British MP Protests as Police Question Him Over 'Israel-free Zone' Speech

MP George Galloway: This is a despicable attempt to curb free speech by people who find it excusable 'to incinerate innocent children and babies.'

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Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, right, presents British MP George Galloway with a map showing Israel as a Palestinian state, in a photo released by Hamas in 2009.
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, right, presents British MP George Galloway with a map showing Israel as a Palestinian state, in a photo released by Hamas in 2009.Credit: Reuters

The British politician who declared the West Yorkshire city of Bradford an "Israel-free zone" has been questioned by police under caution after claims that he incited racial hatred, British media outlets reported this week.

MP George Galloway, who spoke voluntarily to detectives after they traveled to London to question him, said the interrogation infringed on his freedom of speech.

"This is an absolute and despicable attempt to curb my freedom of speech by people who appear to be quite happy about the indiscriminate murder of Palestinians in Gaza," Sky News quoted Galloway as saying. "I won't be silenced. I will keep speaking out against horrendous injustice."

Galloway said the questioning was a waste of police time initiated "by people who apparently find it excusable to incinerate innocent children and babies," the Guardian reported. "I am confident that at the end of this charade, my right to speak the truth will be upheld," he added.

The matter will be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration once the investigation is complete, a police spokesman told the Guardian.

The Respect party representative, who was hailed by a Hamas official as a "hero" when he visited the Gaza Strip in 2009, "is understood to believe" he won't be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred, Sky News reported.

On Tuesday, Daniel Taub, Israel's ambassador to Britain, visited Bradford and tweeted a picture of himself with an Israeli flag in the city, an act described as a "deliberate provocation" by Zulfi Karim, secretary of the Bradford Council for Mosques, the Guardian said. Karim called on both Galloway and Taub to stop using the city for their own political ends, the paper said.

Although Bradford has been identified with anti-Israel sentiment since Galloway said earlier this month that the city rejects "this illegal barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel" and doesn't want any Israeli goods, services, academics or tourists, it was just last year that Karim and other members of the Muslim community in the area jumped in to save the city's last synagogue.

"This real Bradford has a great deal to teach the world about a multicultural city where Christians, Muslims and Jews live, work and cooperate together," the Guardian quoted Taub as saying. "It's a much-needed model of how people who may not agree about everything can still listen to each other, hear each other, and treat each other with genuine respect."

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