‘Fake’ Facebook page ordered Birmingham Muslims to vote Labour

A printout of a Facebook page which claimed religious leaders urged Birmingham Muslim voters to back the Labour Party in this year’s city council elections has been branded a fake. The claim was made in an Election Court challenge to Labour councillor for Washwood Heath , Ansar Ali Khan, who was re-elected on May 7 with a 7,802 majority. The Election Court challenge has been made by defeated Liberal Democrat candidate, Shamsur Rehman. The case, which is to decide whether corrupt practice took place in the run-up to this year’s election, surrounds a Facebook photo and message allegedly published on April 15, in which it suggests all followers of the Barelvi Sufi tradition of Islam should vote Labour . It showed leader of the Victoria Road Mosque in Aston, Pir Siddiqui, with eight Labour politicians, including Ansar Ali Khan, and the statement: “All Pir, Sahiban and Darbars in Birmingham have ordered Mureeds to vote Labour in elections.” On the second day of the case Gavin Millar QC, who is representing Coun Khan, claimed the printout of the Facebook page - submitted by Mr Rehman - was a fake. He said there had been little evidence of it being shared on Facebook, prompting a suggestion its origin was dubious. Continuing his cross examination of Mr Rehman Mr Millar said: “I am saying it is a fake document.” Names mentioned in the post included that of Pir Sultan Faisal Hassan Qadri, another religious leader from the Sultan Bahu Trust in Sparkhill and Mr Millar rubbished claims by Mr Rehman the page had widely shared, influencing voters, before being deleted. He said: “There is no evidence of the post on Sheik Qadri’s, Ghulam Bahu or the 16 other people’s pages. “Where is the evidence this post was in existence between April 15 and May 6, other than this partial document? “There is not a shred of evidence of activity on social media between April 15 and May 6 relating to this post. “There are no Facebook pages produced, no discussion produced and no evidence of people sharing it or commenting on it.” In reply Mr Rehman said: “Are you saying it dropped out of the sky? “What are you saying - that I doctored this document myself? “It is preposterous - you have no evidence I doctored this.” Witnesses for Mr Khan included the former Conservative Mayor of Worcester, Coun Allah Ditta, who had also been present at the Milad Muslim festival in Aston Park where the photo featured on Facebook photo had been taken in April. He said although politicians of all parties had been present the event had not been overtly political in nature. Dr Kurshid Ahmed, a trustee of the Hazrat Sultan Bahu Trust, also appeared as a witness for Coun Khan. The case continues.