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The Telegraph
The Telegraph
24 Feb 2024
Edward Malnick

Ministry of Justice hosted speaker who said 'Jews need to get in the queue behind Muslims'

The Ministry of Justice hosted a speaker who previously said that “Jews need to get in the queue behind Muslims”, in response to concerns about anti-Semitism.

The guest speaker at an event hosted by the department’s Muslim staff network on Feb 6 was Shreen Mahmood, an ambassador for World Hijab Day, which encourages women to wear a hijab for the day.

Ms Mahmood describes herself as “an advocate for all human rights and freedoms” and says she is against “all types of racism and hate”.

But her appearance at the event has prompted concern among Whitehall sources due to some of her past posts on X formerly Twitter.

In 2018, Ms Mahmood, 37, posted comments which appeared to downplay the level of anti-Semitism being described by Jewish figures, during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party.

More recently, on Oct 7, she retweeted a series of posts apparently seeking to justify the terror attack on Israeli citizens by Hamas, including one that stated: “Under international law, Palestine, as occupied territory, has every right to defend itself just like Ukraine does.”

This weekend, she defended the post, saying: “I believe it’s a factual position, as enshrined in resolution by the UN General Assembly, which reaffirmed ‘…the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial domination, apartheid and foreign occupation by all available means’.”

Jews need to get in the queue behind Muslims

Another post that she retweeted on Oct 7 stated: “The arrogance to believe you could keep two million trapped in an open-air prison indefinitely...”

In an earlier post, on Aug 17 2018, in response to concerns expressed by a Jewish man about the threat from anti-Semitism, Ms Mahmood said: “Seriously, Jews need to get in the queue behind Muslims, who are visibly Muslims and ARE being attacked. Their rights to exist and express their faith in Britain are under constant scrutiny.

“Muslims are persecuted worldwide. Uyghurs, Rohingyans, Palestinians – the list goes on.”

In another post, on the evening of April 2 2018, Ms Mahmood tweeted, “If anyone mentions anti-Semitism tomorrow”, alongside an image of someone rolling their eyes.

It is not clear if Ms Mahmood had been referring to any particular incident. However, earlier that day it had emerged that more than 17,000 Labour members had quit the party in the previous three months amid a crisis over anti-Semitism. Mr Corbyn had also just shut down his personal Facebook page after being accused of belonging to groups in which people had posted anti-Semitic content.

A Whitehall source said it was “reprehensible” that Ms Mahmood had been given a platform by the Ministry of Justice given views she had previously expressed.

At one point during her talk, she urged officials to “speak up” about the “atrocities” in Gaza. This weekend, Ms Mahmood said her address was focused on World Hijab Day and helping to create “an understanding about what Hijab is and means to Muslims, the discrimination we face and it was very positively received by all”.

Locked her account on X

After being contacted by The Telegraph, Ms Mahmood locked her account on X from public view and said she had deleted the two posts about anti-Semitism to “ensure I do not upset my valued brothers and sisters from the Jewish community”.

She said that the tweets about anti-Semitism, “removed from the context of my work within all communities and humanitarian work... are not an accurate depiction of my overall contribution to cohesion, love and respect within society”.

She added: “The two comments were never intended to take away from anti-Semitism and I regret how it may come across without context.

“The comments were made in the context of the wall-to-wall coverage on anti-Semitism during the Labour Party anti-Semitism row, personal experiences of Islamophobia and this was at a time when Home Office data was showing that 50 per cent of all religiously motivated hate crime was against Muslims.

“My comment was to point out that other types of religious abuse, especially Islamophobia, was being ignored by much of the media, political parties and authorities.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Ms Mahmood was invited as UK Ambassador for World Hijab Day to speak at an event designed to broaden staff understanding of the Muslim faith and it was made clear to her that these were the only parameters on which she was invited to speak. The organisers of the event were not aware of these social media posts.”