BBC Leadership Debate: Imam Suspended From Jobs After Past Tweets Emerge

George Bowden

An imam who questioned Conservative leadership candidates during a BBC debate has been suspended from his job as a school leader and from his role at a mosque after controversial tweets emerged.

Abdullah Patel appeared on the Your Next Prime Minister programme on Tuesday evening, asking the five Tory politicians in the running for No.10 about the link between rhetoric and rising Islamophobia.

But Patel’s own past comments on social media drew criticism after tweets which appeared to support Zionist conspiracy theories were unearthed.

The BBC responded to claims it failed to properly check Patel’s social media profiles by alleging he deliberately hid his views from researchers.

Abdullah Patel, from Gloucester, challenged the Conservative leadership candidates over Islamophobia in Britain.

In one message, Patel is said to have claimed: “Every political figure on the Zionist’s payroll is scaring the world about [Jeremy] Corbyn.”

In another, Patel is alleged to have written: “Generally, men are the predators but women need to realise this and be smarter.”

And despite questions over his social media profiles, Patel appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live as a guest on Wednesday morning. 

5 Live presenter Nicky Campbell apologised for the booking.

Patel has been suspended from his role as deputy head of a primary school in Gloucester and as an imam at the city’s Masjid e Umar mosque.

Both institutions said they did not share Patel’s apparent views.

The BBC said in a statement responding to Patel’s alleged tweets that it had conducted thorough checks of its questioners’ social media accounts, but that Patel had “hidden” his views.

The broadcaster said: “We carried out background research into the online and social media profiles of all our questioners for last night’s debate.

“Following the debate, one individual reactivated a public twitter account he had previously deactivated, whose tweets were not visible during our research period.

“Had we been aware of the views of he expressed there he would not have been selected.”

Patel told BBC Radio Gloucester that his historic tweets did not criticise the Jewish community in general.

“The criticism was not of the Jewish community because if you go through my tweets, you’d see support for the Jewish community,” he said.

“They’re our brothers and sisters, and the Jewish community and I - especially in Gloucester - work very closely together. We actually visited a synagogue just a while ago.”

He added that he continued to stand by criticism of “Israel’s policy”.

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