Birmingham Lib Dem candidate suspended over antisemitic posts

 Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A Lib Dem candidate has been suspended from the party for making antisemitic comments on social media.

Waheed Rafiq, a candidate in the Birmingham Hodge Hill constituency, was suspended on Wednesday afternoon after he reportedly posted on Facebook in 2010 that it was “shocking to see how the Jewish government call themselves Jews when they are wiping out all the people of Gaza”.

In 2014 he apparently urged people to boycott WhatsApp saying it was “Zionist backed.”
“Never forget WhatsApp is Zionist backed so all we do and say is monitored and can leave us vulnerable to be exploited later,” he wrote, according to Buzzfeed News.

A spokesperson for the party said Rafiq was no longer a candidate.

She said: “The public posts on his Facebook and Twitter account from 2010 to 2014 are clearly and unambiguously anti-Semitic and bring the party into disrepute and are also of material disagreement with the fundamental values and objectives of the Party.”

Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl was quoted as saying by BirminghamLive: “The only response to the disgusting anti-Semitism exhibited by Waheed Rafiq, by the Liberal Democrat candidate for Birmingham Hodge Hill, is to immediately drop him as a candidate for the constituency.

“We call on the Liberal Democrats to act now and ensure he is expelled after he is dropped as a candidate.”

Rafiq’s suspension came on the same day the Lib Dems published their election manifesto. They have pledged to stop Brexit, legalise cannabis and invest a £50 billion “Remain Bonus” in public services.

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson took a shot at both prime minister Boris Johnson and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn.

In reference to the Supreme Court’s ruling in September that the prime minister unlawfully suspended parliament, Swinson said: “This is a man who lied to the Queen, who has lied to you before and he’s lying to you now. Boris Johnson only cares about Boris Johnson, and he’ll say and do whatever it takes to keep him in Number 10”.

She also fumed at Corbyn’s hesitancy to answer the “biggest question of the election” over how he will campaign in a second referendum.

“Elections are about choosing the kind of country you want to build,” the Lib Dem leader declared in a speech central London.