British candidate flayed for targeting Muslim voters
May 4, 2007 - 11:11:06 AM

London, May 4 - A letter-leaflet in English and Gujarati to voters by a Muslim candidate in Gloucester stirred up a controversy during the elections to local bodies in England, Scotland and Wales.

Shabbir Ahmed Bham, a Liberal Democrat leader, has come under fire for distributing leaflets throughout his prospective ward in the elections Thursday. The leaflet - in letter-like form - is printed in both English and Gujarati and begins by saying, 'Dear Muslim brothers and sisters in the community'.

The letter goes on to say that Muslims should 'think of your children and your community' and should vote for Bham by looking to their 'conscience'.

Criticising the letter-leaflet, Labour MP for Gloucester Parmjit Dhanda said it sent out a divisive message to the voters.

He said: 'I received one of these letters in the post...While the elections are important I think all parties need to remember the wonderful thing about this city is that all communities and religions have worked together as one.

'All parties have a responsibility not to create divisions - we are all stronger together. I'm sure everyone will take this on board.'

He said he had received three complaints about the direct campaigning in the Barton and Tredworth ward of Gloucester.

Bham, however, insisted he had done nothing wrong. He told the local media: 'I have not heard of any complaints and if Mr. Dhanda has a problem why has he not contacted me instead of the media?'

Harjit Gill, Labour city councillor in Barton and Tredworth, said he was also in favour of preventing divisions in the community.

'I am a man for all the community and am working to serve everybody. That is what is important.

'If some people want to campaign in this way and give out wrong information it is a real shame,' Gill remarked.

However, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Jeremy Hilton, said it was one of a number of leaflets that have been going out across the community. 'When campaigning, everybody targets certain sections of the community. It is very common.'

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