Police probe ‘anti-Semitic’ heckling of Naz Shah for defending Israel’s existence

Police probe ‘anti-Semitic’ heckling of Naz Shah for defending Israel’s existence

Authorities investigate after a hustings audience member shouts 'Jew, Jew, Jew' at the Labour politician, after she said Israel had a right to exist

Naz Shah
Naz Shah

An anti-Semitic “hate incident” at an election hustings in Bradford West has been reported to police by event organisers after a man allegedly shouted “Jew, Jew, Jew” at candidates.

The shouts were audible on a live video of the hustings filmed by community group JUST Yorkshire, and came after Labour candidate Naseem Shah re-iterated her support for “Israel’s right to exist” at the event on Wednesday May 31.

She had been asked by a hustings attendee to clarify her position “on Zionism”.

“I didn’t hear it at the time because the heckling was so bad,” Ms Shah told the Press Association. “But I have seen the video now, I’ve heard it with my own ears and I’m glad it has been reported as a hate incident.”

“There was a lot of misogyny in that room,” she added. “It wasn’t a nice experience.”

Police have confirmed they are looking into the incident.

Following the incident, a spokesperson for the Jewish Labour Movement  told Jewish News: “Naz Shah has proven a steadfast ally against antisemitism. Her courageous defence of Israel’s right to exist reflects the journey she undertaken. We are appalled at the abuse she faced, and stand in solidarity with her.”

Michaela Vyse, Yorkshire and East Coast Regional Manager at the Jewish Leadership Council said: “We’re disappointed and saddened to see that at the hustings in Bradford West, the term “Jew” was used as an abusive term towards a candidate. We’re  very disappointed to see this take part in a debate in Yorkshire.”

Nadeem Murtuja, chair of JUST Yorkshire, which organised the hustings, said in a statement: “JUST Yorkshire condemns every form of hate, racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

“If I had heard the comment on the night of the hustings, we would have immediately brought an end to the proceedings.”

Mr Murtuja added that JUST Yorkshire will “fully co-operate with the authorities to identify the perpetrator”.

Aisha Ali-Khan, a teacher and activist from Bradford, attended the hustings and reported the incident on Twitter when she heard the shouts.

“I was absolutely horrified,” she said, “and people on social media have asked me why I didn’t speak to anyone at the time.”

She said she was shocked but “apprehensive” as a number of other Twitter users claimed to have heard no such thing at the event.

JUST Yorkshire, Ms Shah and Ms Ali-Khan all confirmed they could hear the shouts on reviewing the footage.

“I find it appalling that this kind of conduct still takes place,” Ms Ali-Khan added.

Watch the video clip on Twitter here: 

Ms Shah became MP for Bradford West in 2015, after defeating the incumbent, Respect party leader George Galloway, in the polls.

Both Galloway and the now-disbanded Respect party have been accused of anti-Semitism in the past.

Salma Yaqoob, who was previously leader of the Respect party but is now standing for election in Bradford West as an independent candidate, did not respond to requests for comment.

Ms Shah said she would “leave the police to do their job”, and added: “I continue to highlight the plight of the Palestinian people, I continue to condemn the illegal Israeli settlements and I stand by my position.

“But the fundamental thing is that we need a two-state solution and we are supporting a two-state solution.”

A spokesman from West Yorkshire Police said: “On 2 June, police in Bradford received a report of a hate incident. Inquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances.”

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