Salma Yaqoob

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Salma Yaqoob
Salma Yaqoob.jpg
Yaqoob in May 2013
Leader of the Respect Party
In office
8 August 2005 – 11 September 2012
Preceded by Linda Smith
Succeeded by Arshad Ali
Personal details
Born Salma Sultana Yaqoob
(1971-08-15) 15 August 1971 (age 47)[1]
Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Political party Independent (2017–present)
Other political
Respect (2004–2012)
Aqil Haider Chaudary
(m. 1996)
Children 3
Alma mater Aston University
Occupation Psychotherapist[2]

Salma Sultana Yaqoob (born 15 August 1971)[3] is a British activist. She was formerly associated with the Respect Party, of which she was leader and vice-chairman, and a Birmingham City Councillor representing that party. She is the head of the Birmingham Stop the War Coalition and a spokesperson for Birmingham Central Mosque.[4] On 11 September 2012, Yaqoob confirmed that she had left Respect.[5]


Yaqoob's parents, Mohammad and Gulzarda Yaqoob, emigrated to the UK from Pakistan in the 1960s, and her father worked in a mill before joining the Royal Mail.[6] They had 7 children – 3 daughters and 4 sons. Yaqoob was born in Bradford on 15 August 1971[7], but the family later moved to Birmingham, where she was raised. She describes herself during her formative years as being a "tomboyish girl" who played football on the streets of Alum Rock.

Yaqoob had to challenge her father's "cultural fears" to be allowed to enrol at university and eventually attended Aston University where she studied biochemistry and psychology and became a qualified psychotherapist.[8] Yaqoob became politically active after the September 11 attacks. She claims to have been spat at on the streets of Birmingham in the days following the attacks.[9]

Political career[edit]

2005 general election[edit]

In the 2005 general election, she stood as the Respect candidate for the Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath constituency against Labour's Roger Godsiff MP, with the backing of the Muslim Association of Britain.[10] She finished in second place, ahead of the Liberal Democrat and Conservative candidates, and with 27.5% of the total vote.[citation needed]

2006 elected as Respect councillor[edit]

Yaqoob was elected with 49.4% of the vote in the Sparkbrook ward of Birmingham City Council in the 2006 local elections. She claimed that her election "challenged the traditional conservatism that denies leading public positions to women, and challenged the old order, which treats our communities as silent voting fodder. And it was only possible because we united people around a progressive message of anti-racism and social justice".[11] She was re-elected to the post in May 2010.[12]

2010 general election[edit]

Yaqoob stood in the 2010 general election for the Respect Party in the Birmingham Hall Green constituency,[13] and came second to Roger Godsiff of the Labour Party, trailing by 3,799 votes.[citation needed]

Yaqoob gained 13.9% of the vote, chiefly from the Labour incumbent — the Labour candidate lost 11.7% of the total vote, election-to-election.[14] The Green Party had stood down its candidate in favour of Yaqoob after a members' vote.[15] Green Party leader Caroline Lucas stated she believed "Salma will make a very good MP".[16] The retiring Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, Lynne Jones, backed Yaqoob's candidacy ahead of Labour's Godsiff, saying "Salma Yaqoob is an excellent candidate of great ability who, as a councillor, has shown that she works hard for her constituents. I have a lot of time for her ... [I]n the Hall Green constituency ... I am not happy with the endorsement of the Labour candidate".[17]

In 2011 Yaqoob claimed to have been offered a choice of two 'safe seats' by the Labour Party, one in Birmingham and one in the Black Country, in the lead-up to the 2010 general election. She stated she had declined the offer.[18]

Council ceremony in 2011[edit]

At a Birmingham City Council meeting in early February 2011, Yaqoob and another Respect party councillor, Mohammed Ishtiaq, sat with their arms folded and refused to participate in a standing ovation at a meeting at which Britain's most highly decorated serving marine and Afghanistan veteran Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, GC, RMR was a guest.[19][better source needed] This led to widespread criticism from other councillors, including allegations that it was a disrespectful act. The two councillors argued they were protesting against "false patriotism" by politicians, while defending their own history of support of individual troops.[20]

Martin Mullaney, a Liberal Democrat councillor, alleged afterwards that Yaqoob would have applauded if it were the 21 July failed bombers who were being honoured. He later apologised for this claim.[21]

Resignation as councillor and leaving Respect[edit]

On 7 July 2011, Yaqoob announced her intention to stand down as a Birmingham City councillor, citing health reasons.[22]

On 11 September 2012, Yaqoob announced her resignation from the Respect party after what she described as a difficult few weeks and a breakdown in relations. Yaqoob had distanced herself from comments made by George Galloway about rape and the allegations made against Julian Assange. In her statement, Yaqoob said "I remain committed to the principles and values that led me to help found Respect. The policies we have fought for need to be voiced as loud as ever in opposition to a political establishment that remains out of touch with working people."[23][24] In an interview with Aida Edemariam of The Guardian, Yaqoob said that she was being forced into making a "false choice" between Galloway's "anti-imperialist stances" and defending women's rights.[25]

Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas offered immediate support to Yaqoob, saying "Really hope Salma Yaqoob's resignation from Respect doesn't mean she's leaving politics – we need her clarity and vision."[25] Labour MP, Richard Burden said Yaqoob could possibly have a future with the Labour Party, saying "If right for her and us and differences resolved, Salma Yaqoob would be asset".[26]

In December 2015, it was reported that Yaqoob had applied to become a Labour Party member in Hall Green. The local constituency executive committee refused her membership, since she had previously stood against Labour candidates.[27]

2017 general election[edit]

Yaqoob stood in the 2017 general election as an independent candidate in the Bradford West constituency.[28] She came third with 13.9% of the votes, 2.7% behind the second-placed Conservative Party candidate.[29]


In 2006, Yaqoob received the Lloyds TSB Asian Jewel Award for Public Service Excellence while Harper's Bazaar magazine named her in the top thirty list of British women, alongside Kate Winslet, all of whom they considered to be 'women shaping Britain'.[30]

In 2008, she was voted to eleventh place in the Birmingham Post's Power 50 list of the most influential people in the city. She was included in the newspaper's list again in 2009.[31][32] They called her "a doughty fighter for inner city areas". During this year, she was also included in The Daily Telegraph's annual list of 'Top 100 left wingers'.[33]

In 2009, Yaqoob was included in the Muslim Women Power List run by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in association with The Times and Emel magazine.[34][35][36]

According to The Guardian newspaper in 2010, Yaqoob was "the most prominent Muslim woman in British public life".[37]

Media appearances[edit]

Yaqoob has made six appearances on the panel of BBC One's Question Time programme. Her first appearance was in Skegness, 19 January 2006, shortly before her election as a councillor.[38] She returned in Preston (October 2006),[39] followed by her home town of Birmingham on 8 February 2007[40] and Bath on 12 February 2009.[41]

On 10 December 2009, Question Time was held in Wootton Bassett, a town where the bodies of UK troops killed in Afghanistan pass through and are informally mourned.[42] Salma Yaqoob stated that she "would be proud to have my sons defend this country" and argued for better support for UK troops and their withdrawal from Afghanistan.[43]

She made her sixth appearance on the show on Thursday 10 June 2010, when it was broadcast from Plymouth. She was joined on the panel by Ben Bradshaw, Jeremy Hunt, Katie Hopkins and Toby Young.[44]

Yaqoob has also made appearances on The Politics Show,[45] This Week,[46] Daily Politics,[47] 10 O'Clock Live,[48] and Frost Over The World.[49]

According to The Daily Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan, Yaqoob wrote an article in Inayat Bunglawala's trends magazine looking forward to the establishment of an “Islamic Republic of Great Britain” in which smoking, drinking alcohol and the charging of interest were banned, crime dropped dramatically because of the imposition of punishments imposed through Sharia law and Salman Rushdie was forced to leave the country.[27]

Death threats[edit]

Yaqoob has received death threats from Islamist extremists and far right extremists. In August 2009, Birmingham man Stuart Collins appeared in court charged with threatening to kill Yaqoob. He was also charged with racially and religiously aggravated harassment.[50][51][52][53][54] In 2013, she was threatened with having her throat cut in an online article which talked about "smashing Pakistani people, taking a nail bomb into a Mosque and rioting in Birmingham" and then in the closing comment it said: “If that Salma Yaqeubs (sic) there, cut her f*****g throat.”[55]

During her election campaigns, Yaqoob faced harassment and death threats from al Ghurabaa, an extremist-Islamist group later banned under the Terrorism Act 2006. Al-Ghurabaa claimed that is apostasy for Muslims to participate in Western democratic elections, and its members defaced her election posters with the word "Kafir".[56] Yaqoob believed she was being targeted for being a Muslim woman in the public eye and for working with churches and synagogues.[57][58]

Private life and other activities[edit]

Yaqoob married Dr Aqil Chaudary, a GP, in 1996; they have three sons.[59] Her family are supporters of Aston Villa F.C.[60][8][6][61] She runs a part-time psychotherapy practice.[62]

She is employed as a Community Engagement Senior Manager at the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. In April 2014 she was appointed Independent Chair of the Stakeholder Council of Birmingham South Central Clinical Commissioning Group.[63]

She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Birmingham City University in January 2015.[64]

Salma Yaqoob leads the "Hands off Birmingham schools" group, which was set up[when?] in response to Operation Trojan Horse.[65]

See also[edit]

List of British Pakistanis


  1. ^ "Birmingham Bin Workers Support Group Launched on Tuesday 3rd October 2017". 3 October 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2018. 
  2. ^ "Booktopia: Salma Yaqoob". Red Pepper. 28 September 2002. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Birmingham Bin Workers Support Group Launched on Tuesday 3rd October 2017". 3 October 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2018. 
  4. ^ Yaqoob, Salma (25 October 2005). "Rumours and riots". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2018. 
  5. ^ Yaqoob, Salma (11 September 2012). "With regret". Salma Yaqoob. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Ann McFerran (22 July 2007) "Relative values: Salma Yaqoob and her father Mohammad",; accessed 15 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Birmingham Bin Workers Support Group Launched on Tuesday 3rd October 2017". 3 October 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2018. 
  8. ^ a b "Profile: Respect Party leader Salma Yaqoob", BBC News, 8 April 2010.
  9. ^ "Salma Yaqoob, 33". The Guardian. 30 November 2004. Retrieved 28 April 2018. 
  10. ^ Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) published 8 April 2005, titled 'The General Elections; Guidelines and Recommendations'
  11. ^ Yaqoob, Salma (13 May 2006). "The women won it". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2008. 
  12. ^ Birmingham City Council (7 May 2010). "2010 Local Election results for Sparkbrook". Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "Line-up of Birmingham's general election candidates". Sunday Mercury. 21 April 2010. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  14. ^ Election 2010 result – Birmingham Hall Green,; retrieved 7 May 2010.
  15. ^ "Birmingham Green Party: Elections". Birmingham Green Party. Archived from the original on 3 June 2010. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
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  18. ^ "Controversial Birmingham councillor Salma Yaqoob quits over health fears". Birmingham Mail. 7 July 2011. 
  19. ^ Neil Sears (4 February 2011). "So much for respect: Two Muslim councillors refused to clap war hero". Daily Mail. London, UK. 
  20. ^ "Councillors refuse to stand for war hero". 3 February 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
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  22. ^ "Respect leader Salma Yaqoob to stand down as Birmingham councillor". Birmingham Post. 7 July 2011. 
  23. ^ Quinn, Ben (12 September 2012). "Salma Yaqoob quits as Respect party leader". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  24. ^ "Respect Party leader Salma Yaqoob quits blaming 'breakdown in trust'". BBC News. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  25. ^ a b Edemariam, Aida (22 September 2015). "Respect's Salma Yaqoob: 'Why I quit'". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2018. 
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  27. ^ a b Gilligan, Andrew (19 December 2015). "Labour moderates fighting to stop leading Stop the War activist joining the party". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31 December 2015. 
  28. ^ "Bradford West: Ex-Respect Party leader Salma Yaqoob to stand". BBC News. 11 May 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2017. 
  29. ^ "Election 2017: Bradford West". BBC News. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  30. ^ "The Muslim News Awards 2009 Panel of Judges". The Muslim News. 27 February 2009. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. 
  31. ^ "Power 50: No. 11. Salma Yaqoob, Birmingham City Council". The Birmingham Post. 15 July 2008. Archived from the original on 1 January 2010. 
  32. ^ "Power 50: No. 24. Salma Yaqoob". The Birmingham Post. 15 July 2008. 
  33. ^ Dale, Iain; Brivati, Brian (19 September 2008). "Top 100 left wingers: 100-76". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  34. ^ "Muslim Women Power List". The Guardian. London. 25 March 2009. 
  35. ^ Rose, Hilary (21 March 2009). "Meet the 13 most powerful Muslim women in Britain". The Times. Retrieved 28 April 2018. (Subscription required (help)). 
  36. ^ "Muslim Women Power List". Equality and Human Rights Commission. March 2009. Archived from the original on 15 March 2010. 
  37. ^ Bunting, Madeleine (23 April 2010). "Respect candidate spearheads quiet revolution to get Muslim women involved in politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  38. ^ "What you've said: 19 January 2006". Question Time. BBC News. 20 January 2006. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  39. ^ "This Week's Panel". Question Time. BBC News. 19 October 2006. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  40. ^ "This Week's Panel". Question Time. BBC News. 8 February 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  41. ^ "Last Week's Panel". Question Time. BBC News. 9 February 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  42. ^ "This Week's Panel". Question Time. BBC News. 8 December 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  43. ^ Salma Yaqoob : Question Time on Afghanistan : 10.12.09. BBC. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  44. ^ "BBC News : Question Time : This Week's Panel". BBC. 9 June 2010. 
  45. ^ "Representing all communities". Salma Yaqoob. 30 March 2010. 
  46. ^ "This Week: Salma Yaqoob". BBC. 22 September 2006. 
  47. ^ "Cllr Salma Yaqoob challenges Khalid Mahmood MP on the Politics Show". Birmingham Respect. 16 February 2009. 
  48. ^ "10 O'Clock Live – Guests: Episode 15". Channel 4. 28 April 2011. 
  49. ^ "Frost Over The World Debating the face veil". Al Jazeera English. 10 April 2011. 
  50. ^ "Mental health of racist extremist who harassed Birmingham councillor to be assessed". The Birmingham Mail. 25 May 2011. 
  51. ^ "Kill threat to Birmingham councillor". The Sunday Mercury. 16 August 2009. 
  52. ^ "Man appears in court over threats to kill Sparkbrook councillor". The Birmingham Mail. 16 August 2009. 
  53. ^ "UK: Racist threatens councilor to death". The Palestine Telegraph. 19 August 2009. Archived from the original on 4 January 2010. 
  54. ^ "Number one for news, opinion, sport & celebrity gossip". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  55. ^ Neil Elkes, "Death threats made to Salma Yaqoob after Question Time appearance", Birmingham Mail, 8 June 2013.
  56. ^ "The Stirrer". The Stirrer. 28 July 2005. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  57. ^ "I will not give in to threat". The Birmingham Mail (full article). 29 April 2005. 
  58. ^ "I will not give in to threat". The Birmingham Mail (includes date). 29 April 2005. 
  59. ^ McFerran, Ann (22 July 2007). "Relative values: Salma Yaqoob and her father Mohammad". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 28 April 2018. (Subscription required (help)). 
  60. ^ "Booktopia: Salma Yaqoob",; accessed 8 October 2016.
  61. ^ "The Lutz Report... on Salma Yaqoob",; accessed 8 October 2016.
  62. ^ "Respect's Salma Yaqoob: 'Why I quit'". The Guardian. 22 September 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  63. ^ "Birmingham South Central CCG Governing Body Meeting Minutes". Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  64. ^ "Leading female campaigner to receive university accolade". Birmingham City University. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  65. ^ Gibbons, Brett. "Salma Yaqoob brands Ofsted probe into Trojan Horse schools as 'politically motivated'". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 


  • Solidarity in Practice, Salma Yaqoob (p. 60, Stop the War: The story of Britain's biggest mass movement, Andrew Murray and Lindsey German, ISBN 1-905192-00-2)

External links[edit]


Party political offices
Preceded by
Linda Smith
Leader of the Respect Party
Succeeded by
Arshad Ali