Prestwich mosque: Muslim worshipper blasts pro-Israel Tory candidate

The pro-Israel Tory candidate for Bury South, Rabbi Arnie Saunders, was berated by a Muslim worshipper at Bilal Mosque in Prestwich on June 21.

Footage on social media shows a man calling for Saunders to condemn Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The man says: “Condemn the IDF, condemn the killing of children, of women, of old people, of livestock.”

The man continues: “Tell him to go. He should go. Ask him to go. We don’t want to engage with you people. We don’t want to engage with you. You justify child killers. You say that it’s right that they cut off water and electricity supplies. You say that and then you come here and smile like a snake.”

He added: “You’re not getting our vote.”

Saunders was apparently invited to meet the congregation by the mosque committee but had to leave after being challenged over his support for Israel.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said in a statement: “We are disgusted by the abusive treatment of Rabbi Arnold Saunders, a candidate in Bury South.

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“Rabbi Saunders had been invited by the elders of a local mosque; the video shows that some of the attendees took issue with this, and the footage clearly shows the rabbi was being targeted in this fashion due to his religion. We urge all who care about the health of our democracy to call out this bigotry.”

Masjid e Bilal commented: “On the 21st of June 2024, Masjid E Bilal conducted one of a number of its Meet-and-Greet events for prospective Parliamentary candidates of Bury South. Rabbi Arnold Saunders, who is the Conservative candidate, was invited to attend on behalf of the Conservative Party to converse with the congregation, in an open event.

“The event was well received, and the Rabbi was welcomed, and most people present engaged positively with the Rabbi. Unfortunately, one or two individuals, questioned the Rabbi in a hostile manner and this clip has been widely circulated. This clip was recorded by one of the individuals himself.

“The Rabbi was a guest of the mosque, and he was treated inappropriately and disrespectfully. Any genuine political questions should have been raised respectfully. We regret what has happened, we have already apologised to the Rabbi for how he was treated and wish to extend our apologies to others who have seen the clip and are upset by it.

“This incident is not reflective of the congregation of the mosque or the Muslim community in Bury. Rabbi Saunders, a seasoned politician with many years of experience, and a former member of the Conservative Muslim Forum has himself taken the incident very calmly. He stated, ‘Most of the people there were receptive, but one or two were a bit hostile because of Israel Gaza, but there was nothing antisemitic.’ (reported in the Jewish Telegraph on the 28th of June).

“Masjid E Bilal has a long track record of good inter-faith relations and positive relations with the Jewish and other faith communities. The Muslim community itself suffered some incidents during the this year’s Purim celebrations at the hands of some youth activists. None of these incidents are reflective of most of the people in the area. We call on anyone attending any election events, wherever it may be, to remain calm and respectful whilst questioning candidates or holding politicians to account.”

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