Mike Gapes and Muslims- The Truth

Contrary to the impression being given by the lies and smears being put out by some extremist leaflets and websites, Mike Gapes is a good friend of Muslims. 

Mike Gapes has helped tens of thousands of his constituents of all faiths on  issues including health, housing, school places, other local matters, immigration and visit visas. 

 

He is an officer of  the Parliamentary Friends of Islam group and a signatory of Early Day Motion 1079  which  opposes the increased demonisation of Muslims in sections of the media, welcomes the participation and contribution of Muslims in British society, including in politics and states that the full participation of all communities in the forthcoming general election is in the interests of democracy.

 

As an active Member of Parliament with an interest in foreign policy  Mike Gapes visited many countries and  met visiting political leaders including from Arab and Muslim countries.  Countries Mike has visited include Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Bangla Desh , Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia,  Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Sierra Leone, Kosovo and Bosnia. Mike has also met Muslim leaders from Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and South Africa.

 

Mike Gapes has always worked for a two state solution to the Israel–Palestine conflict– a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and  a secure internationally recognised Israel within  agreed borders based on an Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967.

Mike Gapes is a Member of  the  All Party Palestine Parliamentary Group; one of the founders of the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East: and a member of the Labour Friends of Israel.   The Foreign Affairs Committee Chaired by Mike Gapes published major reports on the Middle East in 2007 and 2009.  The Committee also visited Palestine and Israel in February 2010. Mike publicly criticised continuing Israeli settlement growth, and said Israel’s military action in Gaza in December 2008/January 2009 was disproportionate. He welcomed establishment of the inquiry into the conflict under Judge Goldstone. He  welcomed the British  Government’s decision to revoke licences for arms exports to Israel.  Mike said  “It is unacceptable that Israel continues to deny unrestricted access for humanitarian assistance to Gaza.”  Mike welcomed  the public call by the British Government and the new US Administration for a freeze on all Israeli settlement activity. He said  the EU should make any ‘upgrade’ of its relations with Israel conditional on Israel halting practices which are prejudicial to the achievement of a two-state solution..   Mike Gapes said  that the  UK Government and the Quartet should urgently consider engaging with moderate elements within Hamas as a way to move towards a negotiated two state solution..  His Committee  welcomed  the
Government’s decision  to open contacts with the political wing
of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Foreign Affairs Committee chaired by Mike Gapes publishes an Annual report on Human Rights around the world. In its 2009 report   the committee commented on human rights issues in many countries including Somalia and Sudan. It drew attention to significant violence arising from long-standing ethnic tensions between  Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese in  Xinjiang and called for restraint by the Chinese government. The Committee also expressed concern at substantial evidence of major human rights abuses in the predominantly Muslim republics of the Russian Federation in the North Caucasus.

The Committee commented on widespread human rights abuses in Pakistan  where women and girls continue to be subjected to violence and discrimination. It praised  the work of the Forced Marriages and Child Abduction Unit at the British High Commission in Islamabad.  Mike Gapes visited Pakistan and Afghanistan in April 2009 and his separate report  published in August was highly critical of the corrupt Karzai government.

The Committee  criticised US policy on rendition and torture and called for closure of GuantanamoBay. It called on our Government to emphasise to its foreign counterparts that torture is unacceptable.  It expressed concerns about the transfer of detainees captured by UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, to US, Iraqi and Afghan control.

Mike Gapes visited Iran with his Committee in 2007 and published a major report in 2008. This concluded that, should Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, it is very likely to lead to other states in the Middle East developing their own weapon programmes. This domino effect would heighten regional tensions and seriously weaken the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It would also seriously undermine any prospect of moves to a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East. However  a military strike would be unlikely to succeed and could provoke an extremely violent backlash across the region. We recommend that the Government urges Washington to consider offering a credible security guarantee to Iran if the Iranian Government in turn will offer an equally credible and verifiable guarantee that it will not enter into a nuclear weapons programme and improves its cooperation with the international community in other areas.”   In its 2009 Human Rights report the Committee said “the events of June and July 2009 in Iran have revealed the extent of the desire amongst millions of Iranians for a fairer electoral process, as well as for greater personal freedoms and a normalisation of relations between Iran and the wider world, and that those events have also demonstrated the capacity of the present Iranian regime to respond with ruthless force in suppressing expressions of dissent… Iran’s overall human rights record remains appalling. We recommend that the Government continues to act with firmness, in conjunction with its European partners and the wider international community, in pressing for the Iranian regime to respect the human rights obligations it has entered into, and in actively encouraging Iran to adopt a more civilised approach to the rights of its own citizens.“

Mike Gapes has visited Iraq three times.  As  a member of Labour Friends of Iraq he keeps closely in touch with visiting MPs and others from Iraq. Iraq has now had two free and fair democratic elections. With the departure of most British troops from southern Iraq, and the withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi towns and cities, the responsibility for creating security, which is an essential precondition of human rights, has passed decisively to the Iraqi government, but grave human rights concerns remain in a country  making a difficult transition  including the plight of Iraqi refugees, both within Iraq and beyond its borders, and the discrimination suffered by women, contrary to the Iraqi constitution.

Human rights continue to be violated on a massive scale in Saudi Arabia. The fact that Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally of the UK should not lead to an official policy of turning a blind eye to its human rights failings specifically in relation to women’s rights.

Contrary to the impression being given by the lies and smears being put out by some extremist leaflets and websites, Mike Gapes is a good friend of Muslims.  As he himself says “I am proud to have represented and worked for our vibrant and diverse community in Parliament. I hope you will give me your continuing support”.

 

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