From The Times.
Concern that voters are at risk of religious intimidation is growing after Muslims were urged to back a candidate blessed by the Prophet Mohammed’s living descendant.
This is alleged in the constituency of Pendle Lancashire, no longer inhabited by formidible witches but by a large Muslim community. The Labour candidate is Azhar Ali, a councillor and prominent Muslim; the Conservative candidate is Andrew Stephenson. A test message is being circulated on WhatsApp which says
“We were requested by Mr Azhar Ali to request blessings and prayer from the World Renown[ed] Sufi Master” Sheikh Mohammed Adil Haqqani and from his brother Sheikh Bahauddin…Mr Azhar Ali has the full support and dua [prayers] and with the blessings of our Mashaykh [religious leader] we request everyone who possibly can please make the effort to vote Mr Azhar Ali. (Spread the message) to unite to bring goodness, and unity among the Pendle community.”
The Sheikhs are believed to be descendants of Mohammed. They deny endorsing the Labour candidate.The Labour candidate denys any knowledge. The texts were issued just before postal votes were sent out. The Constituency is one that is causing the Electoral Commission concern due to a high rate of previous electoral fraud.
The discovery comes after a judge unseated an elected mayor — Lutfur Rahman from Tower Hamlets in east London — for intimidating Muslims by saying that it was their religious duty to vote for him. If the text messages in the Lancashire constituency were found to constitute unlawful “spiritual influence”, they could lead to a criminal investigation. Any victory by Labour could be challenged in the High Court, which would need to be satisfied only that the message was organised by the candidate’s campaigners and that it had affected the result.