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Muslim backs terror, claims MP under the protection of Parliament
By Nicholas Watt, political correspondent
London, The Guardian:
A Labour MP yesterday sparked a furious row by using parliamentary privilege to claim that the Muslim Association of Britain, which helped to organise this year's anti-war marches, supports terrorism.
In a Commons speech, which is protected from libel proceedings, Louise Ellman accused the association's senior spokesman of inciting racial hatred against British Jews after he allegedly voiced strong support for Palestinian suicide bombers.
Azzam Tamimi, a Palestinian academic who is one of the association's main faces, last night challenged Ms Ellman to repeat her remarks outside the Commons. "She is abusing parliament," he said.
His remarks came after Ms Ellman declared it was time for the "spotlight to fall" on Dr Tamimi because of his role in "preaching hatred against Jews".
To support her case, Ms Ellman cited a series of speeches in which Dr Tamimi, who describes himself as a "sympathiser and supporter" of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, attacked Israel and supported suicide bombers.
At a conference in South Africa last year, Dr Tamimi allegedly said: "Do not call them suicide bombers, call them Shuhada [martyrs]. They [Israelis] have guns, we have human bombs. We love death, they love life."
Dr Tamimi was also quoted by Ms Ellman as saying:
· "For us Muslim martyrdom is not the end of things but the beginning of the most wonderful of things."
· Israel would be destroyed and replaced by an Islamic state. At that point, he allegedly told a conference in Vienna, Jews should "sail on the sea in ships back to where they came from and all drown in it".
· At a Palestinian Solidarity rally at Westminster last year, Dr Tamimi allegedly said: "Listen, Israel and Jews around the world, unless you change there is no future for you."
Ms Ellman, the MP for Liverpool Riverside, told the Commons that the Muslim Association of Britain should disown Dr Tamimi. "This is not a man of peace," she said.
"He and his arguments incite hatred against Jews. Messages put out by this association and other Islamist groups, together with the far right, the traditional anti-semites, incite growing violence against Jews in the UK."
Dr Tamimi reacted angrily to Ms Ellman's speech. "I challenge her to say these things outside parliament and I will take her to court," he said. "She is abusing parliament, the British system."
But he declined to disassociate himself from the quotes attributed to him. He said: "I am an open book. My lectures are open and are on the net. I have nothing to be ashamed of."
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