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The Labour candidate for Rochdale, Azhar Ali, has apologised after he reportedly said Israel had been warned about the 7 October attack and allowed it to happen.
The Labour Party released a statement on behalf of the candidate in response to comments made during a recording where he stated that Israel had given a warning about the attack before it occurred, but intentionally removed security measures.
According to reports, Mr. Ali claimed that the Egyptians had given a warning to Israel ten days prior, while the Americans warned them one day before, about a potential event. He also stated that the security was intentionally removed, which allowed for a massacre to occur and gave Israel the freedom to take any action they desired.
The Labour council member is accused of saying that the leader of the Labour party, Keir Starmer, no longer has the support of the members of Parliament. According to him, many non-Muslim MPs he has spoken to feel that Starmer has lost their trust on this matter.
“I would like to express my sincere regret and offer my full apology to the Jewish community for my remarks, which were highly offensive, uninformed, and untrue.”
“Hamas bears full responsibility for the heinous terror attack and must release the hostages they are still holding. The events on October 7th resulted in the largest loss of Jewish lives in a single day since the Holocaust, causing fear among Jews in the UK and worldwide due to increasing antisemitism. I will immediately apologize to Jewish leaders for my unacceptable remarks.”
He stated, “The Labour Party has undergone significant changes under Keir Starmer’s leadership, and I fully support him in bringing about the necessary changes for Britain.”
The by-election is approaching in two weeks, making it impossible for Labour to find a new candidate to replace Mr. Ali. According to Labour MP Pat McFadden, Azhar Ali will still be running as Labour’s candidate in Rochdale.
The remarks are expected to spark a significant conflict within the Labour party, as Sir Keir has faced intense criticism for his handling of the Gaza crisis. In November, 56 Labour MPs went against party lines and supported a call for a ceasefire.
According to a recent survey by the Labour Muslim Network, British Muslims are becoming less confident in the Labour party due to its approach to the Israel-Gaza conflict.
This morning on Sky News, Pat McFadden, the national campaign coordinator for Labour, stated that Mr Ali’s remarks were “entirely incorrect”.
The spokesperson for the opposition party stated: “He has fully apologized and retracted his statement. I hope he takes this as a lesson and refrains from making such remarks in the future.”
According to Mr. McFadden, the statements made by the Labour candidate were entirely inaccurate and should not have been uttered.
The individual has provided a full apology and retraction. I hope they take this as a learning experience and understand that such statements should never be made.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews have denounced Mr Ali’s remarks as “shameful and inexcusable”.
X, in a post on their social media platform, stated:
If it were not too late, we would have urged Labour to find a different candidate to replace Mr. Ali. We believe that Mr. Ali’s apology is insincere.
We understand that Mr. Ali’s apology is not sincere and does not show true remorse. Despite his words, we are unable to communicate with him currently and we believe other prominent Jewish organizations will agree.
The Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region has also issued a statement denouncing the remarks.
On X’s post, they expressed concern about Mr Ali’s remarks, calling them “extremely concerning.” They also stated that the “conspiracy theory” being presented is highly offensive and completely untrue. Given the current widespread antisemitism, this could further escalate the ongoing conflict in Greater Manchester and beyond.
The Labour party has a strong lead of more than 9,000 votes in Rochdale, with 51.6% of the support. Mr. Ali was chosen to run as the Labour candidate in the by-election, after the passing of longtime Labour MP Sir Tony Lloyd.