A man has been arrested after death threats were allegedly made on social media towards former Respect Party leader Salma Yaqoob.
The suspect was arrested earlier today for allegedly making death threats on Facebook following a TV appearance by the former Birmingham councillor.
Ms Yaqoob shared the threats with her Twitter followers after she appeared on the BBC’s Question Time on Thursday. West Midlands Police said a 37 year-old man from Corby has been arrested on suspicion of malicious communications. A spokesman confirmed he is being held by Northamptonshire police.
Member of Respect party, Yvonne Ridley told 5 Pillarz: “We’ve all received death threats, its part and parcel of being a vocal Muslim woman. Obviously Salma is synonymous with the anti-war movement and she is a very high-profile personality. It’s outrageous that people who make these kinds of threats think they can target her, it’s not right.
“As a TV presenter I have received verbal abuse and written threats, but I refuse to change my ways. I very much doubt that these threats will silence Salma, as discomforting as it maybe.”
Previous death threats
Ms Yaqoob has passionately campaigned on local issues which ensured her plenty of admirers, but her outspoken views on British involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan also gained her many enemies.
She received death threats from extremist groups and had billboards featuring her image defaced. She believed she was being targeted for being a Muslim woman in the public eye and for working with churches and synagogues.
Ms Yaqoob allegedly faced harassment and death threats from Al-Ghurabaa, an Islamist group later banned under the Terrorism Act 2006. Al-Ghurabaa members allegedly defaced her election posters with the word “Kafir”, meaning a disbeliever.
In August 2009, Stuart Collins from Bartley Green, Birmingham appeared in court charged with threatening to kill Ms Yaqoob. He was also charged with racially and religiously aggravated harassment, and as of June 2011 sentencing is still pending.
Resignation as councillor and leaving Respect party
On 7 July 2011, Ms Yaqoob announced her intention to stand down as a Birmingham City councillor for personal health reasons. And on the 11 September 2012, she announced her resignation from the Respect Party after what she described as a difficult few weeks and a breakdown in relations.
Ms Yaqoob had previously distanced herself from comments made by George Galloway about rape and allegations against Julian Assange. In her statement, Ms Yaqoob said: “I remain committed to the principles and values that led me to help found Respect.”