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Starmer withdrawal from Iftar event “distorted” by Jewish reports

14th May 2021
Starmer withdrawal from Iftar event “distorted” by Jewish reports

(Photo credit: Labour Muslim Network)

Hamed Chapman

Ramadan Tent Project (RTF) has criticised a misleading report in the oldest continually published Jewish newspaper in the world about the withdrawal of Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, from an Open Iftar event.

“We are surprised and disappointed at the claims being made by Jake Wallis Simons of the Jewish Chronicle in his recent article about the reasons why Ramadan Tent Project’s event with Keir Starmer of the Labour Party was cancelled,” RTF said.

“In the article, it is alleged that ‘Ramadan Tent Project failed to respond to our inquiry’ – this is completely false and disingenuous given the above statement was sent on the 20th of April to the editorial team, the same day a media request was received from the Chronicle,” it said in an issued statement.

“Any attempt to undermine the excellent relationship Ramadan Tent Project has with the British Jewish community is divisive and deeply concerning”.

The story, written by the Deputy Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, claimed that Starmer pulled out of the interfaith event after the Board of (Jewish) Deputies’ Tal Ofer, claimed that RTP’s Chief Executive, Omar Salha, had “backed controversial groups such as Cage on Twitter.”

“Time for those who stand for the values of justice and liberty to support UK Cage and not be intimidated by the powers that be,” Salha was quoted saying. The paper also reminded its readers that the Government’s controversial Commission for Countering Extremism called for a “crackdown on organisations such as Cage.”

Labour insisted that the decision not to go ahead with the Iftar event was mutual and said that Starmer was pleased to subsequently attend Iftar organised by the Labour Muslim Network and has others arranged during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

“It was a mutual decision with the event organisers not to attend. The event subsequently did not go ahead, however, Keir was pleased to attend the virtual Iftar held by the Labour Muslim Network last week and has a number of other Iftars lined up,” a spokesman for the Starmer told Lobby journalists.

The RTP, which was founded in 2013 with a mission of bringing communities together across Britain, said that they had always sought to welcome people from all backgrounds and that their “mutually respectful and positive relationship with the British Jewish community is an important constituency.”

In the true spirit of Ramadan, it would “welcome Jake Wallis Simons and Tal Ofer to attend our iftars any evening this Ramadan and demonstrate that the diversity of opinion and tolerance,” it said. UK-based advocacy group Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) took issue with the Jewish Chronicle attempting to link the withdrawal by Starmer to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which Salha has supported.

In a petition signed by more than 2,000, FOA demanded that the Labour Leader should clarify “why he is undermining Muslims and anyone else who is seeking justice and redress for the Palestinian people.”

It claimed that Starmer is “discriminating against Muslims” while 61 per cent of Labour members supported the BDS campaign against Israel and only 9 per cent opposed it, according to a YouGov poll last month.

“In withdrawing from the iftar, Starmer is demonising Muslims in undertaking a legitimate political activity of Boycott. He is also sending a clear signal that the Labour Party under him will not pursue an ethical foreign policy that places international law, human rights and justice at the centre,” FOA said.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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