By Omer El-Hamdoon
In a week which saw a senior Liberal Democrat and his wife sentenced to jail for perverting the course of justice we also read about alleged anti-Semitic comments from a Labour life peer. It seems that politicians are making the news in more ways than one.
Lord Ahmed made the reported anti-Jewish remarks in an interview he gave to an Urdu-speaking Pakistani TV network last year claiming his imprisonment over dangerous driving in 2009 was a result of Jewish conspiracy.
Since the allegations, the Labour party has suspended Lord Ahmed pending investigations.
This isn't the first time that he has been suspended from the Labour party. He was cut off last year after he was accused of having offered a "£10 million reward" for President Obama's head. It later transpired he had actually called for George W Bush and Tony Blair to be brought to the International Court of Justice on charges of war crimes. The suspension was lifted following that.
If this isn't the first time, one has to therefore ask what is it that attracts allegations to Lord Ahmed?
Is it that he is the first male Muslim peer? Or is it that he is a charismatic figure, who is determined to speak his mind? Or is it that he is just a magnet for controversy?
The comments he is alleged to have made cannot be accepted and have no room in our society. Hate speech or provocation aimed at any particular community has to be denounced, as it is demeaning and undermines the cohesion of society.
Jews have laws which protect them against discriminatory remarks. It would be nice to see laws like those against anti-Semitism extended to include all religions so that Islamophobia or anti-Muslim hatred was also a crime in our country.
Strangely enough, these anti-Semitic claims come at the same time that we hear that Muslims in Bradford – headed by Bradford Council for Mosques – didn't hesitate in working together with the local authority and businesses to raise funds for the Bradford synagogue, which is threatened to close due to lack of funds; displaying that Muslims don't just care about themselves; but are ready to help others.
To me, that's not the surprising part. What comes as a surprise is that the chair of the Bradford synagogue approached the Muslim community for help and assistance, which shows the Jewish community relates well with the Muslim community. A similar experience can be witnessed in the synagogue which has neighboured East London Mosque for over 100 years.
Coming back to the Lord Ahmed story, we shouldn't lose sight of our firmly upheld principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. The Labour party has promised that it will carry out a full investigation into the nature of these allegations. Therefore, we should wait and allow the investigation to take its course.
Omer El-Hamdoon is the president of Muslim Association of Britain, an imam and a lecturer in Islam.
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