Strong Muslim gay rights voice sits out leaflet controversy

Raja Miah defending gay people

Most other articles on this Neil Wilby Media website are written in the third person. This is one of the exceptions, as it would be impossible to set out the story otherwise.

Over this weekend, one in which I had planned to take a break after an intensive few weeks back in the UK from a sojourn in North Africa, six articles have been published: Three routine re-working of police force press office reports and appeals – and three linked, and rather more taxing, efforts on another controversy that reaches into the darker corners of Oldham politics.

The first, which went out on Friday afternoon, was headlined ‘Independents election leaflet leads to ‘hate crime’ report’ and can be read in full here. As the headline suggests, the content of an election leaflet had caused offence and a report to the police. An independent councillor was campaigning for re-election on a platform of no LGBT teaching to young schoolchildren in his ward, having never raised it previously through the usual democratic channels.

On Saturday morning, quite early, the second was published, ‘Muslim councillor will attend Oldham Pride following ‘hate crime’ leaflet apologies’ which can be read here. Its thrust was what appeared to be a satisfactory resolution to the issue with apologies and acceptance by Cllr Aftab Hussain to attend Oldham Pride in July this year.

The third, published on Sunday morning is headlined, ‘‘Pride’ comes before a fall?’ (read in full here), and records a dramatic about turn on the apology and the attendance at Pride by Cllr Hussain. A matter first notified to me on Saturday evening and discussions by text continued into the early hours of Sunday.

The LGBT issue, the report to the police, the apologies, the Pride invitation and then an elected councillor going back on his word to another councillor, has, unsurprisingly, raised considerable discussion on social media, in the now ubiquitous WhatsApp groups and on the campaigning trail in the St Mary’s ward. There is also the latent suspicions of unseen hands pulling the strings of Cllr Hussain.

Over the weekend I have had numerous phone calls, messages and an email exchange with Aftab Hussain and his election ‘running mate’, Aisha Kouser. A man I had met previously on polling day in May, 2022, and with whom I got on well, Aftab is a well known Glodwick-based taxi driver and, a former Liberal Democrat activist, one of the best connected politicians in Oldham.

Added to that were extensive contacts with others involved at the heart of the story, notably Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians and the police press office. Sifting through a plethora of background information that poured in from other stakeholders was also taxing an increasingly weary mind and body.

Two pieces of such information did capture my attention, however: Screenshots from the Twitter feed of a notorious, long-term unemployed, Tameside-based conspiracy theorist, Raja Miah, and a link to an article the same person had published on one of his frequently-banned Recusant Nine social media platforms. A separate link to another article on ‘Medium’ bore similar content and both were interesting in the context of the three Neil Wilby Media LGBT/Pride articles.

Whilst it is likely I have seen them before, the fact that he was a proclaimed gay rights activist hadn’t registered enough to put this point to Aftab Hussain, a friend and political ally of Miah. Most recently evidenced when the latter claimed that ‘St Mary’s Independents’ (Cllr Hussain and Ms Kouser) was part of a mythical, Recusant Nine-led  ‘Coalition of Independents’ set to take thirteen seats from Labour in the forthcoming local elections in Oldham, including that, they say, of the Council Leader, Cllr Amanda Chadderton, in her Royton South ward.

Miah records that Qasim Lenny, owner of the powerful Oldham News and Media Facebook page, described him as ‘a gay christian convert’ which, he says, led to murder plots and death threats. Claims not backed up with any evidence.

The highly litigious Miah has not challenged Oldham News and Media via the civil courts over their statement to 40,000 followers. A similar remark that can be applied to Tahir Mushtaq’s more bald assertion on social media that Miah is gay and a person named as his young partner was identified as living at the same address.

Now Miah claims it was me who called him ‘a gay christian convert’. I would doubt that very much and searches of my own archives and the internet has produced nothing in that regard. If he can assist with screenshots showing that I did, it would go a long way in resolving that part of the controversy.

What I did do was question whether he was gay, in order to make sense of the Qasim Lenny and Tahir Mushtaq controversies and his routine and connected violent fantasies involving mobsters, gangsters, goons, murder, gang rape, armed robbers, cartels and the like which are deployed to leech money from his group of Recusant Nine supporters whom self-style as The Rabble.

It was in a list of numerous other public interest questions put to him in September, 2022. Numbers 26 and 27 in a list of 45 questions. He did not respond to any of them. They can be read in full here, a fascinating exercise looking back.

Raja Miah is still alive and well, although susceptible to regular bouts of illness (read more here) and for the avoidance of doubt, his sexuality (or religion for that matter) is his own private business – I couldn’t care less, quite frankly – until he uses it publicly, and repeatedly, as a stick with which to beat other prominent individuals in the Oldham community from his plush apartment in a neighbouring Borough. One of whom, Tahir Mushtaq, I have to declare is a friend, the other I didn’t even know was involved in community news production until this morning. Although I was aware that there is significant, long-term tension between Miah and the other two.

Miah also grounded a criminal complaint against a local businessman and charity organiser, Mohammed Imran Ali (more widely known as ‘Irish Imy’) in alarm and distress caused by on-line allegations of being in a gay relationship with convicted Oldham criminal, Khazir Rehman (better known locally as ‘Kaiser’). The latter declined to support his long-term ally and friend in that prosecution, despite pressure from the police, believing it to have no merit.

Although claiming that Cllr Hussain’s election campaign was under the Recusant Nine wing, a matter strongly refuted by that same candidate, Raja Miah appears to have made just one reference on social media to this weekend’s controversy. Preferring to take a swipe at Cllr Chadderton over the press statement she provided to me on Friday afternoon that was central to the first article. Plus, of course, a plug for the latest grift where £400-worth of leaflet printing is charged to The Rabble at £1,000.

Screenshot 2023-04-03 at 10.10.22

Noisy, from his Mossley lair, on every other political topic impacting ‘the small town I left behind’ in 2004, Bradford-born Miah has, to all intents and purposes, chosen to steer clear of this one.

The ever-increasing Neil Wilby Media readers, and a diminishing Rabble, are invited to reflect on the reasons why. In the meantime, they may all be shocked and surprised at what he said on the specific topic in June, 2021. It chimes, of course, very strongly with the press statement of Cllr Chadderton on the present LGBT leaflet controversy. A matter, and in very typical style, he appears to have conveniently forgotten when attempting to belittle the Council Leader over it.

Screenshot 2023-04-03 at 10.46.02

Page last updated Monday 3rd April, 2023 at 1415hrs

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Picture credits: Twitter

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2023. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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