UK suspends civil servants group over pro-Palestine activity

UK suspends civil servants group over pro-Palestine activity
The British government has suspended the Civil Service Muslim Network (CSMN) over political activism in support of Palestine.
2 min read
18 March, 2024
The UK government has sought to ban MPs and officials from engaging with pro-Palestine groups [Getty]

A British network that represents Muslim civil servants was suspended by the government on Friday over its support of Palestinians and its criticism of Israel, a report by the Times on Friday revealed.

The deputy prime minister, Oliver Dowden, ordered the immediate suspension of the Civil Service Muslim Network (CSMN) pending an investigation into allegations of "antisemitism" following reports that the group held meetings to discuss the British government's stance on the war on Gaza.

The CSMN, a cross-government umbrella network that represents and supports British Muslim civil servants, reportedly hosted a series of webinars in which an unnamed official told staff that the Israeli lobby had an "insidious influence" on British politics.

The same official allegedly said that the mainstream media was "biased" and "full of lies", according to the report.

Several webinars were reported to have been organised by the CSMN to address the UK's stance on Israel's war on Gaza, which began on 7 October and has so far killed at least 31,600 people, most of them women and children.

Despite acknowledging the devastating humanitarian crisis caused by Israel's brutal onslaught, the British government has failed to call for an immediate ceasefire.

The webinars reportedly coached civil servants on how to lobby and petition senior officials to shift towards taking a harder line against Israel.

During the meetings, civil servants shared that they would wear pro-Palestinian lanyards, badges and headscarves in government offices to show their support for the Palestinians.

Dowden told The Times he was "disgusted" by the "breach of trust given to this organisation and a betrayal of hard-working, diligent Muslim civil servants who wouldn’t dream of engaging in this sort of disturbing political activism".

"We will not hesitate to take any further action, including disciplinary measures, following that investigation," he added.

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It comes as the UK looks to ban MPs and officials from engaging with pro-Palestine groups who have taken part in Gaza solidarity protests.

The proposal, drafted by the Conservative government's adviser on political violence, John Woodcock, would prohibit MPs from engaging with groups that use "disruptive tactics" and "hate" on marches.

According to a Times report earlier this month, the groups cited include the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and environmental campaigners Just Stop Oil.