Labour’s General Election candidate for Coventry South bragged she would “celebrate” the deaths of Tony Blair and Benjamin Nentanayu - and also wrote of her support for “violent resistance” by Palestinians.
Zarah Sultana, a paid Labour staffer and West Midlands regional campaigner, was selected last week as the official candidate from a shortlist of just two candidates.
The selection of Ms Sultana came amid controversy that national party officials had used emergency ‘snap election’ rules to produce a longlist for the seat, circumventing the local party.
Despite Labour’s claim to have carried out proper due diligence on all election candidates, Ms Sultana’s history of making hugely controversial and inflammatory statements on social media seems to have been overlooked.
In one message, Ms Sultana took issue with the suggestion it was wrong to “celebrate the death of any person regardless of what they did”.
The former Birmingham University student wrote: “Try and stop me when the likes of Blair, Netanyahu and Bush die.”
Ms Sultana, who sat on the national executive of Young Labour and the national executive council of the National Union of Students, wrote the of the world leaders: “The sooner they meet their creator the better. The concepts of justice and accountability don’t truly exist in this life. Only in the next.”
Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) meet on Tuesday to rubber stamp the selection of candidates ahead of December 12.
As a staunch supporter of the BDS campaign and as parliamentary officer for MEND, the Muslim advocacy group, the 26-year-old Unite union representative has long made the Palestinian cause a focus of her activism.
In one social media discussion she corrected her initial claim of support for the Palestinian right to “non-violent resistance.”
Ms Sultana wrote: “Best believe that was an error and I meant to write ‘violent resistance’.” She then proceeded to use the hashtag #signsofanextremistMuslim in the same post.
Discussing Israel she wrote: “There will come a time in the near future where those (who) lobby for Israel feel the same shame and regret as South African apartheid supporters.”
She added: “It is not progressive to champion a state created through ethnic cleansing, sustained through occupation, apartheid and war crimes.”
During her university days she also attacked the attempt by a Jewish student to stand as a Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) student leader – branding the candidate “white”.
In the March 2015 post, Ms Sultana wrote: “Everyone sees how problematic it is for white people to run for positions representing BME students. Except white people.”
In a further social media post, she said: “Those within the student movement who go to Zionist conferences and trips should be ashamed of themselves. You’re advocating racist ideology.”
Jim Cunningham has served as the Coventry South MP for 27 years, since 1992, and returned a majority of almost 8,000 votes in 2017. Labour has never lost the seat since its 1950 creation.
Ms Sultana commented: "Today I was shown tweets from a deleted account dating back several years from when I was a student.
"This was written out of frustration rather than any malice. I was a young activist exasperated by endless cycles of global suffering, violence and needless killing resulting from decisions by political leaders, from the Iraq war to the killing of over 2,000 Palestinians in 2014, mostly civilians, which was condemned by the United Nations. I do not support violence and I should not have articulated my anger in the manner I did, for which I apologise."