Anthea McIntyre, co-founder of the campaign group West Midlands Together, has condemned attacks against two mosques in Birmingham.

 

Miss McIntyre said: “These despicable attacks on people at worship were designed to provoke fear and anger.

"Happily the communities targeted showed admirable restraint and dignity, but that does not take away from the nastiness of the hate crime committed.

 “This was an act of unreasoning hatred and we can only hope that those responsible are traced and feel the full weight of the law.”

 

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, founded West Midlands Together with her Labour colleague Neena Gill after a spike in hate crime following the EU referendum.



Disabled people do not just need equal access to public spaces and buildings - they need equal access to the democratic process too.

That was the message from Anthea McIntyre MEP in an impassioned speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, during a debate on involvement of disabled people in the 2019 EU elections.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, was speaking after attending the 11th Conference of State Parties to the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations in New York.

She told MEPs of a session titled Nothing About us Without Us which outlined the steps some countries were taking to ensure everyone can vote – including mobile polling stations, voting in hospital and portable polling booths that can enable a wheelchair user to cast their vote in private.

She said: "As a signatory (to the Convention), the EU and the Member States have a responsibility to take appropriate action to ensure that all 80 million European citizens with disabilities, including those with mental or intellectual disabilities, can fully participate in the electoral process.

"The European Parliament has traditionally been a strong ally in implementing the human rights of persons with disabilities and the 2019 European elections should be no different."

Following the debate she said: "I have said before that you can judge a country's character as well as its progress by its expectations of disabled people. The acid test is whether, and to what degree, disabled people are allowed, helped and expected to participate fully in the democratic process - as voters, politicians, ministers or leaders."

Knife crime and religious tolerance were both on the agenda when the cross-party campaign group West  Midlands Together met in Birmingham

Alison Cope, a campaigner against knife crime who is supported by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, spoke of the death of her son Josh who was stabbed through the heart.

She said new campaign groups were springing up every six  months - but they were not working together. Children as young as seven were being groomed and exploited by gangs, she said, and young people's preoccupation with social media and video games was fuelling the problem.

Meera Sonecha, from West Midlands Mayor's office, spoke of Andy Street's Faith Action Plan and his determination to be a mayor for every faith community. She said hate crime had affected many people and communities were fearful about expressing their religious identities.

She said the mayor wanted particularly to target hate crime on public transport and was looking at what could be done in respect of cameras and monitoring, and how to achieve better messaging on the subject.

The joint-founder of West Midlands together Anthea McIntyre MEP said: "Violence involving knives is the real curse of our younger generation and we need to do all we can to guide them in the correct way.  Alison's message is personal and powerful, it speaks directly to young people and it needs to be heard more widely.

"Meera made clear the mayor's commitment to building good community relations and countering hate crime.

Philip Seccombe, Police and Commissioner for Warwickshire, said: "Most important thing is to make our forces are representative of the community they represent - all communities and groups.  That is what will give groups confidence in us."

West Midlands together was founded by Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, and her Labour colleague Neena Gill to foster tolerance and understanding following a spike in hate crime in the wake of the EU referendum.

In a letter to local papers she said:

"Congratulations to Kathryn Moore, Professor of Landscape Architecture at Birmingham City University, Mayor Andy Street and Dame Caroline Spelman MP for looking to create Britain's 16th national park here in the West Midlands.

"What a perfect antidote that would be to the popular misconception of our conurbation as a grim, grimy and crowded place that is in the Premiership for manufacturing and commerce, but non-league for beauty and fresh air.

"In fact - as we all know - our region has some of the most beautiful urban and rural landscapes anywhere and they deserve to be recognised and appreciated more widely.

"This is an opportunity to rethink the parameters of what a national park has to be. It does not need to be a Lake District or Snowdonia
- endless acres of wild countryside. Instead it can be a patchwork of greenery and parkland adjoining and incorporating more built-up areas
- more accessible but equally good on the eye and suitable for outdoor enjoyment.

"Let us press ahead with this plan - not just because it is good for our economy, jobs and tourism - but because it will bring a much overdue correction to our public image."


Campaigning MEP Anthea McIntyre has condemned Iran's killing of prisoner Mohammad Salas, executed in defiance of an 11th hour plea made by international parliamentarians.
 
She said: "The killing of Mr Salas marks a black day for justice, international rule of law and human rights."
 
The authorities in Tehran ordered the widely-condemned death sentence on Mr Salas to be carried out, just as a multi-party and cross-national group of MEPs was making a last-ditch plea for a stay of execution.
 
The Iranian authorities have spurned all previous appeals for the withdrawal of the death sentence and a retrial for Mr Salas.
 
Supporters say Mr Salas, a Gonabi Dervish, was wrongly convicted of the murder of three police officers when the case against him remained incomplete and unsubstantiated. Eyewitness and photographic evidence establishing his innocence was ignored by the court, while an alleged confession was extracted under duress.

He was sentenced to death by the Iranian Supreme Court in April.
 
A letter making a final plea to Tehran to halt the execution at the weekend was signed by 47 MEPs from 19 Member States and six political groups.
 
After learning of his death today Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: "Mr Salas was a victim of religious persecution and suffered a blatant mistrial.
 
"He was considered by the Iranian state to be a religious enemy and he suffered a politically-motivated execution because of politics and his faith.
 
"We did all we could to stop the execution but the Iranian regime was set on it. They should now face the gravest condemnation from the EU leadership and the international community as a whole."