A Muslim community activist who urged candidates for the Manchester mayoralty to fight against racism sent a string of anti-Semitic messages, including comparing Israel to the Nazis.
Dr Siema Iqbal participated in a conference organised by Citizens UK (CUK) in May, which asked mayoral candidates to commit to a series of proposals, including action on hate crime.
However, following the inaugural Greater Manchester Citizens Assembly, it emerged that Iqbal sent disparaging tweets about Jews and Israel around the time of the 2014 Gaza War.
Iqbal, who Citizens UK say has “a reputation for promoting inter-faith dialogue” retweeted one message which said: “Truce in Gaza? Don’t you believe it! the Jews are shipping around for cheaper bombs”. Another reportedly compared Israel’s actions to the Nazis, reading: “When a people who survived a genocide use it as an excuse to commit genocide”, against a backdrop of a blood-stained Star of David.
According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition of anti-Semitism, which the UK government agreed to adopt in December 2016, comparing Israel to the Nazis is anti-Semitic.
Other messages she sent included a post calling for the relocation of Israel to the United States as a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. This is similar to a Facebook post that led to the suspension of Labour MP Naz Shah over allegations of anti-Semitism, in April 2016.
Following the emergence of the offensive social media posts, Citizens UK “wholeheartedly condemns” the messages, despite Iqbal having apologised.
They add, that they “readily see how this has caused offence and apologise for any hurt that has been caused, particularly to the Jewish community with whom CUK has a long-established working relationship, just as we do with the UK’s Muslim and Christian communities.
The Jewish Leadership Council’s North West External Affairs Manager Marc Levy participated in the Assembly, and said the event was “a tremendous success”, but condemned Iqbal’s remarks.
Levy was asked to speak about the effect of anti-Semitism on the Jewish community, before Dr Siema Iqbal read a pledge asking candidates to tackle hate crime.
Speaking to the Jewish News, the JLC say: “On the face of it, Dr Iqbal has a reputation of championing interfaith dialogue. However, it has subsequently transpired that Dr Iqbal has tweeted and retweeted a series of openly anti-Semitic tweets. The JLC completely condemns these tweets.”
“Dr Iqbal has finally issued a statement where she purports to make an apology which we think is insufficient. This is notwithstanding the fact that to the best of our knowledge, the Jewish community has never received any form of apology from Dr Iqbal.”
“CUK have confirmed to the JLC that at this time Dr Iqbal will not be asked to speak at any forthcoming events.”