Bradford – As the election fever gathers momentum at a time when prospective candidates aspire to dethrone their sitting parliamentary opponents, the Bradford West constituency is slowly simmering to boiling point as a toe to toe confrontation between maverick MP George Galloway and his [new] Labour opponent Naz Shah gathers pace.
Naz (also known as Naseem) Shah’s selection was met with raised eyebrows by the Bradford public as well as the Labour Party controlling the city as many whispered of foul play after the suspicious and sudden withdrawal of the selected candidate Amina Ali. Unconvinced by her reasons for the resignation, as many indicated that political pressure from the hierarchy influenced Ali’s decision, the Labour party had no choice but to conduct a second round of interviews. Naz Shah who only managed to receive 13 votes in the first round of the selection process, compared to Naveeda Ikram’s 78, was surprisingly given the nod by the selectors in London ahead of former Lord Mayor and seasoned politician, Ikram.
Urban Echo broke the story ‘Exclusive to Urban Echo: Naz Shah reveals all’ last month and in the process propelled Naz Shah onto the national platform as media heavyweights in the way of BBC, Ch4, Guardian, Times, Independent and online influencers Buzzfeed featured the story resulting in an on line viral reaction. The article was read over 50,000 times within 24 hours and shared via Facebook and Twitter 15,000 times. Naz Shah was suddenly trending across the country. But why such a dramatic reaction?
Shah’s penned story of a victim, an abused childhood and of her mother Zoora Shah, who was convicted for murder, struck a chord with its readers as she re-lived her harrowing story. But this was Naz Shah’s version of the story. She made reference to her abused mother who ultimately murdered the man that had been abusing her for so many years. She also made reference to her forced marriage in Pakistan at the age of fifteen.
Many observers are now questioning whether her story gives her the right credentials to stand for Parliament. Social media posts are predominantly for Shah but she also has her critics questioning the accuracy of her version of events in the story.
As it appears, Urban Echo has come into the possession of Shah’s ‘Nikkah’ (marriage) certificate dated May 31, 1990. The ceremony took place in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir when she married Syed Mazhar Shah. As Naz Shah was born on November 13, 1973, her marriage took place when she was sixteen and half years old – not fifteen years old as she claimed in the article.
Ron McKay, the Respect Party spokesperson told Urban Echo, “Naz Shah has claimed in all the media she has trailed her story across – Times, Telegraph, Mirror, Mail and Guardian, and of course Urban Echo – that she was fifteen when she married. This narrative plays into the racist line of Pakistani men grooming/sexually abusing under-age girls.
“Recently when I pointed out to a Guardian reporter the true date of the marriage, based on Supreme Court evidence that her mother had gone to Pakistan in May 1990 for the wedding, Naz Shah’s response was to add a further lie, that her mother’s visit was for the wedding celebration – some 18 months at least after the alleged wedding! Naseem Shah has deliberately and cynically bent the truth in order to manipulate people’s emotions in an attempt to win personal support for her candidature. She is unfit to represent Labour or, heaven forfend, the people of Bradford West,” he concludes.
The Labour party were unavailable for comment.