Muslim vote ‘appears to have made a difference’

A Muslim woman leaves a polling station set up at the Muslim community centre in Ilford, east London, on Thursdy, as Britain holds a general election. (AFP)
Updated 10 June 2017
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Muslim vote ‘appears to have made a difference’

LONDON: Votes by the Muslim community appear to have made a difference in the UK election, a community group has said, noting swings toward the Labour Party in several key areas.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) earlier identified 39 constituencies where votes by the Muslim community may have a high or medium impact.
While members of the council are keen to point out that UK Muslims do not constitute one single group and do not vote as one, they say the community has historically favored the opposition Labour Party.
All 16 constituencies where the influence of Muslim communities was found by the MCB to be “high” are now Labour seats. Five were gained from the Conservatives in Thursday’s election, while Labour strengthened its lead in others.
There were also significant swings toward the Labour Party in many of the 23 constituencies where the MCB determined the impact of Muslim voters as being “medium.”
While Theresa May’s Conservative Party remains the largest party in Parliament following Thursday’s national election in the UK, it lost its majority, with opposition Labour making significant gains.
Harun Khan, secretary general of the MCB, said: “There is no block Muslim vote, nor can we know how Muslims have voted. What we can see, however, is Muslim and (black and minority ethnic) communities, in particular the young, enthused and involved in the political process across the country. In the 39 constituencies where Muslim communities could have had an impact, it appears they have done so.”
He continued: “I would also like to acknowledge and welcome the fact that this election has returned a record number of women. I congratulate them and the Muslims who have retained or joined the House of Commons for the first time. And I congratulate too Parliament’s first Sikh woman and turban-wearing Sikh. All of these are important developments and demonstrates that the British people are ready to elect a diverse range of people who reflect our multicultural society.”
Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the MCB, said before the election that he had expected a higher turnout among Muslim voters.
“This election has invigorated many Muslim communities — many want to get involved, many want to participate, many want to canvass and support one of the parties,” he told Arab News.
“I would not be surprised if the turnout from the communities in this election is higher than it has been previously.”


US offers $1m reward to locate journalist missing in Syria

Updated 1 min 3 sec ago
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US offers $1m reward to locate journalist missing in Syria

Washington: The United States is offering a reward of $1 million for information about Austin Tice, an American journalist missing in Syria since 2012.
The FBI announced the reward this week, without any explanation on the timing.
“The timing of this reward is unrelated to any specific event,” an FBI spokeswoman said.
Tice, 36, is believed to the only American journalist currently held in Syria, one of the most dangerous countries for the news media in recent years.
A freelance journalist working for McClatchy News, the Washington Post, CBS, AFP and other news organizations, Tice was abducted in August 2012 near Damascus.
Tice’s family has launched several appeals for information about his whereabouts, saying they believe he is still alive.
In 2016, a #FreeAustinTice banner was attached to the facade of the Newseum, a museum focused on news media and located on the street linking the US Capitol and the White House.
An FBI statement on its website said it would offer the reward “for information leading directly to the safe location, recovery, and return” of Tice.
The agency created an email address [email protected] and said anyone with information could also use the website tips.fbi.gov or contact any US consulate.