UK’s Liberal Democrats to fight discrimination against Muslims

By Murtaza Ali Shah

LONDON: The leader of the Liberal Democrats has promised he will fight against anti-Muslim discrimination perpetrated by the government and the police in many guises.

Riding high in the opinion polls and looking set to be a potential kingmaker after the 6th May election, Nick Clegg told this newspaper exclusively that his party was completely against the anti-Muslim prejudice at all levels and will campaign to end the discrimination that hurts Muslim communities, from restricting stop and search, to scrapping control orders, to getting innocent people off the DNA database.

“We’re also pushing for changes to reduce discrimination against Muslims in the work place, including anonymous job application forms and pay audits to make sure people aren’t being paid unfairly,” Clegg said, who whop has seen his star rise in the last few weeks in a way unseen in the modern political history.

Almost all polls point to a hung parliament with no conclusive winners and this a result the two major parties Labour and Conservative desperately want to avoid but the “hung parliament” is what suits the centrist Liberal Democrats. At the third place for years, Liberal Democrats never enjoyed the popular support and could never hover above 19-20 % of the popular vote. That all underwent a radical change when during the first ever televised debate between leaders of the three main parties, Nick Clegg came from behind to stun the nation with a slick delivery, outmanoeuvring both Gordon Brown and David Cameron. Since then his party has not only pushed Labour to the third place, in some opinion polls his party is only a point behind the Conservatives. The political establishment agrees now that the race is three-horse, a hung parliament is the most likely outcome and that Nick Clegg’s role will be pivotal in forming the next government.

Nick Clegg tells this correspondent that the new political reality in Britain is a sign of the times that it’s Liberal Democrats who have the answers on the big question now facing Britain. He is, however, consistent in saying that he is not the kingmaker – “the British people are.” He says he will take his marching orders from them, the voters, as they have “the moral authority to be the first to seek to govern”.

Lib Dems didn’t support the Labour-backed legislation that was aimed at outlawing fanning of hatred against British Muslims. Clegg says his party opposed only because the legislation was vague and it risked outlawing the legitimate differences of opinion but “we were very much in favour, for instance, of allowing higher sentences to be imposed where offences were motivated by religious prejudice.”

Lib Dems say they exist to† bring down prejudice and spread tolerance but their parliamentary ranks remain white-dominated and they have given tickets to only two candidates from Muslim/Pakistani background with a good Lib Dem support but with a lot of tough fight at hands from the Labour and Conservatives.

Nick Clegg says that the decision to award tickets in two key seats to Qurban Hussein in Luton South and Tariq Khan in Birmingham Hodge Hill mean that we want to change the look our party. Clegg says he is against the excessive police powers and their almost selective use against British Muslims and finds it “deeply, deeply unfair”.


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