EXCLUSIVE: Tory candidate suspended after refusing to delete Israel condolence post

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EXCLUSIVE: Tory candidate suspended after refusing to delete Israel condolence post

Dr Shadman Zaman, who was standing as in the Bury local election, was asked to remove his Facebook post sending condolences to Israel after 11 people were killed in terror attacks

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Bury Conservatives leader Nick Jones (left) and suspended local election candidate Dr Shadman Zaman
Bury Conservatives leader Nick Jones (left) and suspended local election candidate Dr Shadman Zaman

A Conservative local election candidate who was told to “take down” a social media post in which he expressed his “deepest condolences” to the 11 Israelis killed in terrorist attacks over the past week, has had his candidacy suspended.

Jewish News understands that Dr Shadman Zaman, who was standing as a candidate in Bury, Greater Manchester, was told to “take down” his Facebook post on Wednesday by the local Conservative Group’s leader.

On Thursday Zaman said he had been suspended as an election candidate by the local party.

Zaman, who was seeking election in the Besses ward, posted that a “third terrorist attack in a week” had “killed 11 innocent Israelis” and sent his “deepest condolences” to the “families and friends of the victims”.

Sources claimed to Jewish News that Bury Conservatives leader Nick Jones had sent a WhatsApp message to Zaman which stated: “Shadman can this be taken down. We need to keep local.”

But Jones later told Jewish News he had “categorically not told candidates they cannot post pro-Israel sentiments,” but admitted he had told them to “focus on the local election”.

Referring to Zaman, Jones added: “The candidate in question for Besses was advised that all social media would need to be approved by the Agent as per our group rules and has failed to do this.“

Zaman who hails from Bangladesh, has previously revealed himself to be a “proud pro-Israel activist”.

He refused to comment on the matter after he was contacted, other than to confirm he would not be taking his pro-Israel Facebook post down.

But a friend said: “Dr Zaman is surprised to say the least that he was asked to take the post down from his Facebook page.

“He understands that he is a local election candidate who should be focusing on issues that effect the electorate.

“But he has made no secret of his support for the state of Israel in the past, and wanted to express his sympathies to those affected by the terror attacks over the past few days that have taken place there.”

In 2017 Zaman was the first visitor to Israel on a Bangladeshi passport, and at the time he said he was inspired by his grandfather, whom he described as one of the earliest Bangladeshi Zionists.

Cllr Jones, who has represented the local Pilkington Park ward since 2018, became leader of the Bury Conservatives Group in 2020, after the previous leader James Daly became MP for Bury North.

Jones is standing again in Pilkington Park in the May local election, with Michael Rubenstein, the Board of Deputies Whitefield Hebrew Congregation representative, standing for Labour.

He told Jewish News: “As Conservative Group Leader I have told candidates to focus on the local election – the Conservatives Plan for Bury.

“I have categorically not told candidates they cannot post pro-Israel sentiments. However, I have made clear that the social media must be local about the Conservatives plan to deliver a cleaner, greener, safer borough. “

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