MPs too scared of Muslim voters to challenge forced marriage, claims Cryer

Ann CryerPoliticians are too scared to speak out against forced marriage in case they lose valuable Muslim votes, according to a veteran Labour MP.

Ann Cryer said politicians in areas with high Muslim populations, many of which are Labour heartlands, should be at the forefront of the campaign to stop young couples being made to wed against their will by their families. Mrs Cryer said:

“There still is a nervousness to talk about this, especially those MPs in constituencies affected by these issues.They should be fighting on the front line, but they are the ones keeping quiet on the issue because they don’t want to lose votes.

“Some of the Muslim leaders in my area are doing their communities a disservice and trying to keep them in the backwoods. They don’t seem to have any understanding about the importance of having integration and cohesion, or to promote women to leadership roles in the community.”

However Mrs Cryer’s claims have been dismissed by Khalid Mahmood, the Muslim Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr. He claimed that MPs would not be so easily swayed by the perceived opinions of their constituents, and pointed out that many politicians supported the war in Iraq despite opposition from Muslim voters.

Mr Mahmood said: “In terms of being scared, I think that’s complete nonsense. Most MPs will speak their minds because that’s what they’re there for and most of them are strong enough characters. People do things because they believe in them, not because of this cynical reason. If that was the case, MPs would have stood up against the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.”

He added: “I’ve been adamantly against forced marriage and people have supported me in that. We’ve also got a rigid system with the embassy in Islamabad now and although it is an issue, it’s not an epidemic as Ann sometimes makes it out to be.”

Daily Telegraph, 2 September 2008