Jewish community leaders have joined a chorus of condemnation of Spectator columnist Rod Liddle after he suggested planning elections for a time when Muslims cannot vote.
In an article headlined “If you do one thing this election, stop your kids voting”, Mr Liddle wrote: “My own choice of election date would be a day when universities are closed and Muslims are forbidden to do anything on pain of hell, or something.
“There must be at least one day like that in the Muslim calendar, surely? That would deliver at least 40 seats to the Tories, I reckon.”
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl criticised Liddle, saying: “This is not just hate speech, it is an affront to democracy to speak about disenfranchising whole groups like this. Well done to TellMama for calling this out.”
Meanwhile, Rabbi Charley Baginsky of Liberal Judaism added: ‘We stand in solidarity with those targeted in Rod Liddle’s latest Spectator column. His words are islamaphobic and misogynist. Liberal Judaism unequivocally, and will always, condemn this language and hatred.”
Also adding his criticism was chancellor Sajid Javid, who is of Muslim heritage, and who said: “Not clear if the Rod Liddle comment is supposed to be a joke – but it’s not funny and not acceptable,” he tweeted.
“No community in our country should be put down that way.”
The Spectator’s assistant editor Isabel Hardman also said she “profoundly disagrees” with Mr Liddle‘s piece and was “hugely upset” by it, adding she has “nothing to do” with pieces in the magazine except those she writes herself.
Joining the chorus of condemnations, the National Theatre said it would take Liddle’s column into account when reviewing publications with which to advertise.
“We have no further adverts planned with The Spectator, but this column, which was very much at odds with our organisational values, will be taken into account in our regular review of the places we advertise,” it tweeted on Sunday.
Responding to his critics Liddle wrote in a blog on the Spectator website on Friday afternoon, claiming his words had been taken “out of context”.
“There was no hate speech or Islamophobia whatsoever in my piece,” he wrote.
“It was a very light-hearted series of suggestions about when to hold an election, based upon the silly dispute over the proposed dates for the election.
“They were very obviously ludicrous suggestions, satirical in manner, about how to reduce the Labour vote by targeting groups which traditionally vote Labour and occasioned by the wrangling over whether the election should be on December 9 or 12 and the reasons for that wrangling.”