Tuesday, 6 June 2017

"I am staying. I am fighting for the people of Bradford West."

I have noted the distasteful accusations being made on social media about me and honour killings, and slurs related to anti-semitism. This is in addition to threats by Naz Shah's supporters directed at my family, my supporters and me since the start of my positive campaign. A supporter who had my poster in their window has had their window smashed. Tyres have been slashed on a car which carried my poster. Banners and posts are removed during the night, and supporters who have them up are being intimidated. These incidents are in the process of being reported to the relevant authorities.
Whilst I should have expected the spreading of false rumours from some of Naz Shah’s supporters, I would not expect support for this by people in public positions.
I have consciously chosen to remain silent, in the hope that we could focus on issues that matter, which is the people of Bradford West. I have maintained my stance – the people of Bradford West have been neglected, their rights forgotten, their hopes shattered. The time for positive change is now.
I must, however, now speak up against the incessant negative campaign against my character. I fear not for my own life, but the lives of my family; not for my character, but for the reputation and peace of people in Bradford who are already fed up with this kind of politicking.
The recent social media attacks against me have made me sick to the stomach - no-one’s death should be used to score cheap political points. Honour killing is an abhorrent crime and I respect anyone – even, of course, political opponents – who take a stance against it.
I have championed women’s rights and freedoms, condemned honour killings, stood against racism in all its forms including anti-Semitism, and will continue to do so throughout my life. I have never and will never support honour killings in any shape or form.
As a candidate running for election, I cannot control who attends events or hustings I am invited to, who shakes my hand or sits at my table at a dinner. I have no control over who votes for me or doesn’t.
But, I do have control over whether I choose to fight or walk away. I am staying. I am fighting for the people of Bradford West so they can have a fair chance to escape tribal and mob politics which a minority engage in to the detriment of the majority.
I respectfully urge political opponents and their supporters to cease with the smear campaign and threatening behaviour, and join me in bringing positive change and prosperity to Bradford West.
Salma Yaqoob