Archdeacon Slams George Galloway for 'Israel-Free Zone' Comments
A former Archdeacon of Bradford has condemned local MP George Galloway's controversial declaration that the city should be an "Israel-free zone", saying it would harm the city's reputation.
The local Telegraph & Argus paper reports that Canon Guy Wilkinson made the comments as an online petition at change.org calling for Galloway to be prosecuted reached 4,100 signatures. Campaigners say that Galloway should be prosecuted under section 5(1) of the Public Order Act 1986, which criminalises threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour.
Canon Wilkinson, who is now vicar for the Anglican parish of St Andrew's, Fulham Fields and Area Dean of Hammersmith and Fulham in London said:
"It's an absurd thing to say anyway and completely unjustified.
"I saw these statements made by Mr Galloway and it seemed to me that they did nothing for the reputation of Bradford. It has always been open to all kinds of people.
"It was a thoroughly disgraceful thing for him to say that Israeli people were no longer welcome in Bradford.
"Bradford does not need that type of reputation. But it needs to build on the reputation that it welcomes all people. Bradford needs to flourish."
Last week, the Bradford West MP said that Israeli tourists should not be welcome in the city, and called for Israeli academics to be banned from local educational institutions.
"We have declared Bradford an Israeli-free zone," he said.
"We don't want any Israeli goods, we don't want any Israeli services, we don't want any Israeli academics coming to the university or college, we don't even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford, even if any of them had thought of doing so."
Dr Irene Lancaster of Salford's Broughton Park Jewish Christian Dialogue Group also condemned Mr Galloway: "He is demonising a whole people. I don't know if I want to go to Bradford anymore. I'm scared to go there."
A spokesman for George Galloway said: "It's a complete and utter nonsense that people have done an online petition. These people should have more to do with their time. The police have not been in touch with us."