In April last year, Abdul Zaman, the Deputy Chairman of the Bradford Conservative Association, was suspended after making ‘antisemitic’ comments in support of local Conservative council candidate Sajid Akhtar.
The comments, delivered in the Mirpuri dialect, concerned the cohesion of the Biradari system, a system of politics which has caused major problems in Bradford. In his speech, delivered in a busy street, Mr Zaman called on his community to vote for Akhtar “so that the Jews and Christians know that we are one Biradari.”
This has been interpreted as either a message of unity, or as one of division, telling the local community to show Jews and Christians that they will adhere to the Biradri system and not be divided. Interpretation is made more difficult by the fact that Mirpuri is a purely oral dialect, and various phrases used in the speech can have different literal translations.
Local Bradford MP, Naz Shah, complained about the speech in a letter to the Prime Minister and Mr Zaman was suspended by the Conservative Party.
During disciplinary deliberations, it was agreed that Mr Zaman’s choice of words was not antisemitic, but it was unhelpfully open to interpretation. Mr Zaman apologised for using unclear language and was advised to use language more readily understandable by the wider community in the future.
The Party has provided Campaign Against Antisemitism with footage of the speech, along with a certified expert translation. The Chairman of the Bradford Conservative Association and the Conservative Party leader on City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council have given us a transparent account of their handling of the incident, and the handling of the incident by Conservative Campaign Headquarters.
We find no reason to criticise the conduct of this case, and are pleased that the Party has engaged with us so transparently.
We are now discussing the case of Dr Felix Aubel with the Conservative Party, which requires urgent rectification. Dr Aubel appeared to call in a tweet for a new Spanish Inquisition across the whole of Europe. A spokesman for the Welsh Conservative Party distanced the Party from Dr Aubel’s views, but that is not enough and Dr Aubel should be investigated according to the Party’s disciplinary process.