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Issue 286, Friday 22 February 2013 - 12 Rabi' al-Akhar 1434

Tory Councillor suspended over Facebook comments

By Elham Asaad Buaras

Enfield Cllr Chris Joannides (inset) used this photograph to mock niqab wearing women

A Tory Enfield councillor has been suspended after apparently posting Islamophobic comments and complaints that his job was getting in the way of his social life were found on his Facebook page.

Grange Ward Councillor, Chris Joannides, is facing disciplinary action after a series of Islamophobic comments were posted under his name on the social networking site.

According to the Guardian Joannides posted a photograph of a niqab clad woman and child with two black bags of rubbish on either side of them with the commentary: “I saw her standing there and I told her she had three beautiful children... It was an honest mistake!”

Joannides has now deleted his Facebook account but print-outs of the comments were shown to Tory group leader by a member of the public on January 15.

However, the Councillor, who is of Greek-Cypriot heritage, has stressed that he is not an Islamophobe insisting the comment was aimed at “Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism including the demonisation of women, something the whole world is concerned about in the light of terrorist attacks on the West since September 11.”

Enfield Council admitted there was an investigation into the Councillor’s apparent statements. A Council spokesman told The Muslim News: “We have received a complaint which we are currently investigating. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

The Secretary of the Edmonton Islamic Centre in Raynham Road in Upper Edmonton, Tariq Chaudhri, said he is “shocked” at Conservative Councillor Joannides’ posts on Facebook.

“A person in his position should not be saying such things even as a joke. The Conservative Party should ask him to go home – he clearly doesn’t like the job he is doing so he should leave,” said Chaudhri.

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