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'Zio' is an anti-Semitic insult, Camden councillors say

PUBLISHED: 10:33 24 November 2016

Cllr Gio Spinella put forward the motion

Cllr Gio Spinella put forward the motion

Polly Hancock

Camden Council is set to consider a motion to class the term "Zio" - short for "Zionist" - as an anti-Semitic epithet.

The move comes after hate-speakers have been “emboldened” over the last 15 months, the council motion explains.

It also expresses “alarm” about the disruption of an October 27 event at UCL hosted by the university’s Friends of Israel society, which is now under police investigation.

“This council acknowledges the unique and pernicious nature of anti-Semitism for cultural and historical reasons amongst various and sadly all too plentiful cases of racism and discrimination,” the statement reads.

“The term ‘Zio’ [is] no different from other racist epithets used against the Jewish community.”

Cllr Gio Spinella gave notice of the motion, while Cllr Phil Rosenberg proposed an amendment calling on UCL and other universities to “establish clear protocols” that “safeguard both free speech and the right to peacefully protest but with a robust response to those who cross the line”.

The move has been hailed by Community Security Trust (CST), a charity devoted to protecting British Jews from attack.

“In recent years the word ‘Zio’ has become a shorthand term of abuse,” Mark Gardner, director of communications at CST, said.

“This was acknowledged by the recent Labour Party investigation into anti-Semitism and we welcome this proactive suggestion by Camden Council on the matter.”

Following the incident at UCL, the university announced an internal investigation alongside the Metropolitan Police probe.

In a statement, UCL said: “We have received allegations of violence and intimidation which, if confirmed, we condemn in the strongest possible terms.”

It added: “We re- iterate our position that we are a university that supports both the right to free speech and of protest.”

The result of the motion will be announced at the next council meeting on Monday, January 30.

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