• Thursday, July 25, 2024

Diaspora

Tan Dhesi worried over calls for block voting based on faith

Dhesi appealed last month for residents not to be “duped” by campaigners “going to people’s houses and asking one faith community in particular to vote in a block”.

Tan Dhesi

By: Nick Clark

AN INDEPENDENT candidate standing to be Slough’s next MP has denied accusations that he is trying to ‘toxify’ Slough by asking Muslims to vote in a block.

Labour’s Tan Dhesi, who is the MP for Slough, appealed last month for residents not to be “duped” by campaigners “going to people’s houses and asking one faith community in particular to vote in a block”.

He highlighted the campaign by independent candidate Azhar Chohan, who has been endorsed by a group called Muslim Vote.

Dhesi said: “Please don’t be duped by those trying to toxify the town and divide our multifaith diverse community.”

But Chohan said he is not “trying to divide anyone” and said his campaign is supported by people of all backgrounds, including Sikhs and Christians.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “I’m not trying to divide anyone. All the issues I talk about don’t only affect Muslims. They affect anyone – my faith is humanity.”

In a statement on May 25, Dhesi highlighted a social media post by Muslim Vote calling for a vote for Chohan. The group encourages votes for candidates who have supported Palestinians and backed a ceasefire in Israel’s war in Gaza.

Chohan was previously a caseworker for Slough’s Labour MPs, including Dhesi. But he said he quit in November last year when Dhesi abstained on a vote calling for a ceasefire in parliament.

Chohan defended the right of Muslims to vote on issues that matter to them. But he argued the issue of Palestine mattered to more people than Muslims.

And he said he also wanted to speak up on other major issues affecting Slough such as housing, knife crime and the NHS.

He said as many as 400 people attended his campaign launch meeting on May 26, making him “the only person who can challenge” Dhesi.

In response, Dhesi pointed out that Chohan had spent several years as a member of the Labour party that he now criticises. And in his statement last month, he said he had spoken up for Muslims and against Islamophobia in parliament.

Chohan will compete against anothers hoping to challenge the main parties, including Adnan Shabbir of the Workers Party of Britain, whose candidates also emphasise support for Palestine.

The Liberal Democrat candidate, Chelsea Whyte, says her party is the only one “that has been campaigning for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza since October 2023”.

(Local Democracy Reporting Service)

 

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