daving irving 298.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
LONDON - A leading UK Muslim activist made a donation to David Irving, the revisionist historian sentenced in February to three years' imprisonment in Austria for denying the Holocaust, The Observer has reported.
Asgar Bukhari, a founding member of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC), which the National Union of Students banned from British university campuses for an ti-Semitism, pledged support, made a small donation and asked Muslim Web sites to ask visitors to make donations to Irving in 2000, The Observer recently reported.
In an e-mail to Irving, Bukhari wrote, "You may feel like you are on your own but rest assured many people are with you in your fight for the truth."
He also offered to send Irving a book called They Dare to Speak Out by former Illinois congressman Paul Findley, a critic of his country's alliance with Israel. Bukhari said Findley "has suffered like you in trying to expose certain falsehoods perpetrated by the Jews," according to the report.
Bukhari confirms sending the letters to Irving but claims he didn't know Irving was anti-Semitic. Bukhari told The Observer, "I had a lot of sympathy for anyone who opposed Israel. I wrote letters to anyone who was tough against the Israelis - David Irving, Paul Findley, the PLO. I don't feel I have done anything wrong, to be honest. At the time I was of the belief he [Irving] was anti-Zionist, being smeared for nothing more then being anti-Zionist."
"The pro-Israeli lobby often accused people of anti-Semitism, and smear tactics against groups and individuals is well known. I condemn anti-Semitism as strongly as I condemn Zionism, in my opinion they are both racist ideologies. I also believe that anyone who denies the Holocaust is wrong, I don't think they should be put behind bars for it, though," he said.
Bukhari regularly appears as a spokesman on Muslim issues on both BBC and Sky News, and it appears this will continue. Sky News has so far declined to comment.
The BBC said in a statement: "We hear from a range of voices offering a variety of different views. It is up to individual program editors who they use as contributors and it's decided on a case by case basis taking a number of factors into consideration."
Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said, "Anyone who has any knowledge of MPAC, its agenda and the nature of articles and comments on its Web site will be terribly surprised that one of its founders has supported David Irving.
"If we are to believe that Bukhari was ignorant of Irving's discredited views, then he has at best displayed monumentally inept judgement. That, I suspect, would actually be quite a charitable view. The Zionist smear claim is simply a 'reds under the bed' paranoid reaction to cover his embarrassment at being caught out by The Observer," he said.