‘Smears’ against a prospective Labour MP candidate described as ‘pure and utter racism’

Shaista Aziz, prospective parliamentary candidate for Labour in Nottingham East
Afroze Fatima Zaidi

Shaista Aziz recently announced her intention to stand as Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) in Nottingham East. Aziz has a solid track record of community work, activism and advocacy, and has been a Labour councillor in Oxford since 2018.

Unfortunately though, as happens so often with Muslims, People of Colour, and especially visibly Muslim women in the public sphere, Aziz’s campaign has immediately been subjected to Islamophobic smears and accusations of antisemitism.

Smear campaign

On 25 October, Harry’s Place published an article that makes Islamophobic insinuations, equating Aziz’s position on the Islamic concept of ‘jihad’ with sympathy for suicide bombers. The article was shared by the Labour Against Antisemitism campaign on Twitter, who claimed Aziz has a “track record of alleged terrorist activity & antisemitism”.

More recently, Harry’s Place published another article but the insinuations remain much the same.

However, many argued that these accusations are not unrelated to the fact that Aziz is a visibly Muslim Woman of Colour with clearly socialist politics. Samayya Afzal, from the Muslim Council of Britain, described Aziz’s experience as “pure and utter racism”:

Aziz’s response

Aziz has responded to the allegations on Twitter:

Aziz said her words had been taken “out of context”. She also apologised for using any language that may have been offensive to Jewish people. And she suggested these were cynical attempts to smear her by people who simply disliked the idea of a visibly Muslim woman candidate:

Support from the Jewish community

In the wake of the controversy, Aziz has received widespread support, including from members of the Jewish community:

Islamophobia

Aziz’s identity as a visibly Muslim woman cannot be removed from the smear campaign against her. People have pointed to the “dangerous” implications of such campaigns against Muslims in public space:

Nevertheless, Aziz has the support and backing of many who see these as attempts to undermine her candidacy:

Outlets like Harry’s Place, along with all the people who support them, will just have to live with the fact that Muslim women are here to stay. They are claiming their space in British public life, and they will not remain silent.

Featured image via YouTube/ BigBigTroubleVideo

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