Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Right-wing commentator slated over anti-Muslim comments

UK finance minister said comments about preventing the Muslim vote are ‘not funny and not acceptable’

UK Finance Minister Sajid Javid criticised the Spectator current affairs magazine over a "light-hearted" column that sought to block the vote for Muslims. Bloomberg
UK Finance Minister Sajid Javid criticised the Spectator current affairs magazine over a "light-hearted" column that sought to block the vote for Muslims. Bloomberg

The UK’s finance minister criticised a right-wing magazine on Friday after one of its highest-profile contributors suggested that Muslims should be stopped from voting in national elections.

The column by Rod Liddle in the Spectator Magazine suggested that a date for the election be chosen when “Muslims are forbidden to do anything on pain of hell, or something”.

He suggested that preventing Muslims from voting at the elections, now slated for December 12, would give the ruling Conservative party, which is backed by the Spectator, an extra 40 seats.

Mr Liddle claimed that the column was “light-hearted” but was criticised by Sajid Javid, the UK’s most prominent Muslim minister, campaigners and from within the magazine itself.

In a tweet, Mr Javid said: “Not clear if the Rod Liddle comment is supposed to be a joke - but it's not funny and not acceptable. No community in our country should be put down that way.”

Former Conservative Party MP Nick Boles described Mr Liddle as a “repulsive man” in a tweet. “Rod Liddle once said I was never a ‘proper Tory’,” he wrote. “Presumably because, in his view, ‘proper Tories’ are out and out racists who hate British Muslims. Repulsive man.”

The magazine’s assistant editor, Isabel Hardman, said she profoundly disagreed with the article and said she was not involved in its publication.

In his response to the outcry, Mr Liddle – a former editor of the BBC’s flagship radio news programme – claimed there was “no hate speech or Islamophobia whatsoever” in his piece. “It was patently a joke,” he said.

The article is just the latest by Mr Liddle in the Spectator to cause upset. The 190-year-old magazine was fined £3,000 and forced to issue a grovelling apology after Mr Liddle wrote a column that nearly brought to a halt a notorious race-hate murder trial in 2012.

The magazine said that article was published because of an “unprecedented and bitterly regretted failure”. The magazine could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Updated: November 1, 2019 06:59 PM

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