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Welsh councillor denies using Islamophobic word

28th Nov 2014

Elham Asaad Buaras

A councillor in Wales has denied his use of the term “muzzy” on his Facebook was an Islamophobic slur. Mike Harris, an independent Torfaen councilor, posted “Once a Muzzy!” alongside an article on Hamas reportedly executing informers.

Anti-racism campaigners Hope Not Hate posted his remark on their blog on August 26.
The post provoked more than 70 angry comments on the group’s Facebook page.
One reader branded his comments “unbelievable” and “unacceptable”, while another accused him of being “racist”.

The Muslim Council of Wales, called on Harris and all “councillors to refrain from using such inflammatory and divisive language in the future.”

Continued…

Cllr Mike Harris used the term “muzzy” in a post on Facebook – but he denies the comment was an anti-Muslim slur

Harris has denies that his post was intended as a racist slur but that he was using the word in its proper meaning as set out in the dictionary, “Unable to think clearly; confused”.

While referring to the picture accompanying the article, which shows the executioners carrying guns, he said: “They are executing people so they must be confused and not able to think clearly or muzzy as it says in the dictionary.”

A council spokesman confirmed that the council has been contacted by members of the public regarding the post and have referred the public to the Public Service Ombudsman.

He explained that individual councillors are responsible for their postings on social media and are subject to a Code of Conduct, some aspects of which apply to a councillor even when he/she is not acting on council business.

He added: “Complaints that a councillor may have breached the Code should be made to the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman will decide whether or not to investigate.”

The Ombudsman confirmed that it has not received a complaint on the issue.

In 2012, the public services ombudsman’s office received complaints after Harris wrote on Facebook that he would rush an act through Parliament to “reclassify all immigrants as being illegal immigrants.”

The public services ombudsman concluded there was no evidence of a breach of the code of conduct.

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