“How long are Zionists going to hide behind the Holocaust,” tweeted imam Abdullah Patel, a BBC handpicked guest for the Conservative Party candidates debate on Tuesday.
The imam cautioned the Tory candidates that “words have consequences”, referencing Boris Johnson’s remarks that Muslim women wearing burkas looked like ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’.
From Patel’s Twitter feed, it appears as though words only have consequences when they may be Islamophobic.
The Holocaust tweet in full read: “How long are the Zionists going to hide behind the Holocaust cry? It was a tragedy, but Gaza today is a repeat of the oppression.”
Patel also tweeted an illustration of Israel being relocated to the United States, captioning it a “solution for Israel-Palestine conflict”.
The imam appeared on BBC Gloucester Wednesday to explain himself. He says that the comments were made five years ago and the criticism were not of the Jewish community.
Receiving a multitude of criticism, the BBC News Press Team released a statement earlier this morning, saying:
“We carried out background research into the online and social media profiled of all our questioners for last night’s debate.”
They claim a lack of knowledge of the tweets, due to the imam’s account being deactivated prior to the debate and reactivated after.
“Had we been aware of the views he expressed there he would not have been selected.”
Patel has since deleted his Twitter account.
— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) June 19, 2019
BBC Radio 5 Live’s Nicky Campbell also apologized: “[The imam’s] social media comments have been extremely disturbing. We should have checked. We didn’t. I’m sorry.”
Both Patel’s mosque and the primary school he works at in Gloucester have suspended him.
The BBC is coming under additional heat for the debate, as one of the other questioners worked for the opposition Labour Party. Aman Thackar was hired by Labour in 2018 as a legal assistant.
The BBC failed to disclose Thackar’s partisan bent before bringing him onto the programme to quiz the Tory leadership hopefuls.