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UK political system ‘completely broken,' parties ‘chose to stand' against public on Gaza: Muslim lawyer running for office

Mohammed Akunjee aims to challenge Labour's Rushanara Ali for London constituency Parliament seat

12:37 - 27/02/2024 Tuesday
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File photo
File photo

The stance of parties in the UK in support of Israel's war on Gaza shows they are simply not listening to the public and the current political system is “completely broken,” according to a British Muslim lawyer who intends to contest an upcoming London election.

Mohammed Akunjee, a 46-year-old lawyer specializing in crime and terrorism-related matters, has been vocal in his criticism of Britain's support to Israel, calling out both the Conservative government and the “so-called” Labour opposition.

Both parties have been facing strong public backlash, with regular massive protests drawing thousands across the country, calling for an immediate cease-fire and end to the UK's arms sales to Israel.

Last month, Akunjee announced his intention to run for Parliament as an independent candidate, saying he is ready to go “head-to-head” with Labour's Rushanara Ali in the London constituency of Bethnal Green and Stepney.

In an interview with Anadolu, he emphasized that the British public has been clear in its demand for an end to Israel's attacks on Gaza, which have killed nearly 30,000 Palestinians since Oct. 7, laid waste to large swaths of the besieged enclave, displaced millions and left them facing famine and starvation.

Israel also stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which passed an interim ruling in January with six provisional orders and said there is plausible risk of genocide being committed in Gaza.

“After October 7 and before this current phase, before the ICJ ruling, 75% of the British public was in favor of a cease-fire,” said Akunjee.

“Now, we're coming up to an election year. Politically, that should be a very strong message to any political party … but both our political parties, the government and the so-called opposition, they both chose to stand against the view of the public.”

As for Ali, he said she previously presented herself as a supporter of the Palestinian cause, but then decided to abstain in a November vote for a cease-fire, along with a majority of Labour MPs.

“That was seen as a betrayal by the community,” said Akunjee.

“This is despite a number of demonstrations in her own borough, where the constituents were simply asking her to speak out. That didn't happen.”

Labour and its leader Keir Starmer seemed to have felt the growing pressure, changing tack and calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Parliament last week.

Akunjee, however, pointed out that Starmer “has conducted many U-turns from his stated position before on various matters,” particularly the Palestine issue.

“There is a deep problem with the Labour Party as it presents now compared to what it has been in the past, and that's been vocalized by the public on many occasions,” he added.


- ‘We have not been listened to for a long time'

When it comes to Gaza, the actions of British political parties have proven to the people that “they weren't willing to stand up and support the principle of international law and … protecting civilian life,” Akunjee reiterated.

All they had to do was “to ask for the rule of law and international law to be applied,” he said.

“So, for the electorate, that is a clear message that both our political parties simply aren't listening to them,” said the lawyer.

“That's a deep problem … We haven't been listened to for a long time, and now on some fundamental issues where there's real human suffering … that's how much we're not being listened to.”

Akunjee's message to potential voters is that the current political system is “completely broken” and he will “give them a direct connection with Parliament.”

“Their views will be represented directly … and not watered down by a political party putting different interests over their interests,” he said.

“Our message is that the political system has been shown to be completely broken, and that affects our democracy.”

As for the Palestinian cause, Akunjee said he will “vocalize the issue” in Parliament, stressing that it is a “crucial issue for the world.”

“Often people will say that, ‘Oh, Palestine is far away.' But it isn't far away. It's here, it's our tax money that's being spent to support something that's destroying civilians,” he said.

“That money that this country is willing to spend … supporting other military conflicts is money that we're taking away from our constituents who are in real need of education, housing and dealing with the cost of living crisis that we have now.”

#Bethnal Green and Bow
#Conservative Party
#Gaza
#Israel
#Labour Party
#London
#Mohammed Akunjee
#Palestine
#UK
2 months ago