Birmingham Ex-Lord Mayor slammed for ‘Playing Race Card’

Birmingham’s former Lord Mayor Muhammad Afzal was criticised for “playing the race card” in a bid to hold on to a title as a city alderman.

Birmingham Ex-Lord Mayor slammed for 'Playing Race Card' f

"It is nonsensical that race has played a part here."

Birmingham’s former Lord Mayor has been slammed for “playing the race card” in a bid to hold on to a title as a city alderman, the city’s highest civic honour.

Labour supporter Muhammad Afzal faces losing the honorary role for his actions after his election defeat.

He also faces possible expulsion from the Labour Party.

In a letter in his defence, Mr Afzal claimed the attempt to strip him of the honour was motivated by age and race discrimination.

This was slammed by Councillor Ayoub Khan, who was on the receiving end of the election row and has since been calling for action against Mr Afzal.

Both Councillor Khan and the ex-Lord Mayor are of Pakistani origin.

He said: “It is nonsensical that race has played a part here. It is undignified and wholly unwarranted.

“You cannot pull the race card from the bottom of the deck because you were caught out in making false allegations to a court.”

Although he has never been tried for a crime, Mr Afzal’s behaviour was condemned in a written judgement by High Court Judge Richard Foster.

Mr Afzal had “audaciously” petitioned to have the Aston election result thrown out on grounds that Liberal Democrat opponents Councillor Khan and Councillor Mumtaz Hussain had lied to discredit him.

He alleged the pair had “maliciously” and “falsely” claimed he unlawfully handed out gifts during the campaign.

Mr Afzal made the claims to the High Court only for doorbell video footage to show him handing out packets of dates to voters.

The case was subsequently withdrawn at his request.

A Birmingham City Council meeting is taking place on January 9, 2024, to decide his future as an alderman.

In a letter, Mr Afzal’s solicitors said attempts to strip him of his title were “discriminatory” based on his “age and race”.

Councillor Khan raised concerns with Birmingham Central Mosque, which Mr Afzal chairs, claiming the actions he took were designed to ruin a fellow Muslim and were at odds with the teachings of Islam.

He also intends to ask the High Court to consider whether Mr Afzal’s actions amounted to contempt of court.

The case was previously referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions but no criminal charges have resulted.

Councillor Khan hopes to have an opportunity during the council meeting to explain the impact the court proceedings had on him and his fellow councillor.

He said: “This was a man who acted maliciously to make a false allegation that could have destroyed me and ruined my reputation and career, yet even now there is an argument about whether he should be allowed to retain his privileged honour as a city alderman.

“This is a role that is the highest honour the city can bestow on one of its own.”

“It is a title that carries with it huge prestige and should represent the best of civic pride.

“If someone has proven by their actions to lack the integrity that the office represents, I do not think it is right that they retain that privilege. Their actions reflect on that institution.”

The council’s 101 members will be asked to vote on three specific recommendations.

These are to consider if the council should review its policies around appointing and removing honorary aldermen; that future Lord Mayors should be recommended not to ask Mr Afzal to undertake any official duties; and that they should also be recommended not to invite him to attend any official events in that capacity.

To officially remove Mr Afzal’s title, further action will be needed.

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”

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