The chair of the Somali Conservatives says he has complained to the police after he was accused by Labour supporters online of being paid to campaign for the Tories.
Mohamed Ali told BuzzFeed News that while he and other Somalis were campaigning for the Conservative candidate in Ealing Central and Acton, Labour supporters photographed them and claimed online that they were being paid to campaign.
Ali said that the above photo was taken last Saturday, when they were in Acton to post campaign materials on behalf of the Tory candidate Joy Morrissey.
“The purpose of our visit was to post campaign materials for our candidate in the shop windows of the Somali businesses who offered us the space,” he said.
— Mohamed Y Ali (@Mohamed_Y_Ali) May 6, 2017
Ali said that they ran into a group of people campaigning for the Labour party candidate seeking re-election, Rupa Huq, who asked if they could take a picture of them.
“I asked what for and before I got a response another activist took a picture and they then walked away,” said Ali.
Ali said that no words were exchanged at any point.
However, the Labour activist who took the photo, Patrick Mackervaie, claimed on Facebook that a conversation did take place, and that Ali and the other activists claimed they were being paid.
He said that he saw them while canvassing and that the individual holding the poster was shouting at him from the other side of the street.
Mackervaie told BuzzFeed News he spoke about how much they were earning a day: “I laughed myself silly when he said £6.50 a day.
“I just think they were on a wind up when they saw several of us from Labour canvassing the same street.”
However, the man holding the poster, Abdirachid Fidow, denied to BuzzFeed News that any such claim had been made.
He said: “Labour is so bad and they are losing their core traditional supporters because some members of Labour party office in Acton think they have [a] monopoly over [minorities].”
— Joy Morrissey (@joymorrissey) May 7, 2017
Fidow said that the claims were offensive and racist. He added. “He is saying that Somalis get involved in politics to get paid.”
Since the photo was taken, Ali said that they had received online abuse from Labour supporters.
Ali called the accusations “deeply offensive and racist” and said he has reported them to the police as a hate crime.
He said: “For a party that purports to be anti-racist it is racist in the extreme to suggest anyone of colour could not voluntarily support a Conservative candidate. Exactly how does an anonymous slur on an ethnic community fit in to Labour’s anti-racist agenda?”
Said Hassan, 27, a lecturer from Kingsbury who was also leafleting for Morrissey, said they had been subjected to abuse from people online and in person. “The comments made online have been deeply hurtful and cause great offensive to me and my friends. We would expect this type of dirty campaigning from the extreme far right not Labour party members.”
Hanad Darwish, 23, from east London, was also campaigning in Acton. He said: “This incident signifies the complacency on the part of the Labour party towards certain ethnic minority communities as they have always taken their support and votes for granted so the shift in the political tide and for them to witness a rise in young, black and Muslim males joining the Tories is a bit of a shock.”
— The Muffin Man (@MuffinThrower) May 7, 2017
The claim that the campaigners were being paid to do so led the local Tory candidate to intervene.
She told BuzzFeed News that she doesn’t normally dignify anonymous slurs from male labour trolls with a response.
But she added: “However, I would direct you to the comments of Mohamed Ali, who wondered where these ethnic insults fit into Labour’s anti-racist agenda – and that the reason he and his friends support me is because no Ealing councillor has put more time and effort into helping all our communities – unlike my Labour colleagues. ”
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Ealing Labour for comment.
Somali-British poet Momtaza Mehri named young people’s laureate for London
THE GUARDIAN — The 24-year-old Somali-British poet Momtaza Mehri, who has been chosen as the new young people’s laureate for London, is hoping to spend her year in the role convincing young people “to see poetry as part of their every day, rather than in some dusty tome, or academic niche interest”.
Mehri, who has a background in biochemical science and wrote the poetry chapbook sugah. lump. prayer, has been shortlisted for this year’s Brunel African poetry prize and won last year’s Out-Spoken Page poetry prize. As laureate, Mehri hopes to encourage young people to voice their concerns and experiences through poetry.
The poet, from Kilburn in north-west London, was selected for the role by a panel of arts organisations and poets, and is, according to Spread the Word’s chair of trustees Rishi Dastidar, “an inspired choice” and a “poet to watch”.
“For young people to have an artist who is an ambassador for them, who brings their concerns, struggles and joys to those in authority, and the wider world, is vital,” Dastidar said. “Her poetry is precise and powerful, and rich with images that are haunting. She is not afraid to tackle the biggest of subjects, which, combined with her talent, is going to give the role a renewed sense of purpose and visibility.”
Mehri said she was exposed to oral forms of poetry by her family when growing up, but only began writing for publication around four years ago. “Over time I honed, or found, my voice, and that allowed me to feel comfortable, finding the poetic voice I felt was most suited to me. Obviously at the beginning you’re very much inspired by your influences,” she said. “I think the poetry I write is interested in questions or ideas around disruption or movement, whether it’s movement of people or places, movement between different ideas, between how things change over different generations, and in themes of migration and urban spaces.”
During her time in the role, Mehri will be looking to amplify the voices of Londoners aged between 13 and 25, “to let them lead conversations, to be as inspired by them as hopefully they can be inspired by me”. She will work with writer-development agency Spread the Word on youth-focused residencies across London, head a tour to six outer London boroughs, and co-host a special project for young London poets called The Young People’s Poetry Lab.
According to research from the National Literacy Trust, 84% of teachers who participated in a poetry programme for disadvantaged children in London schools over a five-year period said their writing skills had improved.
Outgoing young people’s laureate for London, Caleb Femi, said that “poetry has the potential to play a vital part in self-expression and artistic enjoyment in the lives of young people”.
“We need a dedicated person who can assist in integrating the joys of poetry into the everydayness of young Londoners,” he added. “We are extremely lucky to have a talented and dedicated poet such as Momtaza Mehri appointed as the new young people’s laureate for London. Her tenure is sure to be an extraordinary one.”
Mehri said that she wanted to: “Reach everybody, to allow people to see poetry as part of everyday living in London, and all the different poetry traditions that people bring to London.”
“I am very much aware of the fact that I came out of a very different poetic tradition, and what that’s brought to my writing of the English language. So I want to be aware of the fact that people are carrying different poetic influences, whether they consider themselves poets or not,” she said.
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London lawyer acquitted of forcing daughter to undergo female genital mutilation
LONDON, (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A London solicitor accused of forcing his daughter to undergo female genital mutilation was acquitted on Thursday, increasing pressure on police and prosecutors who have yet to secure a conviction for FGM more than 30 years after it was outlawed.
The prosecution was only the second to be brought under FGM legislation introduced in 1985.
During a nine-day trial at London’s Central Criminal Court, the prosecution alleged that the defendant had twice arranged for someone to come to the family home to cut his daughter as a form of punishment when she was around nine years old.
But the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said in an emotional testimony that the allegations were fabrications arising from a very acrimonious divorce.
He said his wife had repeatedly threatened to destroy him and had turned their children against him.
“I didn’t cut my daughter. I would never hurt my daughter,” he told the jury. “I would give my life for my children.”
A medical expert confirmed the girl’s genitalia had been cut but said the scars were unusual and could not say when the injuries occurred.
The 50-year-old lawyer, who comes from West Africa, said FGM was not practiced in his community and he had no idea who had cut his daughter. He was also cleared of three counts of child cruelty.
Police and prosecutors have faced mounting pressure in recent years to secure a conviction for FGM as part of broader efforts to eradicate the practice, which usually involves the partial or total removal of external genitalia.
An estimated 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales have undergone FGM, which affects immigrant communities from various countries including Somalia, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt.
Politicians and campaigners, who believe thousands of girls in Britain are at risk of FGM, have said a successful prosecution would act as a deterrent.
Prosecutors were criticised over the first FGM trial in 2015 when a doctor was accused of performing FGM while treating a woman who had given birth. He was acquitted.
A leading obstetrician branded the trial a “ludicrous” travesty of justice which would leave doctors on labour wards terrified of touching women who had been subjected to FGM.
A second trial involving FGM – but brought under child cruelty laws – collapsed last month. (Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)