Iman from Tory leadership debate suspended from deputy head job over 'disturbing' social media posts

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Comments about Israel from Imam Abdullah Patel have been unearthe following his appearance on the Tory leadership debate (BBC)

An imam who questioned the Tory leadership hopefuls on Islamophobia has been suspended from teaching duties over unearthed Twitter posts.

Abdullah Patel asked the contenders about Islamophobia, but has been criticised for past anti-Semitic tweets, which also praised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Patel wrote: "Every Political figure on the Zionist's payroll is scaring the world about Corbyn. They don't like him. He seems best suited to tackle them!”

He also shared an image endorsing the relocation of Israel to the US as a way of solving the Israel/Palestine conflict, which was unearthed by the Guido Fawkes website.

Unearthed tweets show Mr Patel's criticism of Israel and 'Zionists' (Twitter)

Now the Chair of the Al-Madani Educational Trust has confirmed Mr Patel’s suspension, saying: “Following some of the comments attributed to Mr Patel in the media this morning, the Trust has decided to suspend him from all school duties with immediate effect until a full investigation is carried out.

“The ‘school’ and ‘Trust’ do not share the views attributed to him.”

Rob Burley, who edited the programme, said Mr Patel's Twitter account had been deactivated ahead of his appearance on the BBC debate - meaning his tweets could not be read.

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He said: "It was AFTER the show that Mr Patel reactivated his account revealing his tweets.

"We wouldn't have put him on the programme if these were public before broadcast, but they were not. We also carried out a number of other routine checks which didn't uncover anything untoward.”

Mr Patel has taken down his Twitter account again after the past tweets came to light.

Earlier, BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Nicky Campbell, who had Mr Patel on his breakfast show, apologised and said the imam had made "extremely disturbing" remarks on Twitter and that he was "sorry" the broadcaster had not checked beforehand.

Campbell tweeted: "I would like to apologise. We had the Imam from the BBC Tory leadership debate on our programme this morning.

"His social media comments have been extremely disturbing. We should have checked. We didn't. I'm sorry.”

A second questioner on the BBC debate - Aman Thakar - has also been revealed to be Labour Party council candidate in 2018 in Southwark, who has worked in Labour headquarters - which the BBC are alleged to have known before the programme took place.

In the debate, Mr Patel asked the five candidates whether they believed words had consequences, and said he had seen first hand the impact of Islamophobic rhetoric on his community.

Boris Johnson said he was "sorry for the offence" his comments about veiled Muslim women looking like "letter boxes" and "bank robbers" had caused, while Michael Gove condemned Islamophobia as "repugnant" and attacked Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for comments he claimed were "disgusting" and anti-Semitic.

Mr Patel asked the Tory leadership hopefuls about Islamophobia during the BBC debate (BBC)

Home Secretary Sajid Javid urged all the candidates to commit to an external investigation into the issue within the Tory Party, and his rivals nodded in agreement.

Writing on Twitter after the debate, Mr Patel said he had asked the question because he wanted the candidates to promise that "things would change", adding: "The hate is real.”

"As an Imam, I'm exposed to many incidents which happen in my community, and of course, as a visible Muslim, I also witness it first hand. I have received numerous incident reports of blatant racism against members of my community, from spitting and swearing at Muslim women ... to asking students coming to my mosque if they had bombs in their bags," he wrote.

He added: "What I got as a response was nothing short of disappointing and deluded: @BorisJohnson forgot my name, spoke about his G(reat) grandfather and about Iran. Gove used the opportunity to have a dig at @jeremycorbyn.

The BBC debate has been criticised for its format and for the inclusion of Mr Patel despite his Twitter comments (Getty)

"@Jeremy-Hunt used the chance to speak about how he can't be racist because he has an immigrant wife, and @RoryStewartUK forgot that this is also OUR country. The only positive from the debate was @sajidjavid making them all commit to an independent investigation into Islamophobia in the @Conservatives.”

In his response to the question, Mr Johnson said he believed his Muslim great-grandfather would have been "very proud" to have seen him become foreign secretary.

He added that, when his great-grandfather came to the UK in 1912, "he did so because he knew it was a beacon of generosity and openness and a willingness to welcome people from around the world", adding: "If I am Prime Minister, I will ensure that that is the way our country acts and behaves."

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