UK Imam Who Asked Question During Conservative Leadership Debate Suspended Over Antisemitic Tweets
A UK imam who asked a pointed question about Islamophobia during a televised Conservative party leadership debate on Tuesday has been suspended from a mosque and school after it was revealed that he had posted antisemitic tweets.
Abdullah Patel asked the five candidates for the party leadership about Islamophobia and whether “words had consequences.” This was widely considered a dig at front-runner Boris Johnson, who has made controversial statements about Islam in the past.
The question became a much-discussed moment in the media, and Patel subsequently appeared on a BBC Radio program on Wednesday.
Shortly after, however, it was revealed that Patel had published antisemitic tweets.
In one, referring to Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, considered by many British Jews to be an antisemite, Patel wrote, “Every Political figure on the Zionist’s payroll is scaring the world about Corbyn. They don’t like him. He seems best suited to tackle them!”
In a second tweet, Patel posted an image showing the shape of Israel in the center of the United States — a popular anti-Israel meme — and wrote, “FOUND THE SOLUTION! America wants to look after Israel? I’ve got a way to make them neighbours! (Until Israel attack).”
It was also revealed that Patel had posted a misogynist tweet, writing, “Generally men are the predators, but women need to realise this and be smarter. It takes two to tango, and if you put yourself in that position, don’t expect every man to pass up the opportunity to take advantage of you. Don’t be alone with a man!”
According to The Guardian, the Al-Ashraf school, where Patel is deputy headteacher, said it was suspending Patel pending an investigation. It also repudiated his antisemitic statements.
The Masjid Umar mosque, where Patel serves as an imam, said that it had “chosen to give him some time away” and had also launched a probe into the matter.
One of the candidates who appeared in the debate, Sajid Javid, tweeted, “The Imam from #BBCOurNextPM debate should practice what he preaches. Words do indeed have consequences. That applies to him as much as it does for leaders in public life.”
Nicky Campbell, the host of the BBC show on which Patel appeared, also weighed in, tweeting, “I would like to apologise. We had the Imam from the BBC Tory leadership debate on our programme this morning. His social media comments have been extremely disturbing. We should have checked. We didn’t. I’m sorry.”
The BBC, however, defended allowing Patel to ask a question during the debate, saying that his Twitter account was not active during the vetting process, and the network could not have known about his antisemitic and misogynist posts.