Wycombe’s two Muslim pro-Palestine candidates have missed the deadline to withdraw their nominations for the July 4 general election.

Khalil Ahmed of the Workers Party of Britain and Ajaz Rehman – an independent – have both faced calls to exit the race so that the other can take up the mantle of highlighting Israel’s alleged war crimes in Gaza amid its war against Hamas.

However, both men missed the 4pm deadline to pull out last Friday and will consequently have their names listed on the ballot paper in three weeks’ time.

Ahead of the deadline, the candidates had a joint meeting with Shaykh Asrar Rashid, a Birmingham-based Muslim scholar and preacher, who advised that one of them should step aside for the other. The Shaykh has been approached for comment.

Ahmed told the Bucks Free Press: “We did sit down with the Shaykh to have a mediation talk, to consider the timing, credibility, and what would be best going forward. Unfortunately, nothing came as a result of it.”

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Ahmed added that pictures being circulated on social media of him and Rehman with the Shaykh were taken months earlier at a mosque in Birmingham.

The Workers Party candidate also published a video on his Facebook page last week in which he said it was ‘divisive’ and ‘not healthy’ for two candidates both fighting for the Palestinian cause to both running against one another.

He challenged Rehman to a ‘one-on-one public hustings’ to decide who was the better candidate and which one of them should withdraw.

Rehman claimed the Shaykh had offered both men ‘the best’ for the race and said they should campaign ‘in solidarity and set an example to all candidates’.

The independent told the Free Press: “The Shaykh did say if we have the same agenda one candidate would be ideal.

“However, I am standing as an independent and Khalil is standing for the Workers Party. Our vision for the residents of Wycombe do not align.”

Ahmed and Rehman are not the only election candidates in Wycombe to have spoken out about the war in Gaza and the oppression of the Palestinian people.

Liberal Democrat Toni Brodelle has been a consistent advocate for Palestinians in her roles on the council for Christian-Muslim Relations and as a member of both the House of Lords task group on human rights and the Middle East, and Lib Dem Friends of Palestine.

In November, Brodelle attacked her election rivals Steve Baker and Emma Reynolds for initially failing to call for a ceasefire in Gaza amid Israeli air strikes on the enclave in the weeks following the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.

She suggested her Conservative and Labour rivals had ‘blood on their hands’ after they decided not to join her and hundreds of others at a Palestine rally in Wycombe town centre.

The candidates standing in Wycombe in the July 4 election are Steve Baker (Conservative), Emma Reynolds (Labour), Toni Brodelle (Liberal Democrats), Catherine Bunting (Green Party), Khalil Ahmed (Workers Party of Britain), Richard Phoenix (Reform UK), Ed Gemmell (Climate Party), Ajaz Rehman (Independent) and Mark Smallwood (Independent associated with Vote Life).

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