From “Letterboxes” to “Ragheads”: New report highlighting over 120 Examples of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party
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Thursday November 28 2019
Back in June, during a TV debate, the now Chancellor Mr Sajid Javid made the headlines by asking the contenders for the Conservative Party leadership to commit to an independent investigation into Islamophobia in the party if elected. While there was no oral agreement from his opponents, each “appeared to nod and express agreement”, to which Mr Javid declared “It’s great that we all agree on that”.
However, since then, Baroness Warsi has accused her own party of letting Muslim communities down, arguing that the Conservative Party is “trying to dilute” the investigation as the commitment to launching an inquiry into Islamophobia has been abandoned. Indeed, senior members of the party who have since retracted their support for an inquiry into Islamophobia include Mr. Sajid Javid, Mr Boris Johnson, Mr Michael Gove, and Mr James Cleverly. Instead, a broadened inquiry to investigate “all types of prejudice” has been put forward by the party to which Mr Sajid Javid, who was at the centre of support for the inquiry during the leadership race, believes “makes sense”.
MEND has released a report detailing over 120 incidents of Islamophobia that have come to light in the last five years and which have emanated from over 60 Conservative Members of Parliament, councillors, and party candidates.
With Islamophobia as one of the greatest barriers to the political, social, and economic participation of Muslim communities, we feel that the Conservative Party’s continued unwillingness to tackle this prejudice must be raised to a higher authority.
MEND CEO, Dr Shazad Amin states that; “We have produced this report in an effort to highlight the pervasiveness of Islamophobia within the party. We are dismayed by increasing levels of populist rhetoric which has become normalised by outspoken politicians, and by political parties continuing to tolerate, support, or propagate inflammatory language whilst failing to tackle prejudice within their ranks.
We believe that sufficient time has now passed for the Conservative Party to take this problem seriously, and sadly it has not. As such, in the light of this report, we urge the Equality and Human Rights Commission to use its statutory powers to initiate an immediate independent inquiry into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.”
The pattern of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party is well documented. The Prime Minister himself, Mr Boris Johnson, has come under fierce criticism for his racist and Islamophobic language. These statements include:
- Following the 7/7 terror attack in 2005, Mr. Johnson wrote a piece in the Spectator in which he argued that “Islam is the problem”, and added that “fear of Islam – seems a natural reaction” and that Islam was “the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers.”
- He wrote a poem about the President of Turkey having sexual relations with a goat.
- He stated that Tony Blair “is shortly off to the Congo. No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird.”
- He claimed that the Queen loves touring the Commonwealth because of the “cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”
- He stated that “for 10 years we in the Tory Party have become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing.”
- He claimed that the reason there were more Malaysian women going to university was so that they could “find men to marry.”
- He argued that countries that had accepted Islam as a majority religion had been left “literally centuries behind”.
- He described veiled Muslim women as looking like “bank robbers” and “letter boxes”.
- He wrote in the Telegraph that; “We should forbid the imams from preaching sermons in anything but English” and described British Muslims as being part of a “multicultural apartheid”.
With such a multitude of derogatory, racist, and Islamophobic rhetoric thinly veiled by ‘satire’ emanating from the party leader, it cannot be surprising that such an ethos has permeated every level of the party.
Meanwhile, the campaign ahead of the general election has already been marred by accusations of racism and Islamophobia. As one example, Mr. Anthony Browne, candidate for South Cambridgeshire and former aide to Boris Johnson, has recently faced criticism for his accusations that Muslims have divided loyalties and blaming immigrants for HIV in the UK. He further advised that the Government curb levels of immigration from “the third world” to avoid “letting in too many germs”.
When Baroness Warsi’s criticisms of her party’s track record on dealing with Islamophobia were put to Mr. Matt Hancock in a recent interview on Radio 4’s Today program, he suggested that there were others in the party “who take a more balanced approach”. Sadly, this attempt at whitewashing the problem, and what some have described as a rather uncomfortable foray into ‘whitesplaining’, is indicative of the Conservative Party’s general attitude towards the issue. If they continue to claim a more authoritative understanding of the problem than those whom experience it directly, they will never be able to formulate an accurate understanding of the cause and impacts of the issue, nor will they be able to meaningfully address it.
In light of this report, we urge the Equality and Human Rights Commission to use its statutory powers to initiate an immediate independent inquiry into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.