UK parliamentarian apologizes for anti-Jewish slur

Muslim in House of Lords tells 'Huffington Post' he is sorry; Jewish communal group questions sincerity of apology.

By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
March 30, 2013 23:09
3 minute read.
Britain's Lord Nazir Ahmed

Lord Nazir Ahmed 370. (photo credit: Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah / Reuters)

 
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LONDON – The British parliamentarian who complained of a Jewish conspiracy after being jailed for his part in a fatal car crash has apologized for his remarks.

Nazir Ahmed, a member of the House of Lords, had said that a prison sentence he served was a result of pressure applied on the court by Jews “who own newspapers and television channels.”

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The Labor party member, who has been suspended by the party pending an investigation, told The Huffington Post last week that he completely and unreservedly apologizes.

He said he had the “greatest respect for the Jewish community and that his comments were “completely wrong”, “unacceptable” and “the product of a twisted mind.”

He said he took full responsibility for the “bigoted and stupid” remarks.

The 55-year-old, who became one of the first Muslim peers in the UK after former prime minister Tony Blair appointed him in 1998, was jailed in 2009 after he killed another motorist while sending a series of text messages while driving.

He also claimed that the judge in the case was appointed after he helped a “Jewish colleague” of Blair during an important case, and that Jewish-owned media organizations pressured the courts to charge him with a more serious offense.

Ahmed maintained that the plot to stemmed from Jewish disapproval of his support for the Palestinians in Gaza. The Times had originally reported on the comments last month, which Ahmed made during a television interview in Pakistan last April.

“My case became more critical because I went to Gaza to support Palestinians. My Jewish friends who own newspapers and TV channels opposed this,” he allegedly said in the interview.

Ahmed said last week that he is not anti-Semitic or an Islamist stating that during his 15 years in parliament he had addressed many Jewish audiences and had visited Israel.


“I have had the honor of addressing the World Jewish Congress in 2000... working with the Maimonides Foundation, One Voice, the Joseph Interfaith Foundation, going to Israel and synagogues here in the UK,” he told The Huffington Post.

Asked why he made the comments, he said he could not honestly say why.

“Probably because of the terrible experience of the accident... I cannot honestly say why... It must have been a twisted mind that said those things,” Ahmed said.

He also conceded that some Muslims cross the line between Israeli government policies and Jewish policies maintaining that on several occasions he had interrupted people and said: “This is not a Jewish issue. As far as I am concerned, we [Muslims] don’t have any problem with the [Jewish] faith.”

Responding to the reference he made in the interview to “Yehudis” [Jews], he said that there is not word for “Zionist” in Urdu.

He also regretted inviting the Swedish anti-Semite Israel Shamir to speak at the House of Lords in 2005 saying it has resulted in a “big stain on my reputation.”

The Community Security Trust – a charity that works with police and government to stem anti-Semitism in the UK, and provides security for the community – has questioned the sincerity of the apology.

CST’s communications director Mark Gardner said his apology had not been forthcoming or made directly, questioning why it was made to journalist rather than being made independently.

“This apology by Lord Ahmed will be greeted with much suspicion as it comes in response to a journalist rather than have been made directly and voluntarily to those who were most offended by the remarks,” Gardner said.

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