A Labour Councillor has been suspended after claiming there is “no factual basis whatsoever for a Jewish race, nation or homeland”.
Tower Hamlets official Puru Miah has been ‘administratively suspended’, the Labour Party has confirmed, as it investigates a claim of antisemitism. He issued a statement on Saturday saying “I unreservedly apologise for the hurt caused” and that he is “embarrassed” by what he wrote.
This comes after the Equality and Human Rrights Commission found evidence of “unlawful acts harassment and discrimination” as well as “political interference” in cases of antisemitism within the party.
Miah shared a post on Facebook in 2014, which said: “‘The invention of the Jewish people’ by Israeli historian Shlomo Sand'” was an “absolutely ‘must read’ for everyone who wants truth and justice for Palestine/Israel.
“The essential historical evidence will amaze you – there is no factual basis whatsoever for a Jewish race, nation or homeland, it is all a recently invented propaganda called ‘Zionism’.”
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”
The councillor also shared posts on his Facebook page appearing on the Muslim news site 5 Pillars, alongside its editor Roshan Salih.
Salih caused outrage in the Jewish community after saying an interfaith Mitzvah Day chicken soup cook-a-thon was ‘Zionist infiltration’. He also called for a boycott of an exhibition on Muslim heroes of the Holocaust, and previously hosted Ken Livingstone on Holocaust Memorial Day, where he asked him if the Shoah had been ‘exploited to oppress others’?
Puru Miah issued a statement in response to request for comment, in which he said: “I unreservedly apologise for the hurt caused. Looking back at the post, I am embarrassed, given the current context of anxieties in the Jewish community.”
He said: “The situation filled me with regret and I have removed the private Facebook post.”
“It falls far below the standards expected of a Labour Councillor”, he added, claiming to have rejoined the Labour Party in 2015 “at the encouragement of a prominent Jewish member who describes himself as a Zionist”.
He said: “I welcome the complaint and defend the rights of complainants.
“I look forward to this matter being investigated and resolved through an independent complaint’s procedure as recommended by the EHRC.”
Miah said “the quote in the post was a comic and gross trivialisation of the book, it inevitably appears stupid and offensive.”
He however defended appearing on 5Pillars’ site, saying he did so “following the scathing report on Islamophobia in the Labour Party, published by the Muslim Labour Network.
“I agreed to attend precisely because I disagree with Roshan, especially when he says,“I personally think Muslims should leave the Labour Party”.
Miah said “no complaints have been upheld against 5pillarsuk”, which is a member of IMPRESS, Independent Monitor for the Press.
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