‘Anti-racist’ Amnesty UK says it WILL NOT fire official who called Jews ‘shady’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

‘Anti-racist’ Amnesty UK says it WILL NOT fire official who called Jews ‘shady’

EXCLUSIVE: Human rights group lets its Racial Justice Lead off the hook after 'unreserved apology' over historic social media comments.

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

An Amnesty International UK staff member currently employed as the organisation’s Racial Justice Lead labelled Jews as “shady people” in an incendiary Facebook conversation uncovered by Jewish News.

Ilyas Nagdee, a designated spokesperson for the global human rights group’s UK operation, made the racist remark after offering his thoughts on Orthodox Jews in Bury, Greater Manchester, during an online conversation with a friend.

Responding to an observation by a friend who had said they were “laughin at Jews” but who joked “the Jew might hit me with a walking stick” Nagdee replied:” True. There (sic) shady people.”

Ilyas Nagdee

In a further remark, apparently directed at the dress code adopted by Chasidic Jews, Nadgee also wrote:””Hahahahaha bummmmmmmmm hats.”

Jewish News alerted Amnesty UK to Nagdee’s comments on Wednesday.

In a statement they later confirmed:”“We immediately looked into this matter as soon as we were made aware of it.

“As an anti-racist organisation, we oppose discrimination, racism and hate crime in all their forms, including against Jewish people or people perceived as Jewish.

“Ilyas has explained the circumstances of these comments made when he was 16 years old – he has clearly and unreservedly apologised and we now consider the matter closed.”

Comments made by the Amnesty official

In a separate statement Nagdee said: “This conversation happened in 2010 when I was 16. I was completely wrong to have talked this way and I totally regret doing so.

” Like many people, I’ve been on a journey since my early years and have long opposed all discrimination, racism and hate crime – including all forms of antisemitism. I want to make clear, I unreservedly apologise for these comments from 12 years ago.”

Jewish News had earlier been alerted to Nagdee’s social media conduct in relation to posts made over the past two years on Twitter including a demand for “all Palestinian prisoners” held in Israeli jails to be freed.

Former National Union of Students representative Nagdee told Jewish News he believed Amnesty was a victim of a “smear campaign” led by Israel after a report in published on the Jewish state earlier this month sparked widespread communal outrage.

‘Israel you seem to be lost’

But in Facebook posts shown to Jewish News, the Amnesty employee resorted to making anti-Jewish remarks in a conversation with another individual named Sehar Noreen.

Revealing they were in the town of Bury, Noreen said they were “in the car laughin (sic) at jews and listenin tu (sic) music.”

Noreen then referred to “some funny people walkin (sic) around in furry hats!” – a clear reference to Orthodox Jews.

Nagdee then joked:”Hahahahaha bummmmmmmmm hats.”

After Noreen said:”I know man I want one”, Amnesty’s Nagdee responded by saying:”what you waiting for?”

Ilyas Nagdee’s support for NUS’s BDS policy

Noreen then replied:”The Jew might hit me with his walking stick.”

Nagdee then said:”true True. There (sic) shady people.”

On Wednesday night a senior community source, who was shown the messages, told Jewish News: “Amnesty has a history of employing people with unsavoury views about Jews and makes it impossible to take what they say at face value, especially on issues pertaining to Israel, the one Jewish state. For all its social justice posturing, it shows that when it comes to racism against Jews, we don’t count.”.

Another community leader added “Having someone like this as Amnesty’s Racial Justice Lead is like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse. How could any Jew possibly have faith in this organisation with people such as this in post? And it isn’t a one off.”

On Monday, the Charity Commission confirmed they were assessing whether donations were used to fund Amnesty International’s “apartheid state” report on Israel – and “if so, whether this is of regulatory concern”.

A spokesperson for the Commission said it was “aware” of concerns raised over this matter and “in line with our standard process are currently assessing information to determine if charitable funds have been used to fund the report and, if so, whether this is of regulatory concern. ”

Amnesty International responded by saying: “Amnesty International will be happy to work with the Commission to answer any questions they might have”.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: