Just a couple of weeks ago, Leicester was host to a series of protests held outside of an unco-operative banking chain that had acted unethically by closing down the bank accounts held by a number of charitable organisations.
The bank in question was the so-called Co-operative Bank, and the targets of the banks unsubstantiated unilateral closures were political groups involved in supporting justice, peace and freedom for Palestinians. Organzations whose accounts have been closed include those belonging to the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and Friends of Al-Aqsa, amongst many others.
So far the Co-operative have refused to engage in any negotiations with the organizations being punished, saying their actions merely represent ‘a business decision’.
However, the fact that the Co-operative Bank has acted in this way at the very moment that the Government is actively ramping up Islamophobia through the escalation of so-called anti-terror programs, like PREVENT, is highly suspect and should be vocally challenged.
Friends of Al-Aqsa chairman, Ismail Patel, has said “We consider this to be institutional bullying and racism, betraying the Co-operative ’s historic ethical foundations.”
Thoughout January, vibrant protests took place across the country, and in Bradford, recently elected Labour MP Naz Shah even made the effort to join the demonstrations.
This is a great start, and here in Leicester our three Labour MPs should take a leaf out of Shah’s book, and join with other concerned residents in contacting the Co-op to request that they reverse their decisions to close the bank accounts of so many important charitable groups.
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on February 2.