On 19 June 2017, a rightwing extremist killed Makram Ali outside Finsbury Park Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan. It has been exactly four years since that terrorist incident. It could have happened outside my local mosque in Tottenham where we had been subjected to a number of Islamophobic incidents. We received hate mail and white powder in an envelope designed to cause alarm and fear. An individual came inside the mosque premises declaring “kill all Muslims” and another person went to the hall upstairs burning a copy of the Qur’an.
While my mosque was subjected to fairly low levels of hate, Makram Ali was not so lucky. Nor were the worshippers in the Christchurch mosque in New Zealand. And the recent murders of four members of the same family in Ontaro, Canada. All of these islamophobic incidents did not happen in a vacuum. Hatred against Muslims or Islamophobia has been institutionalised in the western media. It has become an acceptable form of racism. Muslims are also easy targets for politicians across the world from Emanuel Macron to Narendra Modi.
There are condemnations and statements denouncing such terrorist acts after they happen. However, this is rarely followed up with concrete action. In the UK, we need Islamophobia to be recognised as a specific form of hate in legislation. The All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims recently proposed a new definition of Islamophobia as a form of racism. It is high time that this is recognised in law. Our politicians need to step up and act rather than put out empty words of solidarity for their social media followers.
Euro 2020 has got off to an explosive start with events off the pitch grabbing all the headlines. This tournament will probably be remembered for Ronaldo’s part in wiping US$4billion off Coca-cola’s share value with a five-second move at a press conference. In this piece, I look at three ‘off the pitch’ events that have generated much discussion on social media.
England’s taking the knee
Before the tournament, England’s manager, Gareth Southgate and the players decided that they would take the knee before each match in solidarity with the ‘black lives matter’ movement. This was met with boos from some English fans who have associated the gesture of taking the knee with Marxism and a movement that wants to defund the police.
This is not true.
Gareth Southgate has been absolutely marvellous in sticking with the decision to take the knee. His open letter titled ‘Dear England‘ will go down in history as a key moment in the struggle against racism in England. Although the Home Secretary, Priti Patel gave her backing to the boo boys, England players have quite rightly stood firm and clarified that the gesture has nothing to do with Marxism or wanting to get rid of the police. It is simply about making a stand against racism. It did not start in 2015 as has been suggested. Dr Martin Luther King also took the knee during his fight against racism in the US.
Ronaldo’s stand against Coca-cola
At a press conference, Ronaldo moved two bottles of Coca-cola that were in front of him and held up a bottle of water declaring, “drink water”. Ronaldo is well known for his healthy lifestyle. Coca-cola has absolutely no nutritional value. It is a sugary drink that is bad for health. Ronaldo has hundreds of millions of followers on social media. He is a global icon. His one five-second action was enough to wipe US$4 billion off Coca-cola’s share value.
Ronaldo’s action was not pre-planned. He simply acted instinctively. It does, however raise a serious question about product placement and sponsorship of sporting tournaments by companies that pose health risks such as obesity, diabetes and so on. Advertising of cigarettes at sporting events has been banned for quite sometime. There is clearly a precedent. It is high time that the likes of UEFA, FIFA and the English FA have a rethink about which companies should be allowed to sponsor football tournaments. Afterall, companies such as Coca-cola, Pepsi, McDonald’s and Burger King sell products that are a complete antithesis of an active lifestyle that sports promote.
Paul Pogba’s removal of a beer bottle
After Ronaldo, it was the turn of another global footballing icon, Paul Pogba to remove a beer bottle that was placed in front of him. The two events are not linked. Pogba was giving a press conference after his man of the match performance for France against Germany. He removed a bottle of Heineken that was in front him and placed it under the table.
Paul Pogba is a practising Muslim and it is against his religion to drink alcohol. No doubt he felt uncomfortable with a beer bottle in front of him which led to his instinctive action. He faced a backlash from racists on social media. That is beside the point. Surely, sporting bodies should also be looking at sponsorship by alcohol and betting companies that can be very damaging to an individual. Sports should be about promoting a healthy and positive lifestyle. There are enough companies around the world whose values align with sports without the need for kowtowing to fast food, fizzy drinks, gambling and alcohol.
On 15 June 2021, I introduced the Noel Park Major Works Scrutiny Report to Cabinet. I have set out below what I presented to the Cabinet with the simple message that the Scrutiny Report should be adopted in full.
I will be presenting the Scrutiny Report into the Noel Park Major Works Programme which was authored by Cllr Ruth Gordon in her then capacity as the chair of the Housing and Regen Scrutiny Panel. She is now in the Cabinet.
Before proceeding any further, I want to state that I have checked and there aren’t any conflicts in my presenting this Scrutiny Report. Yes, I used to live in Noel Park, my parents still live there and I am a ward Councillor.
I have had direct engagement with Noel Park leaseholders affected by this Scrutiny Report on what I am about to present, which is perfectly in line with the new cabinet’s approach to co-design and co-production.
I am one for using plain English. In my case, it means that I have spoken directly with the Noel Park Leaseholders and what I am about to say reflects their views as well.
There are three broad points I will make.
First, we are grateful to the Cabinet for accepting the overwhelming majority of the 20 recommendations in the Scrutiny Report.
Secondly, we are a little surprised and disappointed that you are rejecting recommendations 1 and 20 and that you are only partially accepting recommendation 12. Afterall, the Scrutiny Report was authored by Cllr Gordon, one of the Cabinet members.
For the reasons that I will explain, we would like you to adopt all of the recommendation without any exception not least because Cllr Ahmet, leader of the Council said, in response to a question from Sarah Klymkiw (one of the leaseholders) at last week’s O&S Meeting that she stands by the Scrutiny Report.
Finally, there are recommendations that you are supposedly accepting, but the effect of the Cabinet response is that the scope of the recommendation has been altered so fundamentally that it reads like a rejection or that the scope has been watered down so much that it does not give effect to what was intended in the Scrutiny Report. Again, I will elaborate shortly.
Turning now to the recommendations that the Cabinet are rejecting or partially agreeing
Recommendation 1 is about an independent investigation into why responses to leaseholder questions after receiving the S.20 notice in September 2020 were not provided in full or in good time.
Cabinet response for rejecting this is not acceptable for the following reasons:
Response said that the leaseholders are not legally entitled to seek further particulars of the works and cost. We should not be operating to what is the statutory minimum. If the new cabinet is serious about co-design and co-production, then we need to be as transparent as possible and provide as much information as possible to residents.
The suggestion that there was a high volume of complex questions and that leaseholders organised collectively to ask the same questions should not be material. The high volume and complexity of the questions demonstrates how poor communication and consultation had been prior to the Section 20 notice. Leaseholders share common concerns and may have very similar observations that they wish to raise.
Freedom of Information rules must not be used, or rather misused, to ignore observations simply because some leaseholders have helped each other collectively.
We are told that a ‘lessons learnt’ session had taken place – In the interests of transparency, it Is essential that any reports resulting from this ‘lessons learned’ session should be made publicly available.
Recommendation 12 is about the cost of removal of asbestos from the pods should be borne by the freeholder (Council). This was only partially agreed.
Leaseholders believe there have been clear failings in the way that Homes for Haringey has managed the issue of asbestos across the estate. Had the works been done when they should have been done, asbestos could have been removed from the pods more cheaply off-site, something that it is no longer safe to do. Residents have been living in unsafe homes for years now due to Homes for Haringey inaction. We believe that this recommendation should be implemented in full, with all costs relating to asbestos removal being borne by the freeholder, for all asbestos throughout the property.
Finally, recommendation 20 is about Contracts and Oversight Procurement Committee – we will simply refer you back to the original Scrutiny Review as to why this is an important recommendation, and it should be implemented in full.
We will now turn to recommendations that the Cabinet have accepted but altered the scoped fundamentally
Recommendation 7 is about guaranteeing the cladding outside the new pods. The Scrutiny Report sought an assurance that leaseholders will not be held financially liable if they need to be removed or replaced at any point in the future. Cabinet response limits the guarantee to 12 years.
In the event that cladding needs to be removed or replaced after the 12-year guarantee has expired, the freeholder must still be prepared to bear any costs for defects related to issues with the design or build, regardless of whether those issues were known at the time or are only identified in the future.
Recommendation 9 states “That it is established how estimates for pod replacement and other works have escalated over the time-period between purchases of the properties and the S20 notices in September 2020.”
The Cabinet response is that the cost escalation is due to the wider construction industry cost inflation. Leaseholders do not agree that the extent of the cost inflation has been justified nor that the increase in the scope of the works in the intervening period has been justified. Leaseholders should not have to pay higher costs because the works were not done when they should have been done, nor should they have to pay for works that have become necessary due to the properties being neglected by Homes for Haringey. Both Councillors and Officers have repeatedly stated that the works should have been done years ago.
Recommendation 10 is in relation to resale packs. It recommended that “That a review is undertaken to establish whether resale packs supplied to leaseholders when purchasing their properties were complete and correct.”
Leaseholders support this review but note that there is no suggestion as to how any cases of inaccurate or inconsistent resale packs will be remedied.
Furthermore, the cabinet response says that “HfH have commenced an internal review of Noel Park resale packs to ensure accuracy and consistency going forward.” This is very different from the Scrutiny recommendation which stated that there should be a review of past resale packs.
Recommendation 17: “That the formal roundtable talks should be minuted and outcomes jointly agreed between the parties.”
The Cabinet response is that this has been agreed but we note that we no minutes or action points have been made available from the leaseholder consultation sessions. This must be done for the roundtable talks to be meaningful.
It happened after decades of neglect and prejudice against social housing tenants. I grew up in Council housing. It was people like me – 72 beautiful souls – who perished in the Grenfell fire four years ago.
Grenfell Tower was a reminder that we need to change course and put social housing on the agenda again. Unfortunately, the Tory government is not listening.
We will never forget Grenfell. However, we continue to wait for justice for the victims of Grenfell. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Last night’s @haringeycouncil’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting was the first in-person meeting for me and my colleagues after 14 months. We used a hybrid model with officers and co-opted members joining virtually. The next meeting of the committee is on 6 July 2021.
Thanks to residents who sent in questions to be put to the Leader of @haringeycouncil last night. This was an example of our democracy in action with direct resident input in the ‘People’s Overview and Scrutiny’. As I announced last night, this is only the start.
The Overview & Scrutiny Committee will undertake a scrutiny review of knife and gun crime and serious youth violence. We’ll carry out the biggest engagement of residents as this is an issue that affects everyone. Please watch the space and look out for announcements.
On Sunday 6 June 2021, a terrorist drove into and murdered four members of the same family in Ontario, Canada because they were Muslim. The youngest member of the family, nine-year old boy is the sole survivor who is in hospital in a critical condition. I am writing about it two days after this horrific incident, because it has not featured in the mainstream media much. I asked on my WhatsApp groups with Labour Party comrades if they had heard about it. The answer was overwhelmingly no!
Had the attacker been a Muslim, the story would have been plastered all over mainstream media. There would have been coverage, discussions and demands for apology from the Muslim community on the hour every hour for days. This is the double standard we see in the Western media.
Mainstream media are quick to characterise any white terrorists as lone gunmen or suffering from mental health issues. Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau has, however called out the islamophobic terrorist attack for what it is. He did not mince his words when he posted the following on social media:
“I’m horrified by the news from London, Ontario. To the loved ones of those who were terrorized by yesterday’s act of hatred, we are here for you. We are also here for the child who remains in hospital – our hearts go out to you, and you will be in our thoughts as you recover.
To the Muslim community in London and to Muslims across the country, know that we stand with you. Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable – and it must stop.”
Given the seriousness of the incident, can the lack of coverage be put down to the normalisation of violence against Muslims? In other words, Muslim lives do not really matter, because Islamophobia has become so rampant across the globe.
I fully support Gareth Southgate and his statement on why England will take the knee at the #EURO2020 in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It’s so funny that it has triggered the rightwing voices such as Laurence Fox and Nigel Farage.
Please show your love for Southgate and the boys on Twitter and on other social media. You may retweet my tweet which has a little clip of Southgate explaining his reasons:
I have recently taken over as the chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which has an important function to investigate and scrutinise the decisions and policies of the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Members.
I am inviting Haringey residents to be involved in this process. In my role as the chair, I am opening it up so that it becomes ‘People’s Overview and Scrutiny’.
The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee is on Tuesday 8 June at 7pm which you can watch online on the Council’s website (www.haringey.gov.uk/local-democracy). The new leader of the Council, Cllr Peray Ahmet will appear before the Committee to answer questions. I am inviting you to submit your questions to me to put to the Leader of the Council.
You can email me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can text me your questions to 07976973851.
Please submit your questions by midnight on Monday 7 June.
In future meetings, you can bring a deputation to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee about an issue that you are concerned about. In the coming months, the Committee will carry out a detailed Scrutiny review into increasing knife and gun crime in which I will invite you to provide your input.
Please watch the space. I will share information on my blog: khaledmoyeed.blog and on Twitter. You can follow me on Twitter. My twitter handle is @kmamoyeed.