Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland MP caught up in Jeremy Corbyn terror wreath-laying row

 

By Mark Bain

Sinn Fein MP Francie Molloy has defended his attendance at a conference in Tunisia in 2014 after which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attended a controversial ceremony in a cemetery.

The conference, hosted by the Center for Strategic Studies for North Africa, took place the day before Mr Corbyn was pictured at a wreath-laying ceremony for terrorists linked to the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.

Mr Corbyn was a guest of honour at the conference, sharing a platform with senior figures from Hamas, which is on the EU's terror blacklist, as well as with a speaker who had compared Israel's actions to Islamic State.

The conference on the Palestinian situation took place in the five-star Le Palace Hotel in the seaside resort of Gammarth and was attended by Tunisian President Dr Moncef Marzouki.

The Mid Ulster republican MP said: "I was more than content to participate in the conference in Tunisia in 2014 which focused on the violation of human rights carried out by the Israeli government on the Palestinian people.

"The conference focused on the deplorable human rights abuses and violations carried out by the Israeli state on the Palestinian people.

"It is an unfortunate reality that these abuses continue on a daily basis.

"I was very pleased to attend the conference alongside international legal experts, human rights activists and politicians from around the world.

"Sinn Fein stands firmly against the human rights abuses that are inflicted routinely on the Palestinian people by the Israeli state and stands firmly against racism in any and every form.

"Anti-Semitism is wrong, is unacceptable and should be confronted wherever and whenever it occurs. Dialogue and an inclusive peace process is the only route to an agreed and lasting peace in the region."

At the time Mr Corbyn, then a backbench MP, described the event as a "conference searching for peace".

He added: "The only way we achieve peace is by bringing people together and talking to them."

But many of the speakers, including senior figures from Hamas, talked of waging armed conflict with Israel. One of the most high profile was Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, who used the stage to call for "armed resistance" to Israel.

In the past Hamdan had threatened to send missiles deep into Israel and said: "Killing children is engraved in the historical Zionist and Jewish mentality."

Just before the conference, Hamdan had given an interview to Lebanese media saying that the anti-Semitic myth that Jews drank Christian blood was "not a figment of imagination or something taken from a film. It is a fact".

Two others speaking at the conference were Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar, who has declared that killing Jewish children is "legitimate", and Mousa Marzook, the Hamas second-in-command designated a terrorist by the US and found guilty of financing terror by a US court.

Conservative peer Lord Sheikh also went to the event four years ago in Tunisia. Conservative MPs Robert Halfon and Zac Goldsmith have complained to party HQ, claiming that attending was in breach of the party's code of conduct.

A previous version of this article said that Grahame Morris MP had attended the 2014 conference in Tunisia. In fact, Mr Morris was not at the conference. We apologise for the error.

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