Statement on Salma Yaqoob
Salma is presently facing a smear campaign, headed by the “Campaign Against Anti-Semitism”, to secure her suspension from membership of the Labour Party
The Stop the War Coalition expresses its unequivocal solidarity with Salma Yaqoob, the founder and president of Birmingham StWC and one of our national Patrons. Salma is presently facing a smear campaign, headed by the “Campaign Against Anti-Semitism”, to secure her suspension from membership of the Labour Party.
Salma has a very long record of campaigning against racism and war, and she has always opposed anti-Semitism. She has been at the centre of a number of initiatives against racism and has always stressed the importance of working with those of all religions. She has played a prominent role as an anti-racist both in Birmingham and nationally, and she has been subject to racist attacks on social media because of her determination to campaign over issues such as war and Palestinian rights. She is regarded as a role model for British women of Asian heritage and we are proud of her long association with our movement.
The present attacks against Salma are an attempt to silence this sort of campaigning. Recently, the same Campaign demanded the exclusion from Labour of two black women MPs, Diane Abbott and Belle Ribeiro-Addy on the flimsy pretext that they addressed an online meeting which included expelled Labour Party members in the audience, not on the platform. Black women in public life like Diane, Belle and Salma receive far more online and in-person abuse and threats than any other section of the population, and it is deeply irresponsible of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism to be adding fuel to this fire. Whether or not it is a conscious strategy, this targeting of black women must stop – the evil of anti-semitism cannot be fought by pandering to other equally disgusting prejudices.
Stop the War Coalition has always stood against racism in all its forms and is implacably opposed to anti-Semitism. We do however insist on our right to oppose government foreign policy which has led to a series of disastrous wars over the course of this century. We have also supported justice for the Palestinian people and refuse to accept that criticism of the Israeli government and its policies can be construed as anti-Semitic. Indeed, such criticism is essential when the Israeli government appears poised to illegally annexe more Palestinian territory with the connivance of President Trump.
The meeting to which objection has been made is organised by Birmingham Stop the War for later this month and is not being addressed by Salma in any case. She is speaking at one in July on a similar theme. Local StWC groups act autonomously in deciding their platforms, but we note that Tony Greenstein has never been asked to address a national StWC meeting. StWC rejects both anti-Semitism and abusive language in political debate.