Clegg: Tragedy that “communities set up against each other”

Clegg: Tragedy that “communities set up against each other”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told LBC radio that it is a ‘tragedy’ that there is both rising anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred and violence in the UK.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has called for the suspension of arms export licenses to Israel.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg

Clegg told LBC: “just as incidents of violence, discrimination, hatred even, appear to be on the rise against members of our Jewish communities up and down the country, there are also incidents of anti-Muslim hatred and violence increasing.”

“This is the terrible thing, that at a time of great international tension and violence and all the other worries that people have, you get communities set up against each other.”

“We all need to work with organisations such as the CST to say loud and clear that, in this country, everybody is equal before the law … people should be able to maintain their traditions in a way that allows people to co-exist peacefully.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “This important report must serve as a warning to everyone to do more to stop anti-Semitism in Britain. This rise in anti-Semitism is appalling and completely unacceptable.

“The Community Security Trust do vital work to protect and provide security for the Jewish community. We must support them not only to raise the profile of this issue, but also to ensure continued close working with the police so that hate crimes can be investigated and prosecuted and communities can be kept safe.

“But more also needs to be done to stop prejudice and hatred in the first place – from promoting common values in schools and communities, to getting companies like Twitter to take stronger action against hate crimes on their platforms, challenging those who use foreign policy to spread discrimination and hostility, and renewing determination to tackle both Islamist and far right extremism.”

Mr Clegg denied that comments by one of his own Liberal Democrat MPs were anti-semitic. Bradford East MP David Ward was suspended from the Lib Dems in 2013 after describing Israel as an apartheid state, and has since faced criticism for saying that the presence of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the Paris march following the Charlie Hebdo murders made him “sick”.

But the Lib Dem leader said: “When he, for instance, made the most crass, offensive remark about the Prime Minister of Israel being in Paris … I thought it was daft, but I don’t think it is racist.

“I am quite punctilious about this – if you start saying that, every time someone says something that someone finds offensive, that is racist, you blur the distinction between racially motivated hatred or racism and what is just offensive free speech.”

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