In September 2010, an allegation was made against me that I had posted anti-Semitic comments on the social networking website, Facebook.
At the time of this incident, I was a member of Respect’s National Council and was the General Secretary of the Tower Hamlets branch.
As a result of this allegation, which was initially made by a blogger, I was expelled from the Respect Party.
The expulsion occurred after a phone call between the party’s top brass [Chair, Secretary and Treasurer], and was within hours of the blog piece being published.
Sadly, the charges were never put to me for comment, before this ad-hoc disciplinary committee decided to expel me.
Essentially, I was tried by the ‘media’ and executed by the party that I had loyally served for two years, without being asked to say anything in my defence.
After the party decided to expel me via a press release [that is how I found out!], a handful of mainstream media outlets decided to pick up on the story.
The chain of events was totally bizarre and incredulous.
Usually in such circumstances, a credible political party would suspend a member pending a full investigation.
Up until now, I have been advised not to publicly respond to any of these allegations.
However, the original allegations and their recent repetition four years on, have warranted a formal and public response from myself.
Firstly, the comments that have been attributed to myself, were not made by me.
I accept that the Facebook account used was mine and the childish comments that were posted around 3am, were the result of a phenomenon that is colloquially known as a frape.
A friend had gained access to my autosaved login credentials – through me using their device to check my Facebook some hours earlier – and decided to post some silly ‘statuses’ on Facebook.
Their motivation for such actions was simply boredom. Do bear in mind that I was 22 around that time and my friend was younger than me.
On one of the statuses, the word Jew was used multiple times to describe my supposed selfish and money-hungry behaviour.
Growing up in the Eastend of London, the word ‘Jew’ was and still is very loosely used by many working class communities in a derogatory manner.
I fully accept that the use of such words were and are crude and stupid.
However, the intent behind their use by my friend [pretending to be me] was not anti-Semitic, nor designed to incite any hatred or violence towards the Jewish community.
Naturally, I appealed against my expulsion from the Respect Party and was readmitted and reinstated to my roles, a few months later – I have the documents for anybody who wishes to review them.
Now, the real question is this… why was I targeted?
The answer to that is simple. I was active in local politics and had stood in the council elections in May 2010.
I was also one of the community organisers working to elect the independent mayoral candidate, Lutfur Rahman, who had falsely and viciously been smeared as a sympathiser of Islamic extremists.
By targeting and character assassinating myself, certain members of the right-wing press wanted to further tarnish the reputation of Mr Rahman.
There is a strong contingent in the mainstream media that does not like articulate British Muslims engaging in public life and is hellbent on destroying them.
I believe I have been a victim of such gutter journalism, which seeks to divide communities and incite anti-Muslim sentiment.
I have spent countless hours working on interfaith initiatives that aim to foster unity amongst different faith groups, including working with the Jewish community. I also have many friends who are ethnically Jewish.
Having been a victim of racism in my childhood, I abhor and condemn all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.
I hope this statement will finally lay to bed these allegations, which have significantly tarnished my reputation amongst my peers.