Birmingham general election hopeful joked about domestic violence on podcast

<span>Akhmed Yakoob during his West Midlands mayoral election campaign in May.</span><span>Photograph: Fabio De Paola/The Guardian</span>
Akhmed Yakoob during his West Midlands mayoral election campaign in May.Photograph: Fabio De Paola/The Guardian

An independent candidate standing in Birmingham said “70% of hell will be women” and joked about domestic violence on a podcast earlier this year, it has emerged, as polling suggests he is closing the gap with Labour.

Akhmed Yakoob, who came third in the West Midlands mayoral election in May with just over 10% of the vote, is standing against Labour’s Shabana Mahmood in Ladywood, one of the most deprived constituencies in the country.

The latest prediction from Electoral Calculus put him on 31%, with Mahmood on 37%, and Labour is reportedly diverting resources to the seat to rally more voters.

In March, Yakoob appeared on an episode of the Minted Minds podcast, hosted by the Birmingham-based entrepreneur Abdhul Zaman.

Other guests on the episode included Shakeel Afsar, who is running as an independent candidate in Hall Green and was one of the lead protesters in the row over LGBTQ+ equality teaching in Birmingham schools in 2019; Dr Asif Munaf, a former Apprentice contestant recently suspended by the General Medical Council pending an investigation of allegedly antisemitic social media posts; and the Coventry-based restaurant owners Mohammed “Sunny” Sarnwal and Waqas “Vic” Mohammed.

The podcast episode was advertised as an “emergency meeting” of “influential voices” to talk about Palestine, but over the course of the two-hour conversation the subject turned to masculinity and women.

Munaf said the majority of followers of Dajjaal – a false messiah or liar in Islam – would be women who had been “empowered”, and Yakoob agreed, saying that “70% of hell is going to be women”. One of the guests can be heard saying: “We don’t want to get cancelled.”

Later, during a discussion about women making money by dancing on TikTok, Mohammed said: “Getting back to masculinity, I personally would give her a backhander. I’m not joking.”

Shakeel responded: “We do not advocate any physical violence against anyone.” Sarnwal said: “He’s right, though, what he’s saying.”

Yakoob, a criminal law solicitor since 2014, then said to Mohammed: “Brother, are you saying if she comes up in your personal space, you will defend yourself?” – a reference to defence arguments employed by lawyers – prompting loud laughter from the other guests.

One of the men quoted Yakoob’s tagline, used in his YouTube videos about legal issues. “There’s a defence for every offence, bro,” he says, prompting more laughter.

Although the comments did not make it into the final cut published by Minted Minds, a full unedited version of the conversation has been posted online. All six men who appeared on the podcast have been contacted for comment.

Jess Phillips, the former shadow domestic violence minister, said: “I have handled many cases of domestic abuse in Birmingham, and the women beaten and raped weren’t laughing.

“These attitudes have no place in our democracy. He should explain to the 50% of constituents in Ladywood who are women – and all the decent men too – how they can possibly trust he will work for them when he is sharing these awful views.”

Yakoob is campaigning largely on the issue of Palestine, with posters calling on people to “lend their vote to Gaza”. He has also sought to capitalise on dissatisfaction with mainstream parties, saying a win for him would mean “independence from the political elites”.

He has vowed to donate his entire MP’s salary to the local community if elected, push to end the two-child benefit limit and expand free school meals.

Prior to his involvement in politics, most of Yakoob’s social media content centred on legal advice. On TikTok, he has 195,000 followers and nearly 5m likes. He has also posted videos defending Andrew Tate, the self-professed “misogynist influencer” facing trial in Romania over human trafficking allegations, saying he believes he is not guilty and is a victim of “an agenda by the higher powers”.

“I like the way he talks, to be fair, because I’ve not heard him say anything wrong,” he said in a video posted in June last year.

Yakoob caused controversy during his campaign by posting a video with subtitles alleging that a Labour activist had used a racial slur when canvassing, triggering a hate campaign towards her. He later apologised when it emerged that the captions were incorrect.

Podcast transcript:

Dr Asif Munaf: From a Muslim point of view, Dajjaal and all this, we know the majority of his followers will be women. If you empower women so much, when they start following him, society will start following him as well.

Akhmed Yakoob: 70% of hell is going to be women.

Speaker off camera: We don’t want to get cancelled!


Yakoob: Look, as I said, I’ve got nothing against women, I love women, (men laugh and Sarnwal says: “Yeah, I bet you do”) I love my wife. But everyone has got a role in society, everyone has got a role in the household. In my household, I’m the man, I’m the king. I call the shots, and my Mrs, Alhamdulillah, listens to me and is appreciative.

Munaf: Because women want men. Women want men.

Yakoob: Women want real men who go out and provide so she can be the queen, and she can look after the children and look after our kids, the household as well.


Yakoob: How much can you lower your gaze? If any one of us was to come with our wife who is tarted up to the nines, it’s natural for a male to look at her and think: “She looks all right.”

Munaf: And if you don’t, you’re not a man, you’re a eunuch.

Yakoob: It’s natural for men to be attracted to females, so keep our queens at home.


Sarnwal: The mothers need to worry about their daughters. Because if she is dressing like a slut, your daughter is going to dress like a slut. The man needs to understand his daughter is going to be the production of his wife. So if he doesn’t control his wife, how is he going to make sure his daughter is safe?


Mohammed [talking about women making money from TikTok]: Getting back to masculinity, I personally would give her a backhander. I’m not joking.

Afsar: We do not advocate any physical violence against anyone.

Sarnwal: He’s right though, what he’s saying.

Yakoob: Brother, are you saying if she comes up in your personal space you will defend yourself?

Sarnwal: If she throws a punch, you can defend yourself.

Off camera, one of the men quotes Yakoob’s tagline: There’s a defence for every offence, bro.