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October 09, 2002

Livingstone: ‘Sharon is a war criminal’

While protesting a possible Amrican/British war against Iraq, the Mayor of London manages to spend a good deal of his time blasting quickly some people lose focus.

Mayor Ken Livingstone has infuriated political friends and foes by accusing Ariel Sharon of being a war criminal and a mass murderer in a TV interview during Saturday’s London march against a war on Iraq.

Speaking on Sky News, he said: “Only one country in the Middle East has nuclear weapons — Israel — and we are making no attempt to remove these. Once again it is double standards with the US taking a broadly anti-Muslim, anti-Arab position.”

Asked whether weapons inspectors should go back into Iraq, Mr Livingstone said: “The reality is that he [Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein] is not the immediate nuclear threat. There is no danger about nuclear weapons [from Iraq]. The only nuclear weapons in the Middle East are in the hands of Sharon, a very unstable leader with a record of war crimes and mass murder.”

The mayor’s remarks followed his recent move to ban a Trafalgar Square demonstration by the radical Muslim group Al-Muhajiroun, which has repeatedly described Mr Sharon as a war criminal.

He was taken to task by the deputy mayor, Nicky Gavron, who is bidding to be his Labour challenger at the next election. She told the JC: “It would have been better if Ken had said some constructive things about the Middle East.”

Ilford Labour MP Mike Gapes accused Mr Livingstone of remarks “not helpful to community relations in our city. It is wrong for the mayor of London to take such an unbalanced view of a conflict issue,” he said

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