Baroness Warsi: We must drain the poison of antisemitism

By Jessica Elgot, November 15, 2011
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Baroness Warsi gave the 2011 European Institute for the Study of Antisemitism Lecture

Baroness Warsi gave the 2011 European Institute for the Study of Antisemitism Lecture

Conservative Party chair Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has called it “abhorrent that some people actually believe that antisemitism does not exist in the world today.”

Speaking at the European Institute for the Study of Antisemitism Lecture at the House of Commons, Baroness Warsi said: “The Jewish people are at once targeted by the far left and the far right.And they are at once branded superior and inferior by those who seek to attack them. It just shows how serious this problem is.

“We must drain the poison of antisemitism from our country. As a Muslim, for me, Islamophobia is personal. But for me, Antisemitism is just as important.

“Only recently a colleague of mine, Mike Freer MP was branded a 'Jewish homosexual pig' when he held a constituency surgery at his local mosque last month. He was attacked by a group formerly known as Muslim Against Crusades, Islam 4 UK, and Al Muhajiroun, a group of hate-filled individuals, whatever name they choose to adopt at any time who attacked me with eggs in Luton and whose leader tried to shout me down on Newsnight for not wearing a face veil.

“My colleague, the Home Secretary banned them last week. My response is even less sympathetic: It’s probably the same response as I gave to their leader, Anjem Choudry, in 2009. If you can’t live by our values, get off our island.”

She paid tribute to the work of Jewish Care and the Community Security Trust in protecting the Jewish community and to the Board of Deputies for standing up against antisemitism, and against Islamophobia, by banning of minarets in Switzerland, condemned the EDL for its anti-Muslim rhetoric and condemned the attack on a mosque in Israel.

“I value my relationship with the Jewish community is because I deeply admire and respect their ongoing fight against bigotry,” she said. “I fundamentally believe no community has had to fight the battle as strongly and for as long as the Jewish community has.

“If we really want to defeat racism and bigotry, if we’re serious about social harmony and if we’re actually going to destroy the scourge of antisemitism in this country, then we need all faiths and none to stand up against it, united.

She called for a closer partnership between Jews and Muslims, “There’s nothing in our history which suggests that hatred between Muslim and Jews is inevitable.

“Instead we should learn from history that there’s a slippery slope with discrimination, when one community is attacked, it’s only a matter of time before another is.”

She also condemned “secular fundamentalism” calling it one of the “biggest threats we face in faith communities. And I am absolutely committed to defeating it.”

Last updated: 1:05pm, November 16 2011