A group of Bradford residents plan to demonstrate in support of their MP David Ward, who was suspended by Britainâ„¢s the Liberal Democratic party after tweeting controversial views about Israel.
Ward, the MP for Bradford East, refused to apologise for writing on his twitter page on 13 July: “Am I wrong or am I right? At long last the Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid State of Israel last?”
Ward had his party whip withdrawn for eight weeks following a meeting in Westminster on Wednesday with the Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, and chief whip, Alistair Carmichael.
In a letter to Ward, Carmichael rebuked him for failing to keep a previous promise to use “proportionate and precise” language when commenting on Israel.
Aumayra Saleem, who organised a meeting of solidarity with around 100 constituents in January – when Ward posted controversial comments on his website in the lead up to Holocaust Day – said she plans to organise another demonstration in support of Ward.
“I’m really disheartened with what’s happened and upset with how the situation has been dealt with,” she said. “I feel every time an MP speaks about Israel or condemns the behaviour of Israel, the media and the political parties tend to get on the defence. We need to stand up and speak out about it.
“He has also had his freedom of speech taken away from him. If it had been another topic I don’t think the punishment would have been so severe. I’ve lost all faith in the Liberal Democrats.”
Saleem, a paralegal, said she would campaign for Ward at the next election but would not vote for the Liberal Democrats. She also said she would be writing to Nick Clegg on behalf of Bradford citizens who support Ward.
Habib Ahmed, 23, a sales assistant and constituent of Bradford East, said he would be the first one there at a demonstration to support Ward, who was “a man of courage and integrity”.
“From my point of view I think it’s a big mistake by Nick Clegg. I don’t think the Lib Dems will win any votes from the Muslim community in Bradford anymore,” he said, adding that it’s not just Muslims who support Ward and people from all parts of the community came to January’s meeting.
Bana Gora, chief executive of Bradford Muslim Women’s Council, said: “David Ward is a well respected MP in Bradford, who has worked tirelessly on behalf of all communities across the district, and we believe he has a good understanding of the diverse cultural and religious views across the district.
“While some may have been unhappy about his tweet, he was expressing views that many would openly agree with and does not appear to either encourage or condone illegal activity or hate crimes.
Ward’s suspension by the Lib Dems was condemned by the Bradford West MP George Galloway, who said he had been punished for “for telling nothing but the truth”.
The Respect MP told Iran’s Press TV that Clegg had acted to “please the Israel lobby in this country [Britain], which has put the Liberal Democrats under tremendous pressure to discipline him”.
Ward criticised the decision to suspend him, saying that his views are widely shared.
“I will not apologise for describing the state of Israel as an apartheid state. I don’t know how you can describe it as anything else. I am genuinely quite shocked at the reaction to the kind of thing many people say,” he said.
Republished with permission from: Press TV