Baroness Warsi has reportedly made divisive comments claiming that Jews, Sikhs and black people do not do enough to speak out against the far-right and anti-Muslim hatred.
According to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, Baroness Warsi told a meeting: “While they represent a minority within a minority, it is extremely distasteful to see that the [English Defence League] have Sikh, Jewish, and black chapters. More leaders of those communities need to stand up with Muslims to challenge Islamophobia.”
To the extent of our knowledge, there are fewer than a dozen members of the English Defence League’s so-called “Jewish Division” which has not surfaced in the news since 2012. The Jewish Division’s leader left in 2011, citing “Nazis within” and when a replacement was found in 2012, the Jewish Division was revealed by the JC as having “around a dozen members, only a few of whom are actually Jewish.” Of course, no British Jew should be associated with the English Defence League, but in any community there will be a small number who will defy their community and engage with extremists, and such a small and inactive contingent is hardly a sign of a significant problem.
On the contrary, the Jewish community has been at the forefront of fighting the far-right throughout living memory, and various Jewish leaders and organisations have taken a leading role in fighting anti-Muslim hatred, even going so far as donating their own time and money to help set up organisations which combat anti-Muslim hate.
Baroness Warsi baited the Jewish community only months ago when she claimed in March that British Jews who volunteer for the Israeli Defence Force should be prosecuted as though they had been fighting for genocidal terrorist groups such as ISIS.
If Baroness Warsi’s latest comments have been reported accurately, then they are divisive baiting of the Jewish community showing total ingratitude and ignorance, and she should apologise for them. Both Baroness Warsi and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims should recognise the Jewish community’s outstanding and disproportionate contribution to opposing the far-right, including the English Defence League, and to assisting the fight against racism including anti-Muslim hatred.
The matter was brought to our attention by our friends at the Network of Sikh Organisations, which also took issue with Baroness Warsi’s reported comments, saying: “We are saddened and disappointed by these comments. We take the view that this issue is being inflated in a way to denigrate the Sikh community.”
We contacted Baroness Warsi five days ago to ask for clarification but have yet to receive a response.
@SayeedaWarsi: while they represent a minority within a minority, it is extremely distasteful to see that the EDL have #Sikh, #Jewish, and #black chapters. More leaders of those #communities need to stand up with #Muslims to challenge #Islamophobia@RunnymedeTrust#Islamophobia20
— British Muslims (@APPGBritMuslims) November 14, 2017