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Paving a political path to Bradford's Muslim women
Much has been made of Pakistani Muslim male politics in Bradford since Labour's historic defeat in the Bradford West by-election earlier this year. And since Muslim women were credited with being a key component of George Galloway's stunning victory, Labour has been keen to court this unlikely female electorate.
Labour's real challenge though goes much further than developing a dialogue with Muslim women; the party must also give serious consideration to the means of access. Labour will have to pave a direct political path to lead them to Bradford's Muslim women.
There's a history of wariness about reaching out to Muslim women in Bradford. We're singled out as a difficult-to-reach group, and branded by public institutions and policy makers as voiceless, passive homemakers. All too often, issues affecting Muslim women are evaded on the basis that they are too sensitive. The ongoing Islam-bashing in the media simply reinforces the stereotype. So when the Bradford Muslim Women's Council (BMWC) invited Ed Miliband to listen to the views of its local members, it is hardly surprising that the Labour leader accepted the invitation on the spot.
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