A member of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s “Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm” has stepped down from his position after allegedly making inflammatory remarks online.
Toyin Agbetu reportedly said in a blog post that there was an “immoral hierarchy of suffering”, whereby victims of the Holocaust have been “served well by Nazi hunters” compared to African victims of the slave trade.
He also apparently defended a lecturer who urged his students to read The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, a racist tome by the antisemitic hate preacher Louis Farrakhan. The book claims that the Jews played an essential role in the transatlantic slave trade, which is a baseless antisemitic trope. Mr Agbetu defended a book by the same academic, The Jewish Onslaught, which was apparently condemned as antisemitic even by the academic’s own faculty when it was published in 1994. In 2007, Mr Agbetu said of the academic that “his alleged ‘crime’ was being the author of a book that explored the role of Jews in the Maafa [black genocide].”
According to the Jewish News, Mr Agbetu signed a letter criticising the whitewash Chakrabarti Report into antisemitism in the Labour Party on the basis that it was unwittingly discriminatory as “racism against Jewish people is set apart from racism and prejudice against other people.”
Mr Agbetu reportedly further compared British people to Nazis at a commemoration of the abolition of the slave trade, where he said: “All of you sitting here are disrespecting my ancestors. In the history of the Maafa [black genocide], the British are the Nazis.”
Mr Agbetu was one of fifteen individuals appointed to the Commission, which aimed to review London landmarks and statues in the wake of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in 2020.
He has apparently not apologised for his comments and wrote on Facebook: “This year the Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey is now attempting a similar Afriphobic campaign. I can’t take the risk that all the gains we have made re BLM unravel so I have had to make a frustrating but strategic move. I voluntarily decided to step back from the post before being asked, to help reduce the attacks on the important work of the commission…They are looking for any means to destroy my reputation.”
It is understood that Mr Agbetu still serves on Hackney’s Review of Public Spaces.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “After we exposed pockets of controversy in the BLM movement, we would have hoped that the City Hall would have taken greater care in the selection of members for its Commission. Clearly, Toyin Agbetu has no place on any body designed to enhance diversity. He is right to resign, but there is nothing ‘strategic’ in avoiding apologising for his past inflammatory comments. Until Mr Agbetu makes amends, no institution should work with him.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.