The new mayor of Hounslow who was elected on a promise to “diffuse community tensions” has apologised for a past comment on YouTube in which he appeared to equate the actions of Israel with those of Adolf Hitler.
Councillor Nisar Malik, the borough’s first Muslim mayor, became the latest Labour politician to become embroiled in the ongoing row over anti-Semitism this week, only a year after he was elected.
Cllr Malik, who runs a string of halal counters at branches of supermarket Asda, said sorry after being confronted with a past comment in response to a 2012 video of a Jewish woman raising concerns with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We all should stand up and voice out whenever there is injustice, whether it’s done by Hitler or state of Israel to Palestinian,” he wrote. “Please speak out now. No more human rights in Gaza or West Bank.”
This week, he said: “I unreservedly apologise for any offence I may have caused. The opinion that I sought to convey was that people should stand up to any and all injustices; but I recognise that I may have upset people with my choice of words.”
Last year, newly-elected Malik told fellow councillors: “There’s a little bit of work needed from both sides [Muslims and non-Muslims] to defuse the pressure, which comes largely from misunderstanding.”
He added: “By mixing, talking and engaging with each other I believe we can achieve that and make this borough an even better place in which to live. My message to all communities would be [if] don’t tolerate so much you start tolerating intolerance. As Muslims, we tolerate some things we shouldn’t be tolerating, and other communities tolerate things they shouldn’t be tolerating.”