Anti-racism campaigners refuse to attend Parliament Square antisemitism rally over 'Islamophobic' speaker

Col Richard Kemp dropped out of the line up of people who were due to address the event


Anti-racism campaigners refused to attend Sunday's Together Against Antisemitism rally after organisers invited a controversial “Islamophobic” former army officer to speak.

Colonel Richard Kemp later dropped out of the line-up, after a backlash from groups such as Muslims Against Antisemitism.

In 2017, he was accused by the Muslim Council of Britain of casting a “dark shadow of suspicion” on Muslims in suggesting, in an article for the Times, that Islamic State (IS) was attempting to infiltrate the British armed forces.

“The understandable drive by the armed forces and police to recruit more Muslims, and a less understandable concern for ticking the politically correct box over operational effectiveness, combine into an unprecedented danger,” he wrote.

In 2018, the Jewish News paid out £20,000 after publishing an article by Col Kemp, in which he claimed Baroness Sayeeda Warsi excused the actions of IS and objected to legal action against British Muslims who committed murder and rape for IS.

He has also shared articles by InfoWars and Breitbart, both of which have been accused of promoting conspiracy theories and extremism, on social media.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism, which organised the rally, did not respond to requests for comment on why it invited Col Kemp to speak.

More than 3,000 people attended the rally to hear speakers such as Robert Rinder, Tracy Ann Oberman and historian Tom Holland.

Journalist Oz Katerji tweeted: “Thank you to Jewish allies who spoke out, and I am sorry I can’t be with you today, but as a Muslim I cannot endorse any platform that featured virulent racist Islamophobe Col Richard Kemp.

“Bitterly disappointed and angry at anyone who would have even considered him appropriate. His removal from the platform doesn’t make me any more comfortable attending.”

Marlon Solomon, a comedian and campaigner against antisemitism, said: “Richard Kemp shares stuff from Breitbart and Infowars. Crank conspiracist websites flying the flag for Trump which of course includes stoking racial prejudice, particularly against Muslims.

“He should not be speaking at an antisemitism rally. This isn't hard.”

After his planned appearance caused anger, Col Kemp said on Twitter people were “spreading untruths about my views”.

He wrote: “I am not anti-Muslim, only anti-Jihadist. I have risked my life fighting for Muslims, have been awarded medals by two Muslim countries & decorated by the Queen for saving Muslims’ lives.”

The JC approached Col Kemp for comment but received no reply as this article went live.

UPDATE December 24, 2019: This article was amended to say Col Kemp dropped out of the speaking lineup rather than that he was ‘removed’ from it. It also clarified the Jewish News agreed to pay damages rather than being ‘ordered to’ do so.

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