Senior Conservative suspended amid 'antisemitism speech' allegations


A senior Conservative Party member has been suspended by the party after a Labour MP claimed he made antisemitic remarks at the launch of a local election campaign.

Abdul Zaman was said to have made inappropriate comments about Jews and women while speaking at a Bradford Conservative Association event.

Mr Zaman, the association’s deputy chairman, was speaking in the Mirpuri dialect used in parts of Kashmir and Pakistan. He has been suspended pending an investigation.

Bradford West MP Naz Shah wrote to David Cameron after the event complaining that Mr Zaman was “speaking very passionately about clan politics, women, Jews and Christians and defying equality values while endorsing misogyny and antisemitism”.

She claimed that his speech, intended to launch a local Tory candidate’s election campaign ahead of Bradford Council elections next month, was a “brazen” attempt to “promote discriminatory views”.

But party colleagues came to Mr Zaman’s defence. Barry Whitaker, chairman of the association, told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus that he had been listening to the speech through a translator.

Mr Zaman had been talking about uniting Muslims, Christians and Jews, Mr Whitaker said.

Mr Whitaker told the newspaper: “I did not hear a single word of complaint about anything that was said. She is accusing Abdul Zaman of misogyny and antisemitism. He did use the word Jews.

"He was talking about Jews and Christians joining with us, unifying with us and being as one, rather than as separate entities. Unification is good."

Mr Whitaker notified Conservative Central Office about the incident, which will now be investigated.

Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush said: "The alleged comments of Abdul Zaman are of grave concern.

"Every political party must stand opposed to antisemitism and division. We welcome the prompt suspension and investigation and would expect effective action if the allegations are proved to be true."

Simon Johnson, Jewish Leadership Council chief executive, said: “Antisemitism has no place in politics at any level and it is utterly abhorrent that a member of the Conservative Party has allegedly displayed such prejudice and hate.

"I welcome the fact that the party has taken the first step by suspending Abdul Zaman and we will await the outcome of their full investigation.”

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