Oldham Councillor, Arooj Shah, targeted in arson attack

7/23/2021 11:11 AM
Oldham Councillor, Arooj Shah

Arooj Shah, the first female Muslim representative in Oldham, was targeted in an arson attack as her car was firebombed in the early hours of Tuesday morning. 

Shah was elected as leader of the borough's majority Labour group in the recent elections, serving as the deputy leader since 2018.

While she was not hurt, Shah witnessed her car burning, according to Greater Manchester Police. The GMP also said that emergency services made a response to the fire at around 1:30 am.

“It was established that the vehicle was deliberately ignited, also causing slight damage to a neighbouring property,” said a police spokesman.

“This fire destroyed a vehicle and caused damage to a neighbouring property. It was a reckless, abhorrent act, and it’s fortunate that no one got hurt,” said Detective Chief Inspector Wesley Knights of GMP’s Oldham division in a statement.

“We will not rest until the circumstances around this incident are fully understood, and those responsible brought to justice,” he said, adding: "one person has been arrested, but our investigation remains very much ongoing.”

Meanwhile, a man aged 23 has been arrested and currently remains in custody on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi said: “Sending my best and solidarity to Arooj Shah – no one in politics should ever face this. Hope you are as well as can be.”

“She has the full support of everyone within the Labour family, from her colleagues at Oldham council to MPs across the country,” Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said in a statement. “Arooj has faced disgusting abuse throughout her career as a councillor, and she has always handled it with grace and dignity, but she shouldn’t have to.”

Howard Sykes, leader of the Liberal Democrats at Oldham council, issued a statement saying: “This attack is appalling. It is a frightening attack on an individual, but it also demonstrates the threat to people in public life and stops decent people from being involved in it."

“This cannot be allowed to continue, and not only must we stop this criminal attack, but also the abusive approach that has been too much of the politics in Oldham recently, and the UK, in recent years."

“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, with respect, and with fairness. Abuse and “dog-whistle” politics can have no part in our society.”

Jim McMahon, MP for Oldham West and Royton, said: “My solidarity with Cllr Arooj Shah, who has been targeted in such a cowardly way.

“The full weight of the law must be seen to bring those accountable to book.

“As this is an ongoing investigation, I am limited to what I can say publicly, other than to offer my support and thoughts to Arooj and her family.”