportunity to effect change. My advice would be, don’t waste it.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

1,000 attend election rally

It has been a busy weekend, to put it mildly! Yesterday over 1,000 people attended a rally in Sparkbrook in support of my campaign to be MP. By any standards for a political meeting that’s a phenomenal turnout, made all the more impressive considering it was built pretty much by word of mouth and personal invite.

There was a powerful sense of unity at the event, with many prominent local Labour supporters in attendance and pledging support. A lot of people wanted to speak, so it was nearly two hours before the special guest speaker took to the podium. As ever, George Galloway was his insightful, powerful and eloquent self. George took time out from his own campaign in East London to travel to Birmingham to speak in support of mine and I owe a special thanks to him for doing so.

I was really touched by the warmth of the support I received yesterday. And to put the size of the event in perspective, when supporters of Labour’s Roger Godsiff and Lib Dem Jerry Evans tried to organize similar events, they attracted 30 and 80 people respectively.

Political pundits like to talk about ‘momentum’ in politics. Well, yesterday was evidence that my campaign has certainly got some, and it’s having an infectious impact!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Let's have no double standards

Yesterday's EDL protest in Dudley exposed their true face.

Tired of political speeches, many of the racists turned to fighting each other, then the police, before breaking through police lines and heading towards the Unite Against Fascism event. Fortunately the police were able to contain the rampaging  thugs before they were able to cause serious damage or injury. 

The EDL mobilised at least 1,000 people in support of a hate-filled agenda of attacks on Islam and Muslims. They carried Islamaphobic placards and chanted "If they build a f**g mosque, burn it down". This is a direct call for racist violence. 

I am quite sure that if gangs of Muslims were maurading through our town centres threatening to burn down churches that special laws would be passed, task forces established, and people prosecuted.

Let us not have double standards. The EDL are seeking to incite violence against the Muslim community and undermine community relations. They should feel the full force of the law for so doing.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

‘One Dudley, Many Cultures’

Well done to the organisers of yesterday's peaceful festival celebrating Dudley's multicultural identity. The festival send out a strong message of community unity in response to the English Defence League's message of hate and intolerance. The EDL want confrontation on the streets that can be presented in the media as evidence of Muslim and non-Muslim communities at war with each other. They failed yesterday and resorted instead to venting their violence on each other and the Police. In the process they exposed themselves for the group of racist hooligans that they really are. Well done too to the Police, council officers and local political, religious and community figures for working together in such a positive and cooperative manner.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Desi Donors - Amun Ali Appeal

More here.

Bristol Respect Campaign Team

More here.

Larches Park Community Fun Day

More here.

‘Prison for young people costly and fails to reduce crime’

Too many of our young people are being locked up for non-violent offences. And for many, once they do jail time, it can mark the beginning of a life long engagement with the criminal justice system. The authors of a new report argue that 'prison makes it more likely for a young person to reoffend, be unemployed and live in poverty'. They propose alternatives that reduce instances of reoffending while saving taxpayers money. 'Sending a child to prison now costs £140k a year, far more than a place at Eton. £60 million could be saved through a move to more local justice.'   It is well worth a read.

Friday, 2 April 2010

We need changes to funeral services in Birmingham

There is no more traumatic experience that dealing with the loss of a loved one. And as anybody who has experienced it will testify, the burial process is an integral part of coming to terms with their death. Unfortunately, too many grieving families in Birmingham face difficulties in making funeral arrangements for their loved ones.

For communities where there is a religious emphasis on a speedy burial, existing services are often found lacking. For example, if a person dies on the weekend, it is difficult to get a GP to sign a death certificate. Cemeteries open for only a few hours, the number of burials that take place is limited, delaying burial. In the cases where a Post Mortem is required by law, not only is there a long waiting time, but the family is not given the option of an MRI scan which is non-invasive and leaves the body intact. All this results in families pleading with the Coroner or Councillors to help them get things done when in actual fact there is little either can do. The system need to change.

Death, as with birth, does not happen only Monday to Friday. Just as with maternity services or accident services, we need a seven day a week service. That is why I have launched a campaign today to changes to funeral services in Birmingham. It has three demands.

One, rapid body release on weekends. Two, longer opening times for cemeteries to allow for evening burial to reduce delays. Three, using MRI scans, a type of ‘x-ray’, instead of cutting into bodies in cases where a Post Mortem is required by law.

Other cities such as Bradford and Leicester have made similar changes already. Birmingham should too. Please email me at or ring 078 121 72885 if you would like to help.

Photo is of Gulfraz Khan and Shanaz Tahir, father and sister of Sarfraz Khan who was recently tragically killed. They have had to go through the trauma of Post Mortem and delayed body release and are supporting my campaign for a change in funeral services.

'A voice for all'

This weekend I will be busy distributing my new leaflet. Its theme is ‘A voice for ALL communities’. Its message is one close to my heart. Respect for each other, irrespective of race, faith or background, is the bedrock upon which our society rests. A celebration of Britain as being one society composed of many cultures, is at the core of our multicultural identity.

Unfortunately, this is a concept under threat. As this week’s regional election results in Italy once again highlight, the far right are growing across Europe. The responsibility for this lies with the mainstream parties. By their constant scapegoating of asylum seekers and immigrants, by their feeding of fear and ignorance about Islam and Muslims, by their failure to bridge the gap between rich and poor, the mainstream parties have left a sense of bitterness, betrayal and abandonment that has increased the growth of the far right.

The politics of racial and religious intolerance offers nothing to Britain but fear and hate. If elected I will try to use my position as MP to be a champion for all communities, to defend our multicultural values, and to be an advocate for a fairer and more equitable society for all. If you share these values and principles, I need your help to promote them.

Some resident concerns

Resident associations are a vital part of the infrastructure of local democracy. They are invariably held together by selfless individuals who do lots of unglamorous but very important work for the betterment of their neighbours.

I attended two such meetings recently. Residents at Kinver Croft in Balsall Heath were preoccupied with beautifying their environment. They voted unanimously to take part in this years Britain in Bloom and had lots of ideas and enthusiasm about how their estate could have the strongest entry.

Residents in Fallows Road in Sparkbrook had issues of car burglaries and concerns about the local chicken factory to deal with. Police officers and ward councillors were are in attendance and the meeting voted for the installation of a CCTV camera. They also agreed to more formally organise themselves and elected a Chair and Vice Chair.

I forgot to take photos of the resident meetings so here is a picture of some flowers blooming in Kings Heath Park instead. It was taken at a time when it felt like Spring had arrived!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Bank holiday weekend campaigning

I am expecting the election to be called after the weekend so we have got some last minute billboards going up and new leaflets going out. We have a hectic weekend planned and I would appreciate any offers of help.

We will be meeting at 12.30pm on both Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th April at our office on 95 Walford Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham B11 1NP. Until we get around to putting the Respect banner up, it is identifiable by the 'Bushra' sign outside. For more info or updates, please call 078 121 72885.

Larches Park clean-up helps build community spirit

I’ve been working closely with Larches Park Residents Group recently to help them improve their local neighbourhood and regain confidence in the use of their local park.

Larches Park has been one of the areas that was left neglected for many years and had got pretty run down. Parents didn’t feel comfortable bringing their kids there.

Along with the residents group, fellow Respect Cllr Mohammed Ishtiaq, various local agencies and community police, we prioritised improving the park. It got a lick of paint, was tidied up, the  play equipment was bought back into use and the park took on a new lease of life.
To celebrate this achievement, Larches Park Residents Group held a successful fun day to which I was invited. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Chair Asghar Ali and Secretary Miriam Hussain for their committment and hard work in helping revive an important community resource.
In the pictures I am joined by local families and children, Larches Park Residents Group chair Asghar Ali and local PSCO community officers Natasha Bruckshaw and Meryl Crawford from Balsall Heath Police Station.

Bangladesh Independence Day

On Monday evening I joined Birmingham's Bangladeshi community at the Bia Lounge in Small Heath to celebrate Bangladesh Independence Day, which took place on 26th March. The event also marked International Mother Language Day in celebration of Bangla being the country's national tongue.

The banquet and festivities recognised Bangladeshi culture and highlighted the rich contribution the Bangladeshi community has made to the city. Over 200 people attended the celebrations. The event was also attended by the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Dr M. Sayeedur Rahman.

I am of Pakistani heritage, born in England. I am proud of my heritage and my nationality. With my background I could not fail to be aware of the legacy of the terrible conflict that led to Bangladeshi independence. It is understandable that such experiences provoke strong feelings from all sides, even many years later.

As a British citizen I have criticised the actions of British governments, past and present. And as someone of Pakistani heritage I think it is necessary to look at Pakistan's history with a critical eye as well. In neither case should it be seen as a form of disloyalty.

The background to the war in 1971 was institutionalised discrimination and racism. The democratic will of the people of East Pakistan was ignored and the army was brutally used against its own people. The resulting war is a dark chapter in the history of Pakistan. Wrong is wrong, no matter who commits it.

You can watch a video of the event, courtesy of I Am Birmingham, here.