Friday, 6 February 2009

Letters: Aaron Saeed, RE: Peter Tatchell and Adam Yosef Hate Campaign'


Hate campaign

A leading member of George Galloway’s Respect party, Adam Yosef, has urged violence against human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. He has denounced Tatchell as a “hate-mongerer”, listing him as one of Britain’s top-three “hate-filled bigots”. The other two Yosef names are Nick Griffin of the British National Party and muslim fundamentalist cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed.

This astonishing attack was made by Yosef in his column in the Asian weekly entertainment newspaper Desi Xpress (January 6-12). His article advises readers to violently attack Tatchell, stating that he “needs a good slap in the face”. In a naked appeal to homophobia and xenophobia, Yosef goes on to urge Australian-born Tatchell and his “queer campaign army” to “pack their bent bags and head back to Australia”.

Yosef has a history of homophobic outbursts in Desi Xpress. In a December issue of the newspaper (issue 42), he ridiculed same-sex civil partnerships: “Hmmm ... gay weddings ... gay people and commitment? I don’t think so ... They’ll be shagging the neighbours before they even cut the cake. Bad idea, I’m afraid. Great way of evading tax though …”

As well as being a prominent member of Galloway’s Respect party, Yosef has done press and PR work for Respect leaders such as Salma Yaqoob and Dr Mohammed Naseem. Dr Naseem is also home affairs spokesperson for the Islamic Party of Britain, which advocates the death penalty for homosexuality and the banning of gay organisations. Yosef is a leading light in the Stop the War Coalition and has worked with the SWP.

This is a new low for members of Respect and the STWC. Equating an anti-racist such as Peter Tatchell with a racist such as Nick Griffin is sick. It shows the dishonesty and opportunism that now characterises George Galloway’s Respect party. Inciting violence against Peter not only brings shame and dishonour to Respect - it is also a criminal offence.

Taken together, the headlines, content and tone of Yosef’s article is likely to stir up hatred against Tatchell and put him at risk of violent attack. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that Peter is “hate-filled” or a “bigot”. On the contrary, his human rights work involves challenging hatred, prejudice, discrimination and violence against all communities. He has a long and proud record of defending the Asian and muslim communities against prejudice and racism.

We call on Respect and the Stop The War Coalition to condemn Adam Yosef’s incitement to homophobia, violence and xenophobia, and to expel him from their organisations. There can be no place in a progressive movement for people who encourage homophobia, violence and xenophobia.

We urge Desi Xpress to publish a full apology to Peter Tatchell and to carry an interview with him about his work for universal human rights. Yosef freelances for BBC Online and BBC Birmingham. We hope the BBC will cease employing him. His encouragement of homophobia, violence and xenophobia is incompatible with the BBC’s commitment to equality and diversity.

Aaron Saeed

Source: Weekly Worker newspaper (UK)

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