Corbyn urged to act against 'systematic misogyny' of Muslim men in Labour party
GETTY Fozia Parveen said she was blocked from being elected as councilor in Birmingham in 2008
A women's organisation from Birmingham have accused Labour of 'turning a blind eye' to Muslim men who they say are preventing Muslim women from standing in local council elections.
The Muslim Women's Network UK have called for a public inquiry into 'smear campaigns' against women such as Fozia Parveen, who claims she was blocked from becoming a councillor in Birmingham in 2008.
Ms Parveen said: "At the time, I was aware of a smear campaign against me - they said that I was having an affair with one of the existing councillors, I was quite taken aback."
Shaista Gohir, chair of the Muslim Women's Network UK
Shaista Gohir, chair of MWNUK, claimed the 'systematic misogyny' infected the whole of the Labour party, including high-ranking officials who were aware of the situation and guilty through inaction.
She said: "As this is an open secret and has been going on for decades, we can only assume that the Labour party has been complicit at the highest levels.
"How do men who do not want Muslim women to be empowered or have a voice remain in power unless the Labour party allows it?
"It appears that over decades senior Labour politicians have deliberately turned a blind eye to the treatment of Muslim women because votes have been more important to them than women’s rights.
Birmingham City Council, where Fozia Parveen said she was blocked from becoming councilor in 2008
"Able, knowledgeable and independent-minded Muslim women have been undermined, sabotaged and blocked from becoming councillors.”
She added that many candidate selections were agreed behind closed doors or organised in closed block voting systems, called 'biradari'.
She said: "These men have a cultural mindset, which they've brought from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh.
"They operate a biradari male kinship system and they've brought the system here. What I call an old boys' network.
"They don't like women to be heard, to be empowered, because we will then challenge the status quo, challenge misogyny."
BBC Council candidate Fozia Parveen said her campaign was attacked by a 'smear campaign'
Labour rejected the allegations, with a spokesman pointing towards the party's 'positive action procedures' such as all-women shortlists and a gender-conscious selection process.
He added: "We have the best record of any party in selecting women and black ethnic and minority ethnic candidates, and we will continue to do all that we can to make sure candidates are representative of the communities they seek to represent.
"The Labour party has a fair, democratic and robust procedure for selecting council candidates. Local Labour party members select their local candidates within the party’s rules and guidelines. Those wishing to become Labour councillors are interviewed by an independent assessment team and unsuccessful candidates have a right of appeal to the regional party board."