Pakistani community leader faces wrath of Islamophobic media
By: Murtaza Ali Shah
LONDON: Right-wing Islamophobic media in Britain has put a key Pakistani community leader under sustained attack, bringing into question Sharif brothers and Pakistan Muslim League-N, as part of the wider agenda to oust Britain’s first female Muslim cabinet Minister and Conservative Chairman, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi.
Abid Hussain – commonly known as Barrister Abid – has been in the eye of the storm since the media campaign against Baroness Warsi started almost two weeks ago but after having failed to find anything egregious on Sayeeda Warsi, it’s Abid Hussain who is being targeted to beat Warsi in an unprecedented malicious and frantic campaign.
Right-wing newspapers have published stories exaggerating links of Abid Hussain with Baroness Warsi, who happen to be relatives, but its Abid Hussain’s strong connections with Pakistani politicians and the British Muslim youth groups which is also being scrutinized, to portray the both as radical fundamentalist Muslims. He has been instrumental in organizing many community gatherings for Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif but has also worked closely with Pakistan High Commission.
Questions have been asked about Mirpur-origin Abid Hussain’s meeting with Shahbaz Sharif, Azad Kashmir leaders, Lord Nazir and Pakistan People’s Party ministers but the right-wing press is doing everything it can to prove that Hussain has been associated with Islamic group Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT), which operates in Britain legitimately but was banned in Pakistan by Pervez Musharraf.
It has been alleged that Hussain was part of the national executive body of HT. But former and current leaders of the HT have told The News that Abid Hussain has never been part of the group, has never been a member and didn’t support the group’s aims and objectives.
One such former member of the national executive body of HT, Hassan Mujtaba categorically confirmed that though Abid attended some events organized by HT, as did people from many parties, he never became a member.
Nadeem Baksh, an Alumni of the London School of Economics (LSE) and an Associate Principal at the Institute of Community Cohesion (iCoCo), who has shared many platforms with Abid, confirmed that Abid since the early 1990s has been at the forefront of grassroots community as well as the highest echelons of political discourse both in the UK and Pakistan.
Abid Hussain, in Nadeem’s opinion, continues to be one of the most valuable assets British Muslims have in the UK to building future good relations within and between Britain and Pakistanis here and abroad.
Nadeem said: “Hussain is amongst the most conscientious, intelligent, sincere, talented and unselfish people I know. He has been instrumental in my work around the country helping to foster better community cohesion and relations.”
Speaking to The News on condition of anonymity, a senior current HT leader said that Abid Hussain has never been a member of the party and had not done anything for the party. “We have always said that the Western establishment will find one thing or another to beat Muslims to tell them they are second class and subordinate. This is what’s happening with Warsi and Hussain.”
The News is aware that Abid Hussain has been at the forefront of combating radicalism and extremism from the British Muslim youth. While campaigning in the Pakistani community to urge the community participation for the voting process during the general election 6 years ago, he was threatened with violence by members of a defunct Islamist group in East London.
Last month he chaired the UK’s largest Muslim conference in Birmingham attended by leading parliamentarians including Labour politician and former cabinet minister Liam Burn MP and the government’s Community Cohesion Minister Andrew Stunnell MP in which he promoted peaceful integration and coexistence of Muslims to more than 30,000 delegates that attended.
Labour Party is at the forefront of attacks on Warsi and Hussain but The News can reveal that Hussain has campaigned for David Miliband and many other Labour politicians including Jack Straw MP, Ed Miliband MP, Stella Creasy MP, Clive Betts MP, Richard Cabourne, Dennis McShane MP, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, Gerald Kaufmann MP, Liam Burn MP, Simon Danzuk MP, Nick Gerrard, John Cryer MP, Lord Qurban, Andrew Stunnell MP and the First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond MP, Claire Ward, Andrew Griffis MP, Richard Harrington MP, along with numerous leaders of councils, councilors, mayors and leading police officers. He has used his campaigning skills to encourage the participation of Muslims in Britain’s political process.
Right-wing papers have called Pakistani journalists and community figures offering them huge sums of money for negative stories on Hussain, forgetting that he has done an enormous amount of work at the grassroots levels in Pakistani communities in Britain, which includes charitable work, community cohesion drives, campaigning for local facilities but most importantly assisting the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to help with difficult issues affecting British nationals in Pakistan and vice versa.
This correspondent is aware that Abid has personally been involved in the repatriation of a young woman forced into marriage from the UK with her family, helped solve murder cases of British citizens in Pakistan, procured the safe return to UK of a child who was abducted, and helped in numerous land mafia cases.