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Islamic leader Tariq Chaudhri of Edmonton Islamic Centre 'shocked' at Conservative Councillor Chris Joannides' controversial burqa comments
An Islamic community leader claims a councillor should consider stepping down following his controversial comments on a social networking site.
The secretary of the Edmonton Islamic Centre in Raynham Road in Upper Edmonton, Tariq Chaudhri, says he is “shocked” at Conservative Councillor Chris Joannides’ posts on Facebook which led to his suspension from the party.
According to the Guardian newspaper, material comparing Muslim burqas to dustbin bags and complaints that his job was getting in the way of his social life were found on the Bush Hill Park councillor’s page.
Mr Chaudhri told the Enfield Independent: “I am really shocked, it is obnoxious what he is posting on Facebook.
“A person in his position should not be saying such things even as a joke.
“I think the Conservative party should ask him to go home – he clearly doesn’t like the job he is doing so he should leave.”
He said it is particularly shocking given the large Islamic population living in the councillor’s constituency, which amounts to 25,000 people.
The councillor, who can continue to attend council meetings during his suspension but is not considered a member of the Conservative party, has launched a legal battle against the Guardian to clear his name.
The Greek Cypriot politician denies allegations of Islamophobia and said his comments instead related to Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism including “demeaning attitudes” towards women.
He told the Enfield Independent earlier today: "I am from an ethnic minority myself and I fully appreciate the prejudices people can get exposed to."
He said the comments were taken "out of order" and "stitched together" to make a new story, and comments regarding residents’ meetings were “tongue in the cheek” and “bloke-ish banter” with friends and he intended no disrespect.
The leader of Enfield’s Conservatives, Councillor Michael Lavender, said the group are making arrangements to fix a next group meeting to discuss the issue.