Anti-Israel protestors 'bullied' me, claims Welsh politician

Demonstrators accused Natasha Asghar of supporting 'genocide' after she resisted calls for a Gaza ceasefire


A Welsh Conservative politician has condemned anti-Israel student protesters' attempts to "bully" her after she voted against a Gaza ceasefire.

Natasha Asghar, the Senedd's shadow minister for transport and technology, visited Cardiff University to speak to the politics society on Monday.

During her talk, a group began banging on the door and chanting accusations that she supported "genocide".

Videos seen by the JC show anti-Israel students standing in a corridor shouting: "shame on you" and "from the river to the sea Palestine will be free".

In one clip posted online, Ashgar can be seen arguing with a student about whether a ceasefire should be agreed as protesters chant outside.

Last week, the politician voted against a Welsh Senedd motion tabled by Plaid Cymru demanding an immediate halt to the conflict.

The motion, which passed with the support of Plaid Cymru and some Labour members, condemned, "the Israeli government's indiscriminate attacks on Gaza, resulting in the death of thousands of innocent."

Welsh Tory MS Darren Miller tabled an amendment to the motion which proposed that the word ‘ceasefire’ was removed from the motion and the term ‘suspension of hostilities’ was used instead. However, this was rejected.

In a statement, Asghar said: "Whilst I accept people have the right to protest, the scenes which unfolded at Cardiff University last night were totally unacceptable, and I am deeply troubled to see some of those protesters painting a very one-sided view on social media.

"Chanting all sorts of hateful messages including calling me a 'murderer', ramming doors to try to gain access to the room I was in, and pounding on the walls from start to finish is absolutely uncalled for."

Most of the students attending her talk, she said, were there because they wanted to learn about her role as a member of the Welsh Parliament.

"Despite repeated attempts to explain my point of view following last week's vote, and answer their questions, many of the protesters simply would not listen and engage and instead continued disrupting the event because they didn't like my answers," Ashgar claimed.

"I am not prepared to be bullied and intimidated into not attending important events like these, and I would like to say a huge thank you to my team, the police and the university's security team for keeping me safe."

Adam Johannes from campaign group Cardiff Stop the War Coalition, told the BBC: "Students picketed the meeting outside to show the level of anger, many also attended the talk to challenge the Tory politician."

He added: "Polls show that the majority of people in Britain favour an immediate ceasefire, but the majority of politicians want the slaughter to continue."

Jonathan Hunter, trustee of The Pinsker Centre, said: "It is tragic that we have now arrived at a situation where politicians speaking on subjects totally unrelated to the Gaza conflict are now the object of extreme vitriol and intimidating behaviour fuelled by an obsession with Israel."

A Cardiff University spokesperson said: "We are aware of a protest at a Student Society event held last night [Monday 13th November].

"University security were in attendance. In response, we will review the night's events and adapt our procedures, if necessary. It is important to stress that universities are places where a range of ideas can be considered, examined and dissected both in academic programmes and in the wider University life.

"This means differing views can be brought forward and listened to. As a result, we will continue to take all reasonable steps to ensure that - within the law - freedom of speech is secured on our campus."

South Wales Police said officers attended after reports of a protest, but no arrests were made.

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