Labour councillors in Blackburn have been criticised over controversial social media posts in response to the ongoing events in Israel and Palestine.
Over the weekend, terrorist organization Hamas carried out a series of war crimes against innocent Israelis, storming into Israel, executing civilians, and kidnapping a number of men, women and children.
Labour councillor Salim Sidat, who represents Audley and Queens Park ward, appeared unhappy with the BBC’s reporting of the incidents, which are still ongoing, and shared a meme condemning the broadcaster for what he perceived to be bias in their reporting of the murder of innocent civilians.
Joining him was Labour councillor Mohammed Irfan, who shared a post by a constituent downplaying the terrorist acts and falsely claiming that they only took place over ‘a few hours’.
“Wall-to-wall coverage of Israelis experiencing for a few hours what Palestinians have continuously experienced decade after decade is incredibly telling about the discrepancy in the value of human life in our corporate news,” the post read.
Shockingly, going one step further, Cllr Irfan, who represents Billinge and Beardwood, then shared and ‘liked’ a post calling for the Pakistani army to join Hamas/Palestine in fighting Israel.
The Labour party in Blackburn have a long history of being embroiled in scandal.
Last year, a Labour Councillor who called Jews ‘murderers’ and claimed Israel created ISIS, was readmitted into the party despite continuing to share anti-Jewish comments online, VoteWatch exclusively revealed.
Councillor Tasleem Fazal from Blackburn and Darwen Council was suspended in 2020 after a video emerged on social media in which he was heard hurling a barrage of abuse at Jewish protestors.
Posted by the now deactivated account “CH Tassy Fazal”, Fazal is recorded yelling at a group of demonstrators holding Israeli flags and “peace for Israel and Gaza” signs, calling them “murderers, murderers, murderers… you’re all murderers”.
The video also recorded Cllr Fazal claiming that ISIS had been created by Zionists.
However, an email written by Council leader Mohammed Khan, and subsequently leaked to VoteWatch, confirms that Cllr Fazal was quietly readmitted into the party – despite Sir Keir Starmer claiming to be taking a strong stance against antisemitism.
VoteWatch previously revealed that Mr Khan was evidently a supporter of the disgraced Councillor, and had been actively ignoring Fazal’s suspension from the Labour Party.
In a letter written by a group referring to themselves as ‘Blackburn Labour Muslim Councillors’, Blackburn’s leader and a string of Labour councillors clearly refer to Mr Fazal as a sitting ‘LABOUR Councillor’, and even allow him to sign the letter in an attempt to pressure parliament into condemning Israel.
During his suspension it appears that Cllr Fazal spent much of his time using his social media platforms to continue attacking Israel, including promoting posts that use antisemitic tropes claiming Israel are the ‘masters’ of America, and pondering over whether the very existence of Israel can be challenged through the courts.
The Labour Party in Blackburn has been the focus of numerous VoteWatch investigations, with scandals taking place almost on a monthly basis.
In May of last year, another Blackburn Labour Councillor was suspended after spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories, including that Israelis were ‘kidnapping children and harvesting their organs’.
Councillor Yusuf Jan-Virmani, who represents the constituency’s Audley and Queen’s Park ward, was suspended from the Labour Party after using his slot at a council meeting to make stereotypical claims about Israelis.
Calling Israel’s elected officials a “right-wing extremist government”, Cllr Jan-Virmani went on to say:
“Mr Mayor, councillors – I am not aware of any animal that is so cruel as the Israelis. Not even crocodiles. They bomb schools day and night… hospitals, they bomb them – they flatten them.
“They kidnap the kids and harvest their organs… that’s been proven. That’s from the United Nations.
“They inject people there. They murder by land sea and air. And what’s worse, the Israelis slander the defenceless Palestinian victims as terrorists.”
The harvesting of organs was indeed carried out by Israel decades ago, but not against ‘kidnapped children’ as Jan-Virmani falsely claims, but instead dead bodies of some Palestinians had their organs harvested for medical use. This practice was widely condemned and ceased shortly after.
Speaking to VoteWatch at the time, Rick Moore, Deputy Chair of the Blackburn Conservative Association, said:
“Firstly I would like to join the Conservative council group in condemning the violence from both sides of the Gaza conflict, and call for a de-escalation of the situation and encourage both sides to find a peaceful solution that respects all human rights.
“In regards to Cllr Jan-Virmani’s speech, I am concerned that it seems to be clearly anti-Semitic in nature, comparing the Israeli people to animals which is clearly unacceptable.
“Is anti-Semitism still festering in the Blackburn Labour Party? Cllr Jan-Virmani went on to make accusations of organ harvesting, a practice Israel admitted to, and ended in the 1990’s. To raise this issue in particular now, 30 years on; I see it as nothing more than an attempt to whip up further anti-semitism and hate which could well be targeted at Jewish Communities here in the UK.”
Just months before, the city’s Labour mayor, Iftakhar Hussain, resigned after being caught breaking lockdown laws to attend a wedding party. And months later, a well-respected female councillor, Saima Afzal, left the party after accusing colleagues of engaging in a campaign of sexism and harassment against her.
In July, VoteWatch exclusively released footage showing Blackburn Labour Councillor Mafooz Hussain telling a Covid volunteer to ‘fuck off’, before later revealing that Council leader Mohammed Khan, whose council was placed under police investigation over alleged corruption, had referred to Conservative politicians and their supporters as ‘dirty, lying b*stards’.