Preston mosques demand local Labour group calls for Keir Starmer resignation

Posted on - 10th November, 2023 - 9:28am | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston Council, Preston News
Masjid E Noor Mosque
Masjid E Noor Mosque

Every mosque in Preston has issued a “demand” for Labour councillors in the city to call on Sir Keir Starmer to resign over his stance on the conflict in Gaza.

A statement issued on behalf of Preston’s 20 mosques sets a deadline of 5pm on Friday by which point the places of worship want Labour city and county councillors to have signed a joint letter telling their national party leader to go.

The elected representatives have been advised by the mosques that the names of those who put pen to paper, as requested, “will be shared with the communities that we serve”.

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One of the Muslim community leaders behind the move rejected the suggestion that it amounted to an implicit threat to those who did not ultimately appear on the list – but did describe it as the councillors’ “Iraq War moment”.

The ruling Labour group on Preston City Council has issued an open response to the mosques, shared with the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), which reiterates the local party’s call for a ceasefire – something which Sir Keir has so far refused to back. However, it adds that councillors are “limited in our capacity to influence national and international decision-making”.

Mukhtar Master, the Muslim lead on Preston’s faith covenant, says that the city’s mosques “could not sit idly by and allow the atrocities [in Gaza] to continue without any opposition”.

According to the Gazan health ministry – run by Hamas, the UK-proscribed terror organisation that controls the Gaza Strip – over 10,000 Palestinians have so far been killed there during Israel’s response to the Hamas attack on its territory, on 7th October, in which more than 1,300 Israelis died and over 200 were kidnapped.  Israel says that it is targeting Hamas militants, not civilians.

Mr. Master told the LDRS: “Gaza is now one month into the most intense bombing campaign and genocide in modern history.

“The Muslim community have historically supported the Labour Party, yet have found the current leader out of touch with public sentiment.

“The bombing and genocide must stop immediately and hence the Muslim community has taken the unprecedented step of demanding that local councillors agree to signing a joint letter asking for Keir Starmer’s resignation. Starmer has unflinchingly defended Israel’s right to ‘massacre’ men, women and an average of 160 children a day, according to the World Health Organisation.

“Many councillors have previously signed letters [calling] for a ceasefire, but this action is a true test of their intentions and will show their true colours.

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“In fact, it will be their ‘Iraq War moment’ – just as the electorate will forever remember those MPs who voted for war in Parliament, the public will remember those who did not do the right thing when it comes to Gaza and Palestine, and demand that their leader, Keir Starmer, resigns,” Mr. Master said.

Preston City Council’s 31 ruling Labour members broke ranks with the national party almost a fortnight ago by calling for a ceasefire in the conflict – but were still later accused, after a meeting with the Muslim community, of a “lame” response to the situation.

Of the six Labour Lancashire county councillors with seats in Preston – three of whom are also city council cabinet members – County Hall’s Preston City division representative, Yousuf Motala, has already called for Sir Keir Starmer to quit.

The city council Labour group’s open response to the mosque’s demand states: “We are in active discussion with all our communities in Preston, including our Muslim community, as we understand the strong feelings that exist regarding this ongoing conflict.

“We have made our position clear that, as a Labour group, we back the call for an immediate ceasefire and [were] one of the first to do so.

“We also have to acknowledge we are city councillors and are, at times, limited in our capacity to influence national and international decision-making,” the statement concludes.

It is not known if any further response has been issued directly to the mosques.

Sir Keir Starmer has supported Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s call for a “pause” in the fighting in order to allow aid into Gaza and to attempt to get hostages out, but has said that a ceasefire at the moment would simply enable Hamas to stay in control of the territory.

Statement in full

“The mosques of Preston in Lancashire, and indeed the communities that we serve, can no longer tolerate the continued silence of our leaders to the genocide and human rights abuses that we are witnessing every day from Gaza and the Occupied West Bank in Palestine.

“As such, we are left with no option but to take unprecedented measures to ensure that we get an immediate and unconditional ceasefire.

“We, the mosques of Preston in Lancashire, demand that all our local Labour councillors commit to signing a joint letter calling for the immediate resignation of the Labour leader, Keir Starmer.

“The names of all the signatories will be shared with the communities that we serve.

“The deadline for this request is 5pm Friday 10th November.”

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