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3000 people sign petition calling for resignation of Solihull councillor following anti-Muslim retweets

26th Oct 2017

Nadine Osman

Over 2,750 people have signed a petition calling for the resignation of a Solihull councillor following his retweets of a series of anti-Muslim comments last month.

Jeff Potts, who sits on a religious education committee, has been suspended by the local Conservative group, however he still remains a councillor.

Potts re-tweeted highly inflammatory comments including: ‘Deport and repatriate all Muslims from the UK or watch terrorists kill innocent people for generations to come.’

He also retweeted: ‘You’ve clearly not experienced the Pakistani hospitality, having a daughter raped by men who think she’s ‘white trash’.’ Another incendiary comment ‘UK police covered-up thousands of girls raped/sold by the religion of peace’ drew the response: ‘Is anybody surprised?’

There have been calls for the long-standing councillor, who sits as the council’s representative on the standing advisory committee on religious education, to resign.

Potts now attends meetings as an independent. Potts stressed he did not share or support the comments, adding that they were a “freedom of speech issue”.

However, Green Party opposition leader, James Burn, has demanded Potts resign from the council.

“His position is untenable. When you start retweeting things about deporting all Muslims you are publicising views that are very close to crossing a legal line and encouraging hatred,” said Burn.

Trustee of the Solihull Muslim Community Association, Sabir Hussain, said: “I feel sorry for him because he is misguided and has shown narrow vision.”

The leader of Solihull Council, Bob Sleigh, said Potts retweets “inflame community relations that we have worked very hard to fuse together. Solihull is a very nice place to live. I have lived there for 35 years and have very good friends among various religions. We find it very comforting to relate to each other’s religions. We are all one together, regardless of colour and shape, and we are one very cohesive society.”

Jeff Potts has since deleted the offensive tweets from his account.

A second Solihull Conservative Councillor, Margaret Bassett, has been found to have shared several offensive tweets of both an anti-refugee and anti-Muslim nature. Amongst these was a retweet stating that “Islam has no place in this country”, speaking of the US.

Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND), an NGO which works with local councils across the UK to ensure Islamophobia is part of their hate crime strategy, has called for within Solihull’s Conservative group to investigate both incidents.

MEND Midlands Regional Manager, Azhar Qayum told The Muslim News that, “While some of the offensive tweets were the words of the councillors themselves, many were in fact retweets. However, retweeting offensive and prejudiced views clearly demonstrates both support for these sentiments, and attempts to achieve wider support.”

“MEND urges the Conservative Party to investigate Islamophobia within Solihull’s Conservative group, as the failure of fellow Conservative councillors to report xenophobic, racist and Islamophobic comments is indicative that many within the Conservative group may find these views acceptable,” said Qayum.

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