October 25, 2023
From Socialist Worker (UK)

A screenshot of the Keir Starmer tweet about the South Wales Muslim centre

Keir Starmer appeared to call on Muslims in South Wales to release Israeli hostage

Leaders of an Islamic centre in South Wales have denounced the way Labour leader Keir Starmer presented his visit to them last week.

In a statement they say, “Keir Starmer’s social media post and images gravely misrepresented our congregants and the nature of the visit.”

Starmer had used Twitter to pose pictures of him meeting Muslims at the centre in Cardiff. He said, “I was grateful to hear from the Muslim community. I repeated our calls for all hostages to be released, more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, for the water and power to be switched back on, and a renewed focus on the two state solution.”

The centre faced a torrent of criticism from Muslims and others for its decision to host Starmer because he had defended Israel’s decision to cut off electricity and water to the Gaza Strip.

There was also deep anger that he had started his post with a call for “hostages to be released” as if Muslims had a special responsibility to make that happen.

The Muslim Association of Britain said Starmer’s visit was a “rather embarrassing photo op for the Labour Party”. 

It added, “Keir Starmer visited a mosque and called for hostages to be released. Are the hostages being held in a South Wales Mosque?”

The centre told Socialist Worker on Thursday, “We would like to make it clear that we are fully supporting our brothers in Palestine. We have taken part in the protests that support them, and we shall do so again.

“We collected donations over the past two weeks for their benefit. We also held a charity event that was entirely for the benefit of Palestine. We pray for their long deserved freedom”.

The centre’s statement issued late on Wednesday evening said, “We fully understand and share the anger many in the Muslim community are feeling, both here in Wales and across the UK. We apologise for the hurt and confusion that our hosting of this visit has caused. 

“We recognise that while our intention was to raise the issue of suffering of Palestinians, regrettably the outcome has put the South Wales Islamic Centre and the wider Muslim community into disrepute.” 

Starmer and other  senior Labour figures have tried to explain away their support for Israel because they fear losing the votes of Muslims.

But many can see through the lies. Shaista Aziz is one of the 23 councillors who have resigned from Labour over Palestine. She said on Thursday. “It’s clear that British Muslims are just not considered politically important by Labour.”

Aziz added, “While it remains to be seen if the much discussed ‘Muslim vote’ holds for Labour, what is very clear from the events of the past two weeks is that we are seen as politically disposable. 

“Starmer and Labour can celebrate their by-election wins, driven by a collapse in the Tory vote, but what they can’t do any more is pretend that their drive to power is in the name of all of Britain’s communities, with its multiracial working class. 

If Labour MPs, councillors and members want to wipe away the shame of their leadership’s position, they have to openly rebel. Statements and resolutions will not be enough. It means being in the streets, urging on resistance to the Tories and Starmer and encouraging revolt. And the conclusion should be to leave Labour and help to build a socialist alternative. 

Source: Socialistworker.co.uk