Newcastle's first Muslim Lord Mayor quits the Labour Party over alleged Islamophobia

The first Muslim Lord Mayor of Newcastle has quit the Labour Party.
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Newcastle's first Muslim Lord Mayor has resigned from the Labour Party over alleged institutional Islamophobia.

Councillor Habib Rahman, of the Elswick ward, was Lord Mayor from 2021 to 2022 and claims that he has been subjected to racial abuse from within the party and that his requests for support were "ignored".

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Cllr Rahman has been a vocal campaigner for years against discrimination in Newcastle after his father, Azizur, was killed in a racial attack in 1977.

He announced his decision in a statement on Friday morning (January 26), stating that he has experienced decades of victimisation and bullying.

Cllr Rahman, who has been a member of the Labour Party since 2008 and was first elected in 2010, stated that this had come from a sitting Labour councillor and from Newcastle City Council's former Deputy Leader, Joyce McCarty.

Councillor Habib Rahman during his time at the Lord Mayor of Newcastle. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.Councillor Habib Rahman during his time at the Lord Mayor of Newcastle. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Councillor Habib Rahman during his time at the Lord Mayor of Newcastle. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

McCarty was given a year-long suspension in 2022 from the Labour Party after an internal investigation found her guilty of Islamophobia.

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It followed a claims of a "Muslim plot" against ex-council leader Nick Forbes.

Cllr Rahman also cited the stance of Sir Keir Starmer, Labour leader, on the war in Gaza as a contributing factor behind his decision to quit the party.

He said: "I have spent my life campaigning for equality and fighting against all forms of victimisation, abuse, and harassment. I am a proud, lifelong anti-racist campaigner.

"For almost two years, I have been fighting for justice and against racism within the Labour Party, its Regional Office, and Newcastle Labour Group expecting to be fully supported.

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"Instead, the party has put up barriers and has not provided me with any support as a victim of racism nor has it taken any steps to address the culture of institutional racism.

"Instead, the national party seems to be telling all black and Muslim voters that their votes do not matter and that it sides with perpetrators of racism.

"This has been made worse by party Leader Sir Keir Starmer's immoral and unethical u-turn on the recognition of the state of Palestine together with his failure to call for an immediate ceasefire and his unquestioning support for the Israeli Government carrying out genocide in their war on Gaza.

"I am resigning from the Labour Party because of the racism I have faced and Sir Keir Starmer’s support for the war on the Palestinian people in Gaza.

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"I will continue to serve the residents of Elswick Ward as an independent Councillor until the all-out elections planned to take place in 2026."

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The Labour Group in Newcastle expressed its sadness over Cllr Rahman's decision and thanked him for his work for the Party over the years.

A Newcastle Labour Group spokesperson commented: “As a Labour group we are incredibly sad to hear of Councillor Habib Rahman’s decision today.

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"We would like to thank him for all he has done for his constituents in Elswick and the city of Newcastle at large.

“The Labour Party is an anti-racist party, committed to combating and campaigning against all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia.”