Bradford West MP George Galloway Women in Bradford have rounded on MP George Galloway over his controversial views on rape expressed in an internet video. Those condemning his comments include a Muslim women’s group who say they were instrumental in helping him win his Bradford West seat. The Respect MP sparked the backlash by claiming the substance of rape allegations against Wikileaks campaigner Julian Assange amounted to no more than “bad sexual etiquette”. The MP went on to say in a video podcast on Monday that even if the complaints made against Mr Assange by two women in Sweden were true, they did not constitute rape as the women had previously consented to sex. And he hit back at his critics last night. Sabiya Khan, the chairman of Bradford’s Muslim Women’s Forum, condemned his comments as being disrespectful to women and warned Mr Galloway that he would have to explain himself to his constituents. And the former Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Naveeda Ikram said women had been “outraged” by Mr Galloway’s attitude. Mrs Khan said of Mr Galloway’s comments: “It is rich coming from the MP who represents Respect Party because it is about respecting women. “The comments were derogatory in terms of women and the issues needed further investigation before George Galloway made those comments relating to that case “The women will be generally disappointed from all sections of the community and let us not forget that Muslim women, in particular, played a large role in electing Mr Galloway for Bradford West. “Some of those women have been disappointed by these comments and I am sure Mr Galloway will have to explain himself to his constituents, particularly women members. “Islam places a great deal on representing women and equality between both genders.” Councillor Ikram said: “Rape was rape, no ifs or buts. If a woman does not consent, it is rape. “People are outraged, particularly women are very, very upset with the comments.The ripple effect has been felt across different communities. “It was quite careless to make callous comments when you are in that parlimentary position.” Yesterday, Mr Galloway was sacked as a comentator for Scottish political magazine Holyrood, whose editor Mandy Rhodes said: “There is no excuse, ever, for sex without consent”. National Respect leader Salma Yaqoob has also condemned the comments, saying they were “deeply disappointing and wrong”, with Councillor Alyas Karmani, the leader of the Respect group on Bradford Council, also calling them “unacceptable”. Coun Karmani said: “We support Salma’s comments in that the rape issue has to be treated sensitively and cannot be diminished in terms of severity and importance. “”I think it was an unacceptable comment to make but Mr Galloway’s comments did have a particular context. “But to refer to Assange’s behaviour as bad sexual etiquette denigrates the severity of an accusation of rape. The comments are unacceptable especially in an environment where we have increased sexual violence against women.” Bradford Council leader Coun Dave Green said that if Mr Galloway was one of his party members he would be seeking his suspension or resignation. “I have been approached by many people, including various councillors, who have been left outraged by the comments,” he said. “I share their outrage and I did not expect to hear these comments from an elected politician in the UK and it has taken us back to the Dark Ages. “It is clearly a matter for the Respect Party how they will deal with this situation, but all I can say is if he was a member of the Labour party I would expect that member to stand down and resign and, if they did not do that, I would move to suspend them both from the group and party.” Sabbiyah Pervez, who appeared in the controversial Make Bradford British television documentary, has called on Mr Galloway to apologise to women everywhere. “In particular women in Bradford who brought him to power, only to be told that if they were raped, their leader would tell them that they laid their own bed and now they have to lie in it,” she said. In her blog, the 22-year-old said that she heard herself say: “Oh God, no you didn’t George, please tell me you didn’t just say that. “His arguments regarding rape are absolutely beyond ridiculous. “What frustrates me about George’s comments are the effect they will have on his fans, I am one of the many Bradfordian women who was chuffed by his election result in Bradford West, hence why I am so incensed by his comments now.” Mr Galloway’s comments have also led to Bradford Rape Crisis fearing that it will put victims off reporting rape if they were unsure of what had happened to them. Its spokesman told the Telegraph & Argus: “Our concern is that women are not silenced by this and do not think they cannot talk about their experiences. “Our view is that it would be wrong to make any judgement on a particular case when it has not even come to court. Those comments do not show the understanding of the issue of consent or that women have the right to say no.” In a statement issued last night, George Galloway answered his critics.
He said: “Being lectured by Dave Green is like being told to sit up straight by Quasimodo.
“How many times do I have to say that non-consensual sex is rape – and no never means yes? No equivocations.
“It’s the exploitation of the rape allegations, as in this case, which makes it more difficult for women who have genuinely been raped to come forward.
“The writer and activist Naomi Klein, someone who has actually dealt with rape victims at first hand, put it succinctly, ‘Rape is being used in the Assange prosecution in the same way that women’s freedom was used to invade Afghanistan’.
“The Swedish authorities quite deliberately leaked evidence and statements to the press, putting this in the public domain, in an effort to blackguard Assange.
“In Britain that would lead to a charge of contempt of court because it would have prejudiced the possibility of a fair trial.
“The two women at the centre of this were more than happy to talk to a journalist at the time and when they jointly went to the police it was not to report a rape. There were no allegations of rape made.
“It is the Swedish prosecutors, having first ruled there was nothing for Assange to answer, who have constructed the case.
“Assange did talk to the police and that was again leaked, as he feared it would be. It is a set-up, with Britain colluding. Has anyone ever been extradited from Britain merely to face questions, rather than charges? I don’t think so.” Full video of Mr Galloway’s podcast can be seen here. The controversial comments begin at minute 21.