Lib Dems suspend election candidate accused of making anti-semitic comments
The Lib Dems have suspended a general election candidate accused of repeatedly posting anti-semitic comments online.
Waheed Rafiq had been due to stand for the party in Labour-held Birmingham Hodge Hill.
But Buzzfeed revealed that in 2010 he posted on Facebook: "Shocking to see how the Jewish government call them self Jews when they are wiping out all the people of Gaza."
In 2014, he called for a boycott of WhatsApp because he claimed it was "Zionist backed".
Mr Rafiq wrote: "Please note Jeff Rothschild is the Vice President of Infrastructure software and thus also a share holder in Facebook.
"There are other non Zionist apps such as the Telegram Messaging App. It's available on both android and apple users created by two brothers in Berlin.
"It's better encrypted, much safer and thus better than WhatsApp."
In 2012, he posted a cartoon of a hook-nosed Jewish person wearing a Star of David helmet and licking an ice lolly bearing the Palestinian flag.
A Liberal Democrat Spokesperson said: "Waheed Rafiq has been suspended from the Liberal Democrats."
His suspension was announced shortly before Jo Swinson launched the party's election manifesto on Wednesday afternoon.
Jewish Labour candidate Alex Sobel said: "This Lib Dem candidate has posted a disgusting image of a hook-nose Jewish caricature with a Star of David helmet, blamed Jews for Israel's actions in Palestine, and shared conspiracies about Whatsapp and Facebook being Zionist companies linked to an individual with the surname Rothschild.
"There is a litany of other offensive posts, from a meme about people burning in hell to supporting Assad.
"The Lib Dems' rhetoric on anti-semitism rings hollow when their instinctive reaction was to stand by this candidate and to avoid suspending him.
"They should withdraw all funding and support from his campaign and immediately halt printing of his campaign materials."
On Twitter, Mr Rafiq claimed the allegations against him were an "absolute lie" and suggested his Facebook had been hacked.
He said: "I am looking into this to prove my position on this and am working with the Lib Dem party. To sort this out. I HAVE BEEN HACK!"