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BBC Question Time row erupts as thousands threaten to boycott PureGym

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Thousands of Brits are threatening to “boycott” PureGym, the UK’s most popular gym brand, after its CEO said Britain should “support” the Israeli government “in being able to defend themselves”.

Speaking on BBC Question Time last night, Humphrey Cobbold told the audience in Stoke-on-Trent: “I think we should support, in general, the Israeli government in being able to defend themselves.”

His remarks have been met with scorn from pro-Palestine supporters, who have been circulating “#BoycottPureGym” on X, formerly Twitter.

Almost ten thousand people have used the hashtag, including Dilly Hussain, the controversial deputy editor of the UK Islamic news website 5Pillars. His post on X has been viewed more than 112,000 times and the post by 5Pillars on the same platform is just shy of half a million views.

Speaking on Question Time last night, the boss of PureGym, which has more than one million UK members, said: “Ten times the number of people sitting in this room tonight now were murdered on the October 7 [attacks] in cold blood.

“Double the number of people sitting in this room were taken into Gaza as hostages and the number of people in this room as we sit here today are still held as hostages – and that’s the precursor to what’s happening there today.”

The 59-year-old Kenya-born Cambridge graduate went on to express his concern about the IDF’s operations in Gaza. He added: “And I’m deeply concerned about what is happening in Gaza, what we see on our screens every night, and the risks around Rafah.”

Despite conceding it would be “sensible” for the US to stop sending the IDF “big bombs”, Mr Cobbold was keen to press home that “Hamas is a proscribed terrorist organisation that has insisted on deciding to eradicate Jews and eradicate Israel.”

Following his appearance on the BBC debate show, thousands of X users vowed to cancel their memberships with PureGym.

5Pillars editor Roshan M Salih wrote: “Anyone with a Pure Gym membership, you know what to do. #BoycottPureGym“.

Another said: “A slight inconvenience having to find a new gym after two years but well worth it if it means not supporting a company like this @PureGym #BoycottPureGym“.

While a third sniped: “I’m cancelling my pure gym membership after seeing this. Don’t need to go to a gym owned by a Zionist ally! The reality is clear all over the news and from on the ground social media accounts. Anyone who speaks otherwise is just part of the genocidal cult”.

Despite the backlash, some X users sought to attack those up in arms over Mr Cobbold’s remarks. One user quipped: “I wonder how many folk tweeting #BoycottPureGym actually go to PureGym?”

Another joked: “99 percent of the people sing the #BoycottPureGym trend have never been to a gym their idea of exercise is getting up to get another pack of biscuits”.

Express.co.uk has approached PureGym for comment.

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