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Islamophobic attack forces Labour’s Muslim MP, Apsana Begum, to flee conference

October 11, 2023 at 3:54 pm

Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse Apsana Begum addresses an audience in Brighton, UK on September 28, 2021 [Leon Neal/Getty Images]

Muslim female Labour MP, Apsana Begum, has been forced to flee the Labour conference after being subjected to a torrent of Islamophobic abuse and due to concerns over her safety. The attack on Begum is said to have been sparked by misinformation spread by a Tory MP, Greg Hands, over her support for Palestine.

According to Novara Media, Hands, who is Chair of the Tory party, wrote to his Labour counterpart, Anneliese Dodds, on Monday, demanding that Begum have the whip withdrawn. He claimed that the MP for Labour and Limehouse had “tweeted her ‘solidarity’ with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC)”.

Begum had not, in fact, tweeted anything; instead, the PSC had thanked Begum via its own X account for her pre-arranged visit to the stall on Saturday at the Labour conference. Citing the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, Hands claimed that the PSC is anti-Semitic and urged Labour not only to remove the pro-Palestine organisation but also to discipline Begum.

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The letter to Dodds has been shared on the social media platform X.

“You have said you will clean up your party, yet reports are that you will not take action to suspend the Labour Whip against Apsana Begum or remove the PSC from your conference,” Hands said in his letter pressuring Labour to take action. “To have a Labour MP publicly associating with such an organisation raises questions about the Party’s commitment to maintaining ethical standards and responsible conduct within its ranks.”

Hands’ letter unleashed a torrent of misogynistic and Islamophobic abuse at Begum, both online and offline, Novara Media reported. Some of it describing Begum as a “bitch”, “female slave” and “part of the caliphate”. The attacks, which are currently being investigated by the police, led Begum’s staff to fear for her safety. Begum decided to leave the conference on Monday.

The PSC stall was visited by Labour Lord Alf Dubs, a Jewish Holocaust survivor and refugee rights advocate, as well as several other MPs.

While a number of Labour MPs have expressed solidarity with Begum, Keir Starmer and members of his shadow cabinet have yet to say anything about the abuse. Begum has not only been faced with shocking Islamophobic attack, she has also been subjected to a witch hunt by Starmer’s Labour. The prospect of de-selection remains a possibility.

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