'I will not be muzzled' – Malik

KIRKLEES Racial Equality Council has warned that comments made by Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Shahid Malik (pictured right) may be referred to the Commission for Racial Equality for investigation.

The Labour MP was reported to KREC by Huddersfield-based organisation Human Right Centre after calling for failed Iraqi Kurdish asylums seekers to be sent home.

KREC spokesman Jamil Akhtar confirmed they had written to Mr Malik about the complaint and added that they were waiting for a response before deciding how best to proceed.

He said: "If we think it is worthwhile taking it further we will refer it to the Commission for Racial Equality."

But Mr Malik remained defiant in the face of the threat.

He said: "I am happy for them to pass it on to whoever they want."

Speaking of KREC he added: "It will prove what a lot of people think – that these organisations are pretty useless on these issues.

"I am more than relaxed about it. I will not be muzzled and I'll continue to speak out for my constituency.

"These are issues which it is my job to raise and people have to know that I am taking their concerns seriously."

Mr Malik's comments came after a series of clashes between Iraqi and Pakistani men in Dewsbury over the last 12 months.

In July last year police made seven arrests after disturbances in Savile Town and Ravensthorpe, and in December, eight men were arrested after a 'mini-riot' between the two groups in Thornhill Lees, which left one man with serious head injuries.

Mr Malik added that he had received complaints from elderly people in his constituency saying that they were frightened to walk past groups of asylum seekers who often congregated in the street.

Referring to the Iraqi Kurdish community, he said: "I have been at pains to point out that what I am talking about is the minority of people.

"But it is a very unique and unusual community – young men aged 18-30, no women and no older people.

"They are more prone to the kind of things that lead to anti-social behaviour.

"We have, as a government, to deal with asylum claims much quicker and get those people out of the country whose applications have failed."

But Mr Malik's comments angered some people. Alan Brooke, co-ordinator of the Huddersfield-based Human Rights Centre, said: "Ideally we would like Mr Malik to admit he has made a mistake and apologise to the hundreds of Kurds in Kirklees, many of whom are offended by his comments.

"We'd also like him to recognise the fact that Kurdistan might be more stable than the rest of Iraq but that is not a good benchmark.

"He has tarred one racial group with the same brush because of the actions of a minority."