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Tom Watson hits back over Muslim rally accusation

Sandwell | | Published:

Labour's Tom Watson has rubbished claims that he took part in a Muslim election rally that segregated men and women.

Senior party figures, including Liam Byrne, Jack Dromey and Khalid Mahmood spoke at the event in Hodge Hill on Saturday.

They were criticised after photographs were posted online that appeared to show men and women sat separately.

Mr Watson, who is defending West Bromwich East, told the Express & Star: "It's nonsense. It wasn't segregated."

And Mr Mahmood, who is standing to be MP for Perry Bar, added: "I was happy to support the event. It wasn't as segregated as people are making out. The photo has been taken out of context.

"Nobody was told to sit anywhere. It just happened that men and women sat separately – but what the photo doesn't show is there were women and men together at the back.

'What people need to understand is that this part of a process of engaging with Muslim women and this was the start of that. It is about giving women in some communities the confidence to engage.

"People can say what they like. In 2010 I went to rallies where there were no women at all."

The event took place in the Diamond Suite two miles from Birmingham city centre. Former Tory MP and author Louise Mensch tweeted a picture of the event, adding: "Dear Ed Miliband – this isn't what a feminist looks like. Labour segregation at your hustings. Freedom of religion allows churches and others to segregate; a secular political event not religious. Unacceptable."

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