UK Lib Dems suspend candidate over ‘virulent anti-Semitism’ claims
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UK Lib Dems suspend candidate over ‘virulent anti-Semitism’ claims

Ashuk Ahmed, awarded a Queen’s honor, shared post saying Islamic State horrors created by ‘Jewish media and their gentile pawns’

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Parliamentary candidate Ashuk Ahmed, suspended by the UK Liberal Democrat Party on April 25 after anti-Semitic social media posts were exposed.  (YouTube screenshot)
Parliamentary candidate Ashuk Ahmed, suspended by the UK Liberal Democrat Party on April 25 after anti-Semitic social media posts were exposed. (YouTube screenshot)

Britain’s Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday suspended a candidate for the upcoming general election after an anti-Semitism watchdog exposed evidence of what it called “the most virulent anti-Semitism” in his old social media posts.

Ashuk Ahmed, 51, who was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honors in 2009 for services to young people, was due to contest the heavily Muslim Luton South seat, northwest of London, until the Daily Mail published evidence Tuesday gathered by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism showing that Ahmed had shared anti-Semitic posts including conspiracy theories about Islamic State being a Jewish invention.

A Liberal Democrat spokesman told the Daily Mail, “You sent us the email with the screenshots at 11:55 and we suspended Mr Ahmed at 11:56.”

“Mr Ahmed’s utterances have no place in the party. We believe in a politics that is open, tolerant and united.”

Ahmed declined to comment to the newspaper.

The posts reportedly claimed IS horrors were created by “the Jewish media and their gentile pawns” to “justify more slaughter,” that “Zionists control half the world,” and that the rival Conservative and Labour parties were controlled by “Zionist paymasters.”

Comparing Jews to Nazis, Ahmed also reportedly shared a video by an extreme anti-Semitic organization claiming that the Jewish Ashkenazi “tribe” is taking over the US, and posted a picture of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a bloodied mouth, feasting on a child. The picture echoed the medieval anti-Semitic blood libel, according to which Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood in Passover rituals.

On its website, the CAA said Ahmed removed the materials when he discovered that he had been reported to police, but that screenshots of his “hate filled pages” had been saved by the organization.

It released a statement received from Chief Superintendent David Boyle from Bedfordshire Police that said, “A police investigation was launched into reports of the sharing of antisemitic posts on Mr Ahmed’s Facebook page, but no criminal offences were found to have been committed.”

Liberal Democratic Party leader Tim Farron answers questions from journalists at a campaign event in London on April 24, 2017, in the build-up to the UK general election on June 8th. AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLIS
Liberal Democratic Party leader Tim Farron answers questions from journalists at a campaign event in London on April 24, 2017, in the build-up to the UK general election on June 8th. AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLIS

The CAA also said it had been told that Crown Prosecution Service lawyers had been unable to charge Ahmed because he had not written the materials himself but merely shared them.

“This appears to be another example of CPS lawyers failing to comprehend the law on antisemitism; it is of course a criminal offence to distribute antisemitic material written by others,” the CAA said.

“The Party only moved to suspend Ahmed when Campaign Against Antisemitism exposed him in the Daily Mail. This is outrageous and we call on the Liberal Democrats to expel him from the Party and send a clear message that their party is not a safe place for anti-Semites,” it said.

In September, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told the London Jewish Chronicle that his party would provide a “warm home” for Jews who had been alienated by the rival Labour Party’s ongoing anti-Semitism crisis.

Joe Glasman, Head of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism‘s Political and Government Investigations. (YouTube screenshot)
Joe Glasman, Head of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism‘s Political and Government Investigations. (YouTube screenshot)

Joe Glasman, Head of the CAA’s Political and Government Investigations, said: “Ashuk Ahmed has posted repugnant, anti-Semitic material online, for which he was interviewed by police. Yet he has been made an MBE, has been appointed to a powerful police advisory group, and has been selected to stand as the Liberal Democrat candidate.

“His anti-Semitic posts are no secret. It beggars belief that we have to ask a political party and a police force not to appoint people like Mr Ahmed to positions of power.”

Baroness Jenny Tonge (screen capture: YouTube)
Baroness Jenny Tonge (screen capture: YouTube)

In October, a former Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for the heavily Jewish Hendon constituency quit the party over what he saw as insufficient action against controversial Lib Dem peer, Baroness Jenny Tonge.

Tonge, first suspended by the party’s group in the Lords in 2012 for what were perceived as her anti-Semitic comments, resigned from the party in October 2016.

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