Labour councillor behind new initiative to fight racism has history of alleged antisemitism

Dipu Ahad claimed 'Marks and Spencer are directly killing innocent Palestinian people by directly funding the Zionist regime', and liked an antisemitic Rothschild post


A Newcastle Labour councillor who just six months ago was reported to Labour for alleged antisemitic statements has now launched a campaign to combat hate crime from the “far right”.

According to the North East Evening Chronicle, Dipu Ahad is calling for the creation of a new organisation, the North East Race Equality Assembly, which, he says, will “look into race related issues such as Islamophobia, antisemitism, Romaphobia, refugee issues and racism in general.

“We can't ignore the threat from the far right. And we have seen recently that hate crime is on the rise.”

However, in April Mr Ahad was one of the councillors revealed by Buzzfeed News to be listed in a dossier compiled by the Labour Against Antisemitism group due to his comments and interactions on Facebook.

These included a post in 2013 that as a councillor he “DIDN’T vote for the new mega Marks & Spencer store in Gosforth as a matter of principal [sic]… Marks and Spencer are directly killing innocent Palestinian people by directly funding the Zionist regime.” Mr Ahad, who has been a Labour councillor for over a decade, also liked a post in 2015 which promoted the antisemitic conspiracy theory that Western countries went to war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya in an attempt to “achieve the Zionist [goal]… to have each country in the debt of the Rothschilds… there were six countries that didn’t have Rothschild and three were Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.”

At the time it was reported by the Evening Chronicle that Labour was considering whether to suspend Councillor Ahad, but no action was taken. In an e-mail to Buzzfeed at the time, Mr Ahad said “As to your focus of my relations with the Jewish community let me state the following: 1. I am on record to have condemned antisemitism throughout my history.

“2. I have had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz in 2012 and my views are public in this regard.

“3. I was the chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day in Newcastle.”

However, Mr Ahad neglected to mention that in 2014, five Jewish members of the Newcastle Holocaust Memorial Day committee stepped down due to their discomfort at his behaviour during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, with the Jewish former Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Jackie Slesenger, describing his actions as “unacceptable and unwise… he chose to flout all rules of impartiality, fairness and racial tolerance”. 

Councillor Frances Weetman, who resigned from Labour last month over the party’s handling of its antisemitism crisis, said: “I am shocked and disappointed that Cllr Ahad has created an anti-racism campaign in an apparent attempt to disguise his own history with antisemitism.

“He is not an appropriate person to coordinate an anti-racism campaign. Antisemitism is a serious issue, and his actions undermine serious attempts to fight racism in Newcastle and the North East.”

Euan Philipps, spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism, said: “LAAS reported Councillor Ahad to the Labour Party in November 2017, after we had compiled a detailed dossier of antisemitic social media comments he had made (and that were previously unseen).

"Despite being told that an investigation would be opened into his conduct, no action has been taken by the party, and in May 2018 Councillor Ahad was even allowed to stand again as a Labour council candidate. Now Labour appears to be promoting him as some kind of ‘hate-crime Czar’, a bizarre move which completely ignores his alleged track record of promoting racial hatred.

"We demand that Nick Forbes, the Leader of Newcastle City Council, and Fiona Stanton, the Labour Regional Director, show they are prepared to finally take the issue of antisemitism in their area seriously, remove Councillor Ahad from any race-relations role he has been given, and open up the investigation into his previous behaviour that our dossier warrants.”

Mr Ahad has been contacted for comment. 

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