The Chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque, a Labour city Councillor who is set to become the UK’s second city’s Lord Mayor in May, has labeled the Prime Minister an ‘Islamophobe’ and called for a boycott of the government’s new anti extremism laws.
Muhammad Afzal argued that the “disgraceful” PREVENT strategy unfairly targets Muslims, who should “resist” the policy, and claimed that there was no evidence that British Muslims are traveling to Syria.
In July last year PREVENT, which is designed to help authorities identify people at risk of radicalisation, was given more legal force, meaning teachers and some medical staff are now legally compelled to report those at risk.
It has also been extended to Islamic religious schools, or ‘madrasas’, which the councillor labeled “Islamophobic.”
Mr. Afzal attacked the policy at a meeting jointly organised with Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) in Highgate, Birmingham.
Congratulations to Birmingham's senior Cllr. Muhammad Afzal; Lord Mayor Elect 2016/17 pic.twitter.com/UDAMW6I2kl
— Changese Khan (@ChangeseKhan) January 12, 2016
According to the Birmingham Mail, he said: “I think the Prime Minister is an Islamophobe, he never talks about anything else but Muslim extremism.
“It is ridiculous that the government is saying Muslims are becoming radicalised. David Cameron says 500 people have gone to Syria to become radicalised, but where is the evidence? And out of a population of three million Muslims in the UK, what kind of percentage is that?”
He added: “The government wants to inspect madrassas, which is racist. Ofsted are losing their neutrality and what we’ll find is that madrassas will be closing down under this legislation which is totally ridiculous.
“We should oppose this legislation. Everyone should sign the petition and make individual efforts to resist it and tell your local MP to support us.”
Such groups also argue the policy unfairly targets Muslims and children, sighting examples such as the Muslim boy who was allegedly investigated for misspelling “terraced” as “terrorists” in his homework. The story was later exposed as having been misleadingly reported by the BBC.
It was just two weeks ago that Councillor Afzal was selected by Labour Party colleagues to become the next Lord Mayor of Birmingham, a city which is was around 22 per cent Muslim and 27 per cent Asian at the point of the 2011 census.
He notably lost his seat during the fall out from a 2004 postal vote fraud court case, but was later cleared of personal involvement and re-elected to the Council.