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Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Sarwar faces down death threats
By Stephen Stewart
Glasgow and west of Scotland reporter, BBC news website

He was the poster boy of the political classes in Scotland's Muslim community.

Mohammed Sarwar
Mr Sarwar said the threats would not stop him campaigning

As the UK's first Muslim MP, he was one of the most high-profile Asian figures in contemporary politics.

Mohammed Sarwar may be bowing out of the murky world of public service but he remains defiant despite a series of death threats over his involvement in the Kriss Donald murder trial.

The toll of political office appears to have been a high one. His family have faced a flurry of threats over the years from every hue of far-right group.

His part in smoothing the wheels of the extradition of the three murderers of Kriss Donald from Pakistan has also triggered a fresh round of death threats.

Mr Sarwar said: "Since I became involved in politics I have received death threats. I have received threats from the BNP, Combat 18, various neo-Nazi groups and the Ku Klux Klan.

"I have also been threatened by people upset by my part in the extradition of the Kriss Donald murderers.

"All of that has absolutely no bearing on my decision to stand down."

I will never cease to campaign about the cases I feel strongly about
Mohammed Sarwar

This is not the first time that threats to his safety have aroused Mr Sarwar's wide cantankerous streak.

In the 2005 general election, he refused to share the platform with an opponent from the British National Party and persuaded other candidates to do the same.

The ensuing rumpus meant that the returning officer announced the result from a platform with no candidates, and a victorious Sarwar made a speech from the floor of the hall.

For many years, he enjoyed a privileged position as a politician and as a retail tycoon worth an estimated 16m, mainly from his family wholesale cash and carry business.

But his career as an MP, which is soon to end after his announcement that he will stand down at the next general election, has been plagued by accusations of sleaze.

Soon after his election as Glasgow Govan MP ten years ago, he was suspended from the parliamentary Labour party over allegations of bribing political opponents, and stood trial for fraud.

Mohammed Sarwar
Mr Sarwar said he faced numerous threats over the years

He was acquitted in March 1999 and restored to the parliamentary Labour Party. More recently, his son was convicted for a major money laundering scheme.

Mr Sarwar still often travels to Pakistan where he is involved in a number of welfare activities.

His projects include the building of a hospital at Toba Take Singh, which has been running for about a year.

He was also involved in the distribution of aid after the Pakistani earthquake in 2005. Mr Sarwar was also in Pakistan to help mediate over the fate of Misbah Rana and the courtroom battle between her parents.

Death threats

Critics could not claim that he has forgotten the red tenements and dusty streets of Govan as Mr Sarwar has arguably become one of the leading Commons advocates of the Scottish ship-building industry.

It appeared that no amount of death threats would deter him from what should be his political dotage.

Mr Sarwar added: "I will still be active in politics and in the Labour Party. I will never cease to campaign about the cases I feel strongly about.

"If anyone does anything silly, I will of course extend my full co-operation to Strathclyde Police. I will not shy away from anyone."


SEE ALSO
Sarwar plans to stand down as MP
22 Jun 07 |  Glasgow and West
MP's son guilty of huge cash scam
24 May 07 |  Glasgow and West
MP urges rethink on asylum case
21 Sep 06 |  Glasgow and West
Sarwar in talks after city bombs
19 Jul 05 |  Scotland
Gangsters, murder and extradition
08 Nov 06 |  Scotland
Kriss police arrive in Pakistan
30 Sep 05 |  Scotland
Suspect parcel mailed to MP
18 Apr 03 |  Scotland
Sarwar returns to Labour fold
26 Mar 99 |  Politics

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