Calls for Wall End councillor to be suspended over sharing of right-wing activist's video
PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 18:32 29 October 2019
Community groups have expressed deep concern claiming an "inflammatory" anti-Muslim video was shared by a councillor.
Cllr Omana Gangadharan, Labour Party representative for Wall End, allegedly shared a YouTube video posted by Anne Marie Waters - the far right leader of the anti-Islam party For Britain - in WhatsApp group Councillors Indian Origin.
In the video, Ms Waters claims difficulties in the region of Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan are an example of "Muslims refusing to live en mass with everyone else".
She was commenting after the Indian government revoked the special status granted to the state which has been at the centre of a dispute between India, Pakistan and China since 1947.
An apology on social media appearing to be from Cllr Gangadharan said she did not pay "sufficient attention" to the video's content.
"I became aware that the content is extremely unacceptable and offensive. I condemn the video and its presenter and deeply regret being linked to this display of Islamophobia", the statement read. It has since been removed.
Newham Muslim Forum, Newham and Redbridge Imams Forum and MEND Newham urged the council to suspend Cllr Gangadharan pending an investigation.
A MEND spokesman said: "We have observed in the Labour Party swift action being taken against those accused of being antisemitic and rightfully so.
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"We hope to see the same rigour from the council and the Labour Party in standing up to Islamaphobia."
A Newham Council spokeswoman said: "Newham, like all local authorities, does not have any legal power to suspend councillors. The council is treating this matter very seriously."
She added Newham is investigating two complaints while mayor Rokhsana Fiaz has responded to "a number of complaints", advising the Labour Group "takes the issue of hate material very seriously".
East Ham Constituency Labour Party (CLP) has referred the case to the national party.
An East Ham CLP spokesman said: "We have strong policies on Islamophobia and take any such instances very seriously."
Last December, Newham became the first council to adopt the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims' definition of Islamophobia.
Ms Fiaz said at the time: "It's vital we take every measure to combat discrimination and hatred.
"Newham is one of the most diverse boroughs in the UK, where we celebrate and champion our multi-ethnic and multi-religious communities."
Cllr Gangadharan was inivited to comment but chose not to.