Jewish anti-racism activists have disrupted a talk by the controversial media commentators Melanie Phillips and Douglas Murray over concerns about Islamophobia.
The Jewish News reports that both writers spoke at a talk on Tuesday organised as part of Jewish Book Week when the Jewish Solidarity Action protesters were removed from the venue by security.
Footage released online by the group shows activists holding up a banner marked “Say no to Islamophobia” from a balcony at the London event.
A spokesperson for the campaign criticised organisers for hosting an event “with speakers who have repeatedly been accused of spreading anti-Muslim hatred.”
“At a time when many migrants and people of colour in this country feel under attack from the government, and the far-right is on the rise, it is absolutely crucial that we build safety through solidarity,” the spokesperson said.
“For Jewish Book Week to host this event sends a message that the Jewish community is not willing to stand in solidarity with our Muslim siblings against the bigotry they face in the media,” the spokesperson added.
Over the years Phillips has repeatedly been accused of Islamophobia, and The Jewish Chronicle sparked a backlash last year with its decision to publish an op-ed by her describing the concept of Islamophobia as “profoundly anti-Jew.”
“To equate it with the dehumanising, insane and essentially murderous outpourings of Jew-hatred is obscene,” the columnist wrote.
The newspaper’s editor Stephen Pollard later apologised to “any reader … angered or upset by the piece” in a statement acknowledging criticism.
Phillips told Jewish News on Wednesday: “As the audience who called for these intruders to be thrown out made very clear, their attempt to smear and intimidate stands directly against the Jewish ethic of truth-telling, reasoned discussion and resistance to bigotry.”
Meanwhile, campaigners criticised Murray, an associate editor at the Spectator, for previously describing the term Islamophobia as a “crock term.”
The writer had made the comment last year in a piece for the weekly magazine entitled “The false equivalence between ‘Islamophobia’ and antisemitism.”
Those who “wield the term”, he wrote, “seem to hope that they can present the situation of Muslims in modern Europe as so dire that they have pretty much already suffered an equal amount to the Jews of Europe in the twentieth century.”
Murray is a frequent critic of Islam, and has identified what he sees as “a creed of Islamic fascism – a malignant fundamentalism, woken from the Dark Ages to assault us here and now.”