Labour councillor suspended in anti-Semitism investigation
A Labour councillor has been suspended from his local party group while allegations he wrote anti-Semitic posts on Facebook are investigated.
Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese suspended Majid Dar after images of his posts were shared on Twitter.
Sir Richard said he believed the posts were "anti-Semitic and, in at least one case, grossly so".
Mr Dar said he was "apologetic", but explained his words criticised Israel and Zionism, not Jews.
His suspension comes two months after the government's equalities watchdog launched an investgation into the Labour Party over allegations of anti-Semitism.
Sir Richard told councillors in an email that he had "received information alleging anti-Semitism relating to posts appearing on Majid's Facebook pages".
He wrote that he had met with the Ancoats and Beswick councillor, who had "maintained his innocence", but added that the content of some of the posts "is, in my view, anti-Semitic and, in at least one case, grossly so".
"On that basis, I have suspended Majid from the Labour group until further notice as a neutral act to allow a full investigation to take place."
The posts in question date from between 2012 and 2014 and have since been deleted.
Images of the posts were circulated on an anonymous Twitter account, which identifies itself as being "run by Jewish, ex-Labour Party volunteers", and show that other Facebook users have commented on them, targeting Jewish people.
Mr Dar said he had been criticising a government, not a people, and explained that had he been "Facebook-savvy" at the time, he "would have deleted it".
In more recent posts, which have not been deleted, Mr Dar has repeated his criticisms of Israel, while also sharing videos of Jewish anti-war speakers and photographs of his visit to a Bosnian Jewish museum.
Mr Dar said that if his posts were found to be anti-Semitic, "then I will surely apologise and I am apologetic".
Manchester City Council declined to comment. The Labour Party have been approached for comment.