UK election 2024: Video of Labour’s Khalid Mahmood arguing in mosque goes viral

Mahmood, who has described himself as ‘the most senior serving Muslim parliamentarian’, has had a career filled with controversies

Imran Mulla

Labour candidate Khalid Mahmood (West Midlands Labour)
Labour candidate Khalid Mahmood (West Midlands Labour)

Video footage of a Labour politician in a heated exchange with worshippers in a mosque in Birmingham has gone viral on social media just days before the UK general election.

Khalid Mahmood, Labour’s incumbent candidate for Birmingham Perry Barr, is seen telling those heckling him to “shut up” and condemning them for their “ignorance”.

Mahmood, first elected in 2001, has described himself as “the most senior serving Muslim parliamentarian”.

video circulating on social media, which went viral in the past week, shows Mahmood speaking at a mosque in April and arguing with worshippers about Labour’s position on Gaza.

“Shut up and listen, please,” he shouts in the video. “Give me the respect. I give you the respect, just listen.”

He goes on to address a heckler: “You don’t read anything. The problem with people are that they’re ignorant. The problem is even in the house of God you’re ignorant and that’s the problem.” 

Mahmood adds: “The big problem with our community is illiteracy, because they’re not able to read what’s in front of them.”

Mahmood, who is being challenged for his seat at this election by independent candidate Ayoub Khan, defied Labour leader Keir Starmer in November to vote for a ceasefire in Gaza. Starmer had ordered his MPs not to vote for the motion.

Mahmood’s time as MP has been laden with controversy.

In November 2001 he published an article under his name in the Observer supporting Britain’s invasion of Afghanistan. A few days later it emerged that the article had not been written by Mahmood but by a Foreign Office minister. 

When Britain invaded Iraq in 2003, Mahmood publicly supported the war. 

In 2009 the politician was criticised for using a false name to claim more than a thousand pounds in expenses, using an alias to stay at a five-star hotel in London with his girlfriend. Mahmood defended his actions at the time, saying he paid a “bloody good rate” for the hotel room. 

Policy Exchange

Later, he became a proponent of the now-debunked conspiracy theory in 2014 that there was a Trojan Horse plot by Muslims to take over Birmingham schools.

Mahmood has never acknowledged that Trojan Horse was a hoax. In 2022, he wrote an article for The Spectator attacking a New York Times podcast which showed that the Trojan Horse plot was not real.

Although the piece was headlined “What the New York Times gets wrong about the ‘Trojan Horse Affair'”, it mentioned nothing the New York Times had got wrong.

That same year Mahmood’s former aide and girlfriend, Elaina Cohen, accused him of unfairly dismissing her, although he said she was fired after “embarrassing and humiliating” him.

In 2018 Cohen, who is Jewish, had taken him to an employment tribunal on grounds of religious discrimination. The case cost the taxpayer £40,000 ($50,600) and was settled out of court. 

Mahmood is also a senior fellow at Policy Exchange, a neoconservative think tank that has significantly influenced Britain’s counter-extremism policy in the past decade. 

In February 2023 Mahmood came under fire for claiming at a Policy Exchange event that adverts showing women wearing headscarves intimidate Muslim women who choose not to wear them.

In April this year, he co-authored a Policy Exchange report urging the Conservative government not to adopt the All Party Parliamentary Group’s definition of Islamophobia, which has been adopted by Mahmood’s own party, Labour.

But in an unexpected twist, Byline Times revealed on 24 April that Mahmood had privately called the think tank “dangerous” and said he had only joined it to “keep an eye” on its work. 

Now, Mahmood faces a challenge on 4 July from independent candidate Ayoub Khan, a councillor who resigned from the Liberal Democrats in May, saying that “they wanted to prevent me from speaking about Gaza”.

Last week, Mahmood promoted a video saying Khan “has never called for a ceasefire formally in the council”. 

Middle East Eye has contacted Mahmood for comment.

Video of Labour’s Khaled Mahmood arguing with worshippers in mosque goes viral

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