Tory councillor previously accused of ‘abhorrent antisemitism’ welcomed at Downing St

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Tory councillor previously accused of ‘abhorrent antisemitism’ welcomed at Downing St

EXCLUSIVE: Party chairman Greg Hands invites councillor Ishfaq Hussain, who was also pictured recently with prime minister Rishi Sunak, to Number 10

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Cllr Isfaq Hussain, Tory chair Greg Hands, and Peterborough MP Paul Bristow outside Downing Street.
Cllr Isfaq Hussain, Tory chair Greg Hands, and Peterborough MP Paul Bristow outside Downing Street.

A Conservative councillor, previously suspended for social media posts that were branded “abhorrent and antisemitic” by the Jewish Leadership Council, has been invited to an event at Downing Street by party chairman Greg Hands.

Councillor Ishfaq Hussain, who once posted the claim “Jews in Israel are not true Jews” on Facebook, wrote on 28 March 28 of his “wonderful evening” at No.10 after attending an iftar event with his “friend” the Peterborough MP Paul Bristow.

Tory chairman Hands, MP Bristow and Cllr Hussain were photographed standing together outside Downing Street on the evening of the event.

Hussain, who represents Peterborough’s Dogsthorpe ward, was welcomed back by Peterborough Conservatives last year after apologising for a succession of inflammatory posts, was last week also photographed alongside prime minister Rishi Sunak on April 5th, during a campaigning session ahead of next month’s local elections.

Posting a photograph of himself next to the prime minister on social media, Hussain wrote:”Out canvassing in Dogsthorpe with a special visit from PM Rishi Sunak today.”

Suspended from the Tory Party in April 2020, as well as claiming Jewish people living in Israel were not “true Jews”, Hussain also posted on Facebook that Israel is part of a “Zionist trilogy” alongside America and Saudi Arabia which “breed terrorists”.

He had also previously turned his profile picture into an image with the caption: “This person does not recognise the State of Israel,” while claiming that “Zionism is one of the worst afflictions on the world” and that “the Zionists with the help of the UK and America have already occupied 85 per cent of Palestine.”

Hussain called for Jerusalem to be made the capital of Palestine to “stop more bloodshed, genocide by the Zionists and to uphold basic human rights,” adding that “under Zionist rule… freedom of practising ones faith is under threat”.

After viewing Hussain’s posts the JLC issued a statement branding them “abhorrent and antisemitic.”

Despite his record of inflammatory comments, Jewish News revealed in January last year that Hussain had been allowed back into the party after apologising for his past remarks.

He said at the time:”I deeply regret that my frustration at events in Israel and Palestine led me to suggest otherwise.

“At times in the past I reacted irresponsibly on social media. My comments at those moments do not reflect my settled view.”

Jewish News understands that following a lengthy suspension pending investigation, Cllr Hussain was given a further three-month suspension and made to complete training, after which his suspension was lifted.

The MP Bristow has had a long association with Cllr Hussain, and after attending last month’s event at Downing Street with him he praised “Ishy” as a “great guy and a brilliant ambassador for Peterborough”  in a gushing Facebook post.

Bristow wrote:”Tonight I went to an iftar at Number 10 Downing Street with Cllr Ishfaq Hussain and our party chairman Greg Hands.

“Ishy is a great guy and a brilliant ambassador for Peterborough and the Muslim community in our city.

“Kindness, charity, forgiveness, honesty, patience, justice, respecting parents and elders, and keeping promises.”

Asked to comment on the decision to invite Cllr Hussain to last month’s Downing Street event, a Tory Party spokesperson told Jewish News:”The Conservative Party does not tolerate racism of any kind.

“We take all complaints very seriously and have an established code of conduct and formal processes to ensure complaints can be made in confidence.”

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