A BIRMINGHAM councillor who sparked anger when refusing to stand for a Solihull war hero has spoken out against “hypocritical politicians” who have condemned her actions.
Respect Party councillor Salma Yaqoob, who represents the Birmingham Sparkbrook ward refused to stand alongside more than 100 other councillor members - who put aside their political differences to honour Afghanistan veteran former Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher.
Matt received the George Cross in 2008 and the 27-year-old attended a full city council meeting as a guest and to highlight his work with the Royal British Legion.
Coun Yaqoob has been criticised for her decision to remain seated as the local hero was introduced to the meeting - along with fellow Respect councillor Mohammed Ishtiaq who joined her mini-protest.
But the Sparkbrook councillor insists that her protest was not aimed at Matt and was instead designed to show her disapproval for the way in which politicians are “deliberately blurring human stories into politics in order to cover up mistakes”.
Speaking to the Solihull News, Coun Yaqoob said: “It is shameful and disgraceful that they’re exploiting the goodwill of our feelings towards the soldiers.
“Pinning medals on people does not make the politicians right.”
A former leader of the Stop the War Coalition in Birmingham, Coun Yaqoob says she didn’t want to stand side by side with politicians who she feels invited former L/Cpl Croucher into the monthly meeting in order to mask the real problems caused by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It was wrong of the council leadership to do this in our debating chamber,” she added.
“It is a political chamber, not a ceremonial meeting. How can you keep politics out of the political arena?”
Coun Yaqoob says she has nothing but “deep admiration” for Matt Croucher and would have fully supported a ceremonial evening to celebrate the Solihull solidier’s achievements.
“The soldiers are doing their job, it’s the politicians that aren’t,” she added.