Tory candidate who claimed Jews had been 'brainwashed' suspended by the party

PUBLISHED: 14:14 20 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:14 20 November 2019

Amjad Bashir at the European Parliament. Photograph: European Parliament

Amjad Bashir at the European Parliament. Photograph: European Parliament

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A Tory candidate who claimed British Jews had been 'brainwashed' has been suspended by the party - but will still appear on the ballot paper on December 12th.

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Amjad Bashir, who is standing for election in the Leeds North East constituency, was forced to apologise for the remarks he made in the European parliament when he was a UKIP MEP.

A pro-Brexit restaurateur, Bashir was elected as a UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber in 2014 before he defected to the Conservatives in 2015.

He was nominated for the politician of the year award at the British Muslim Awards in the same year.

Bashir claimed that British Jews return from Israel as "extremists" and are "brainwashed" during a debate on Gaza in 2014.

In a speech to a European Parliament human rights sub-committee in September 2014, Mr Bashir said: "I am an MEP but still I am a man of conscience.

"I have been to Gaza in the early 1990s. I saw the despair then, the situation has got a lot worse and the situation has to be tackled, it has to be brought right. It's incumbent on us to put it right.

"As far as brainwashing by the rabbis and the politicians are concerned - I can testify to that.

"Young men are going over from England where I come from - people of the Jewish faith who my grandchildren have grown up with as decent young men.

"But have come back as extremists - as people that are brainwashed.

"They will not listen to reason. There is something very peculiar and wrong going on in Israel."

He has since been suspended from the Conservative Party and has been forced to apologise, insisting he "never held anti-Semitic or intolerant views".

In a letter to the Conservative Friends of Israel parliamentary chairman Lord Pickles, he said: "I want to make unambiguously clear that these are not views I hold now. I apologise unreservedly for the comments I made and the distress they have caused within the Jewish community and other groups.

"I am ready to meet with the Board of Deputies at their earliest possible convenience so they can hear from me directly. I also intend to meet with local Jewish community groups in Leeds North East. I recognise I owe them an apology in person.

"In due course, I plan to travel to Israel to meet with members of the community to gain direct experience from the situation on the ground there.

"The comments I made have caused hurt, for that I apologise unreservedly."

A Conservative spokesman said: "Mr Bashir has been suspended from the party pending investigation and election support has been withdrawn."

It follows the suspension of the Tory candidate for Aberdeen North Ryan Houghton, who referenced the views of discredited historian and Holocaust denier David Irving.

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