A doctor who publicly asked Manchester mayoral candidates to back the fight against racism has been found to have tweeted a string of antisemetic messages.
Dr Siema Iqbal spoke at the inaugural Assembly of Greater Manchester Citizens (GMC) which was held by community organising group Citizens UK on May 1. She asked the city’s three most prominent candidates for mayor, including the eventual victor Andy Burnham, for their plans to tackle racism. However, the Jewish Leadership Council has now drawn attention to Dr Iqbal’s own Twitter messages regarding Israel and Jews.
It has been revealed that during the summer of 2014, Dr Iqbal - who is said by Citizens UK, to have a “reputation for promoting inter-faith dialogue” locally - shared a message calling for the relocation of Israel to the United States, as a “solution” to the Gaza conflict.
She also retweeted a post accusing Israel of “shopping around for cheaper bombs” and a message which read: “When a people who survived a genocide use it as an excuse to commit genocide”, against backdrop of a Star of David splattered with blood. The first message was the same one which was shared by Labour MP Naz Shah, and for which Ms Shah has since apologised.
Dr Iqbal accused a Jewish Israel-advocacy group of pursuing a “vicious and vindictive campaign of misrepresentation and harassment” against her.
She also said she has made clear her retweets “are not endorsements”, and that she apologised soon after sending the tweets.
Dr Iqbal added: “I clearly stated that I was ‘sorry to learn of the disappointment caused by the tweets and would be more mindful of my actions’.
“I find all of this to be deeply troubling and stressful. I wish to make clear I am not and never have been antisemitic. My work in the community is ample evidence of this.”
Citizens UK said: “It has since come to light that, in 2014, during an upsurge in violence between Israel and Gaza, Dr Iqbal retweeted antisemitic tweets. Citizens UK wholeheartedly condemns these tweets.
“Citizens UK is concerned at having hosted someone on the assembly platform who may not have been in a position, because of her prior re-tweets, to unequivocally condemn racist speech or actions.
“We can readily see how this has caused offence and apologise for any hurt that has been caused, particularly to the Jewish community with whom Citizens UK has a long-established working relationship, just as we do with the UK’s Muslim and Christian communities.”
The Jewish Leadership Council has claimed that Citizens UK has said Dr Iqbal will not be asked to speak at any forthcoming events.