The Conservative Party has reportedly suspended, Amjad Bashir, their general election candidate for Leeds North East, who claimed that young British Jewish men were returning from Israel as “brainwashed extremists.”
Mr Bashir has been “suspended from the party pending investigation” and the Conservatives have withdrawn election support after it emerged that during a debate in the European Parliament in 2014, he said: “As far as brainwashing by the rabbis and the politicians are concerned, I can testify to that…young men are going over from England where I come from, people of the Jewish faith who my grandchildren have grown up with as decent people, decent young men. But have come back as extremists, as people that are brainwashed. They will not listen to reason. There is something very peculiar and wrong going on within Israel.”
At the time when Mr Bashir made the comment he was an MEP with UKIP, having defected from the Conservatives in 2012 and returned in 2015.
The incumbent MP in the constituency is Labour’s Fabian Hamilton. When Mr Bashir’s comments were reported, Dan Cohen, his election agent, said that that he would not continue to campaign for him, while a local Jewish constituent told Campaign Against Antisemitism that he felt that he had been “disenfranchised”.
Mr Bashir apologised for his remarks and said that he intended to meet local Jewish groups and travel to Israel “to gain direct experience from the situation on the ground there.”
While it is disappointing that it took a couple of days for Mr Bashir to be suspended, Campaign Against Antisemitism commends the Conservatives for their firm action in suspending him and sending a strong message that such comments are not tolerated in the Conservative Party.
This follows the decision by the Scottish Conservatives to suspend Ryan Houghton, the candidate for Aberdeen North, over social media posts questioning evidence of the Holocaust.