An imam from Bristol who appeared on the BBC Tory leadership debate last night has been suspended from his job after right-wing media attacks accused him of “anti-Semitism.”
In a statement the Al-Madani Educational Trust which runs Al-Ashraf Primary School in Gloucester, said Abdullah Patel been suspended “from all school duties” while it investigated comments attributed to him in the media.
Mr Patel, who managed to get the Tory leadership candidates to agree to establishing an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party, is deputy head of the girls’ school.
The row erupted after right -wing media branded the imam “anti-Semetic” and said he posted messages praising Jeremy Corbyn and blaming women for rape.
In one tweet Patel wrote: “Lets make something clear: Generally, men are the predators, but women need to realise this and be smarter. It takes 2 to tango, and if you put yourself in that position, don’t expect every man to pass up the opportunity to take advantage of you. Don’t be alone with a man!”
He also posted a graphic once retweeted by Labour MP Naz Shah that saw her suspended by the Labour Party in 2016. It showed Israel’s outline superimposed on to a map of the US under the headline: Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States.
Alongside the image, Patel wrote: “FOUND THE SOLUTION! America wants to look after Israel? I’ve got a way to make them neighbours! (Until Israel attack).”
In another tweet he wrote: “Every political figure on Zionist’s payroll is scaring the world about Corbyn. They don’t like him. He seems best suited to tackle them!”
Today Patel deleted his Twitter account after the attacks on him.
Speaking to BBC Radio Gloucestershire, Mr Patel said he had a very good relationship with the Jewish community.
“The criticism was not of the Jewish community because if you go through my tweets, you’d see support for the Jewish community,” he said. “They’re our brothers and sisters, and the Jewish community and I – especially in Gloucester – work very closely together. We actually visited a synagogue just a while ago.”
However, he said he stood by any criticism of “Israel’s policy”.
A BBC spokesperson said: “Had we been aware of the views he expressed there he would not have been selected.”
The BBC said it had carried out background research into all of the social media accounts of the guests.
“Following the debate, one individual reactivated a public twitter account he had previously deactivated, whose tweets were not visible during our research period,” said a spokesperson.