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Salma's Sweet Victory

Zakia Yousaf | 11.05.2006 09:41 | Anti-racism | Culture | Social Struggles | Birmingham | London

Hijab wearing Muslim mother ousts Labour in Birmingham seat

Salma Yaqoob wins for Respect in Birmingham
Salma Yaqoob wins for Respect in Birmingham

CITY peace activist Salma Yaqoob has sensationally ousted Labour in Birmingham Sparkbrook making her the Midland’s first Respect politician.
The mother-of-three unseated Labour councillor Mohammed Azim in a landslide victory, polling in at 4,339 and taking the formerly strong Labour seat with a majority of 1,639 votes.
Ms Yaqoob is now set to become the first city councillor to take her place in the council chamber wearing a hijab.
She said she was “absolutely delighted” by her victory.
“It’s a fantastic victory for the people of Sparkbrook.
It was important that the results of this election were judgment day for Labour and Tony Blair and the people have spoken,” she told The Asian Today.
“The alternative they’ve voted for will this time genuinely represent the views of the people and I’ll fight hard for local issues because Sparkbrook is one of the most deprived areas in the country.
This is not just about Respect as a party but about attitudes and confidence in the community and that’s why I’m really pleased to represent the people of Sparkbrook. This was a positive vote for us and not just a protest vote showing that people do really want change.”
Labour representative Tahir Ali said Respect’s win would not shake his party.
“This is not about taking it personally, this is about representing the people and getting the best for the people you represent and if the people have put their trust this time round in Salma then so be it,” he said.
“Personally, I do not see or believe that Respect is a threat.”
Outgoing Labour councillor Mr Azim congratulated Ms Yaqoob on her success, saying: “She will be a very good councillor.”
It was a good turnout for Respect in the neighbouring ward of Springfield where candidate Salma Iqbal (beat the Conservatives, gaining 1,690 votes.
“I think we had absolutely phenomenal results and considering we’re a party that’s barely two years old, it’s an achievement that we should be really proud of.
“Salma Yaqoob’s win was a landslide victory and the results we’ve achieved in Aston, Handsworth, Kings Heath and so on prove that people are hungry for an alternative and that people are listening to the ideas of Respect,” she explained.
Ms Iqbal described the response to her candidacy as very supportive.
“There’s always a reluctance when you’re a single Asian woman standing in a predominantly Asian area, I was expecting at least some hostility or disapproval but the level of support that I got from all sections of the community, both young and old, male and female, black and white astounded me and I loved campaigning over the past couple of weeks because of the type of people I met, it’s been great.”

Zakia Yousaf
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