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Why is the Prime Minister Silent on Fabricant’s Racism?

Why is the Prime Minister Silent on Fabricant’s Racism?

Categories: Latest News

Sunday May 23 2021

The controversial Conservative MP Michael Fabricant recently came under fire for describing pro-Palestinian demonstrators clashing with police as “primitives” in a tweet on 16 May, which was later deleted. Whilst much criticism of Fabricant emanated from social media, there has been silence from Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who was quick to rightfully condemn a separate incident of Antisemitism on the same day.

Fabricant shared a video of pro-Palestinian protestors protesting outside the Israeli embassy in London, which was conducted largely peacefully, with the accompanying tweet, “These primitives are trying to bring to London what they do in the Middle East”. Fabricant’s remark echoed racist and Islamophobic stereotypes of ‘Arabs’ being violent in the Middle East and, in this case, people protesting for Palestinian rights in a peaceful manner. The choice of language by Fabricant fuels already mainstreamed Islamophobia and racism in society which has detrimental impacts upon Muslims and minority communities. The prevalence of Islamophobia has resulted in Muslims constituting 50% of all hate crime victims despite making up no more than 5% of the overall population. Meanwhile, in making such a racist remark, Fabricant inevitably dismissed and overlooked the oppression and human rights violations being suffered by the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli government. The tweet prompted widespread back-clash online, with anti-racism group Hope Not Hate describing the tweet as “hateful racism that stirs up division”. However, there was no such condemnation or comment from Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who acted to swiftly denounce a separate incident of Antisemitism in London on the same day.    

Indeed, footage of an appalling incident of Antisemitism in London emerged on the same day. The disturbing 15-second footage on Twitter appears to be separate from the largely peaceful protests that were ongoing and shows Antisemitic abuse being shouted on loudspeaker from cars coming to a standstill at a traffic light. The despicable act was swiftly condemned by a number of Palestinian rights groups, including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign as well as many MPs, including the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer. However, it seems the same energy is not replicated from the Prime Minister and Conservative MPs when it comes to condemning Islamophobia or other forms of racism.

Concerningly, Islamophobia remains an issue in the Conservative Party, with the most recent polling conducted by Hope Not Hate affirming this. The survey showed that 57% of Conservative Party members had a negative view of Muslims – more than twice the number of those with negative attitudes towards Jewish people. Almost half of all party members (47%) still perceived Islam and Muslims as a threat to a so-called ‘British way of life’. There has been no political leadership to confront this, and successive Prime Ministers and Party Chairs have failed to adequately combat Islamophobia within Conservative Party ranks, which has only served to embolden such views.

Ultimately, MEND hopes that the energy invested in rightfully confronting and condemning Antisemitism is similarly replicated for other forms of racism, such as Islamophobia. Addressing Islamophobic tropes in the ranks of the Conservative Party – as evident in surveys and Michael Fabricant’s tweet – as well as in wider political discourse, is integral in ensuring a fairer society for Britain’s many communities.

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