University anti-semitism row

Monday 25th February 2019 18:53 EST

A university at the centre of an anti-Semitism row has suspended a member of staff and launched an investigation. Concerns had been raised at the University of Essex over Facebook posts which had described "Zionists" wanting to create a society there.

A proposed Jewish Society - previously opposed by 200 students - was formally founded on Friday, after the Students' Union cancelled a vote. The vice-chancellor said anti-Semitism "has no place at our university".

The University of Essex had vowed to set up the society, regardless of the vote results, after it faced accusations of anti-Semitism when hundreds of students opposed its formation.

Further concerns were raised over posts from the Facebook account of computer science lecturer Dr Maaruf Ali, which allegedly included the claim "the Zionists next want to create a society here at our university". Other posts - since deleted appeared to deny the Holocaust.

Dr Ali has been suspended by St John Ambulance, where he was a volunteer.

The charity said: "'The views expressed in these posts on a personal social media account are that of the individual and not of St John Ambulance. The individual has been suspended and the allegations will be investigated internally in accordance with our policies and procedures."

The Students' Union cancelled a proposed re-run of the vote on Friday.

"We publicly recognise the value of a Jewish Society and are proud to announce that the University of Essex Jewish Society is now established with immediate effect," said a spokesman.

It will also review the process of forming new societies "to ensure that all students have a safe and welcoming environment."

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