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British election candidate dumped by Labor over 10-year-old tweets about Israel and Islamophobia

LONDON: Labor bosses have banned a candidate from standing in the upcoming UK general election over a handful of interactions on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, over the past 10 years.

Once, economist and academician Faiza Shaheen “liked” a video of a television comedy sketch about Israel by the renowned American comedian Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program The Daily Show. In another, she wrote about her own experiences with Islamophobia within the Labor Party.

Shaheen said she was informed Wednesday night that she could not stand for the party in the election after being called to a meeting to discuss allegations of anti-Semitism and other misconduct. She told BBC Newsnight on Wednesday that she was shocked to receive an email confirming her candidacy had been blocked.

“Fourteen tweets since 2014 – 10 years,” she said. “Three of them were about the Green Party, me liking my friends’ tweets before I joined Labour, and one of them was about my experience of Islamophobia in the party.

“How I’m not allowed to talk about my experiences with Islamophobia and the double standards I’ve seen.”

Shaheen, an academic who specializes in the study of inequality, was presented with a list of tweets earlier in the day, including one that included a clip from The Daily Show in July 2014, in which host Stewart, who is of Jewish heritage, begins discussing about Israel’s ground offensive during the 2014 Gaza war. He is immediately surrounded and berated by four Comedy Central correspondents who, as part of a satirical commentary on the issue, accuse him of being a “Jew hater” for questioning Israel’s actions.

Shaheen’s interaction with the video on social media prompted a complaint from the Labor Party-affiliated Jewish Labor Movement.

“It was the middle of the night if you look at the time. I was probably with the baby, breastfeeding. I don’t even remember liking that tweet,” she said during an appearance on Newsnight.

She later accused Labor of running a “systematic campaign of racism, Islamophobia and intimidation” and claimed the Keir Starmer-led party “has a problem with black and brown people.”

She added that she would challenge the party’s decision in the courts, saying: “This campaign of prejudice, intimidation and mean behavior has finally been rewarded by Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee) and my name has been added to the blacklist. in the candidate club. And not surprisingly, many of those excluded are black.”

Stewart responded to Labour’s lawsuit against Shaheen with a message on Twitter, writing: “This is the dumbest thing the UK has done since Boris Johnson was elected.”

The decision by Labor bosses to bar Shaheen from standing in the Chingford and Woodford Green constituency in north-east London comes amid the party’s campaign for the July 4 general election, which many pundits predict will deliver a landslide victory for the party.

However, the party under Starmer, who became leader in 2020, has faced criticism on a number of issues, including its stance on the Gaza war and its handling of internal affairs.

In 2020, observers ruled the party responsible for “unlawful” acts of anti-Semitic harassment and discrimination during the four-and-a-half-year leadership of Starmer’s predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.

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