Tower Hamlets councillor cleared of antisemitism, readmitted into Labour Party

Puru Miah

A Muslim Tower Hamlets councillor has been reinstated into the Labour Party after he was cleared in an investigation into alleged antisemitism.

Last November Puru Miah was suspended for a Facebook post he made in 2014 (before he was a Labour member) about a book called “The Invention of the Jewish People” by Israeli historian Shlomo Sand.

The book argues that most modern Jews descend from converts whose native lands were scattered across the Middle East and Eastern Europe, rather than Israel.

Miah, who was suspended days after appearing on a 5Pillars show, subsequently apologised for the hurt caused by his post but not for the content of the post itself.

But 5Pillars has now seen a Labour Party letter to Miah which says that a Labour panel met on March 25th and found that Miah’s “behaviour on this occasion did not amount to a breach of the party’s rules.” The letter said that his administrative suspension has been lifted and there are no longer any restrictions placed on his membership.

However the panel considered it appropriate to remind Miah of the “high standards of conduct the party expects of its members.”

The letter said: “The Labour party believes that we must create for all of us a community where we live together freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect. To this end we work for a just society which delivers people from the tyranny of poverty, prejudice, and the abuse of power.

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“Labour is the party of equality and strongly believes that no one should feel discriminated against or harassed due to their race, religion or any other protected characteristic, whether inside the party or wider society. Labour is an anti-racist party, committed to combating and campaigning against all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia.

“We must insure that the party is a welcoming home to the members of all communities, with no place for any place or any discrimination based on race, ethnicity or religion. These principles form part of the basis on which Labour seeks the trust of the people to govern.

“All members have pledged to act in accordance of the spirit and letter of these principles. Any behaviour or use of language which contravenes our values can undermine our ability to campaign against prejudice and injustice and is unacceptable conduct within the Labour Party. The party expects you, in common with all members, to engage in civil, measured discourse, especially on social media.”

Following his suspension last year 26 East London Muslim faith leaders expressed outrage at the circumstances surrounding the suspension of Councillor Miah who represents the Mile End ward.

The letter said: “At a time when Muslim members are publicly tearing up their Labour membership cards and a large number of Muslims reporting their experiences of prejudice in the party, Puru has been a lonely voice inviting us to continue our engagement with the Labour Party.

“The indignation in the community at his suspension is heightened, precisely because the suspension took place days after Puru discussed Islamophobia in the Labour Party at a Muslim news magazine. The official reason given to the media, being a Facebook Post made prior to his membership in the party. We feel further aggrieved as this stands in stark contrast to the inaction by the local party to multiple complaints of Islamophobia against prominent members and elected officials.

“We write this letter because we fear, a local Labour Party without the confidence of the Muslim community will damage the prospects of both the community and the Labour Party, as it did in 2010.”

Miah’s suspension came days after a report found huge levels of dissatisfaction and distrust in the Labour Party by its own Muslim members and supporters.

The report, commissioned by the Labour Muslim Network, found that 46% of Muslim members and supporters believe the Labour Party does not represent the Muslim community effectively, whereas only 29% feel that it does.

The survey also found that 59% of Muslim members and supporters do not feel “well represented by the leadership of the Labour Party.” And 55% said they do not “trust the leadership of the Labour Party to tackle Islamophobia effectively.”

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