Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

UK election candidate suspended for support of Assad and anti-Semitism

Liberal Democrats suspend Waheed Rafiq over inappropriate messages

Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats party, launched the party's manifesto on Wednesday on the same day the party was forced to suspend a candidate for anti-semitic remarks. Bloomberg
Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats party, launched the party's manifesto on Wednesday on the same day the party was forced to suspend a candidate for anti-semitic remarks. Bloomberg

Britain’s third-largest political party has suspended a candidate who supports Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad and has repeatedly made anti-Semitic remarks through social media accounts.

The Liberal Democrats took action against their candidate, Waheed Rafiq, after years of inappropriate messages were uncovered.

Mr Rafiq is the latest election candidate to come under fire for offensive posts.

He was the party’s Birmingham Hodge Hill candidate for more than five years despite the posts, which go back nine years.

In 2012 Mr Rafiq posted a large image of Mr Al Assad with the caption: “Convoy members received an overwhelming reception from the Syria people and the officials.”

One of the posts was tweeted in 2015 when he stood as a candidate for the party.

The Lib Dems launched their election manifesto on Wednesday.

When the posts, which were uncovered by BuzzFeed News, were presented to the party it decided to suspend Mr Rafiq.

A spokesman said he would be removed from all roles and would no longer receive its backing during his election campaign.

In a post from 2014, Mr Rafiq urged people to boycott WhatsApp because he claimed it was “Zionist-backed”.

“So all we do and say is monitored and can leave us vulnerable to be exploited later,” he wrote.

The same year he shared two images on Twitter.

One was from an anti-Israel demonstration with a Star of David flag and the words “Genocide, Apartheid, Holocaust”.

The other was a cartoon of a man going to heaven and another going to hell with the caption: “Looks like Waheed had the right religion all along."

Later on Wednesday the UK’s Conservative Party faced criticism after it was revealed its Brent North candidate, Anjana Patel, was behind an anti-Muslim tweet.

Ms Patel sent an ugly tweet to Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai after two Hindu girls were kidnapped.

The party was aware of the tweet before she was chosen to stand.

Updated: November 20, 2019 11:29 PM

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