Burnley councillor Shah Hussain has been suspended by the Labour Party over a Twitter exchange he made with Israeli international footballer Yossi Benayoun in 2014.
Coun. Hussain, who represents Daneshouse and Stoneyholme ward, is being investigated over a Tweet he sent to Benayoun comparing the Jewish footballer to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
Any expression of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and racism in the party has got to be addressed.Burnley Council leader Coun. Mark Townsend
The incident is the latest controversy to hit the Labour Party in recent days.
Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended recently after claiming Hitler was a Zionist who supported the state of Israel.
The tweet that Coun. Hussain sent to Benayoun, who was playing for Queen’s Park Rangers at the time, read: “You are a complete and utter plonker, you and your country doing the same thing that Hitler did to ur (sic) race in ww2.”
Coun. Hussain also interjected in a Twitter exchange between Benayoun and his then QPR team-mate Joey Barton:
“Yossi ur (sic) an idiot, looks like Hartson didn’t kick you hard enough in the head, Joey top man!! #FreePalestine.”
The tweet referred mistakenly to an incident involving John Hartson, who did infamously kick a team-mate in the head, although it was another Jewish footballer, Eyal Berkovic.
Burnley Labour leader, Coun. Mark Townsend, confirmed that Coun. Hussain has been suspended by the party pending an investigation.
He said: “I was made aware of the tweet on Monday and immediately forwarded it to the national party.
“It is currently being investigated and in the meantime Shah Hussain has been suspended pending the outcome.
“On a wider issue I would say that any expression of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and racism in the party has got to be addressed.
“The Labour Party has a zero tolerance policy on this and due process will now take place.”
In his defence, Coun. Hussain re-posted the Twitter exchange on his Facebook page on Monday evening.
He said: “Yes, little me is being investigated like Ken Livingstone, apparently the tweets are anti-Semitic.
“Let me make it clear am not anti-Semitic. I AM anti-Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu, they have systematically persecuted and occupied the Palestinian people and their lands.
“God willing I will continue to speak out against the persecution of the Palestinian people. #FreePalestine below are copies of tweets, they are in response to tweets made by the brilliant @joey7Barton.”