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Conservatives' 'weekly Islamophobia' slammed by Muslim Council of Britain

MCB currently represents over 500 mosques, schools and associations in the country [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 May, 2018

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The Muslim Council of Britain is calling on the Conservative Party to launch an inquiry after Islamophobic comments from some members.
The UK's Conservative Party must launch an urgent inquiry into Islamophobia, a leading Muslim organisation has said, following a number of Islamophobic incidents and comments from within the ranks of Britain's ruling party.

The Muslim Council of Britain, which represents more than 500 mosques, schools and associations in the country, penned a letter to the party's chairman, Brandon Lewis, requesting a "full audit to ensure racists and bigots have no place in the party".

The letter refers not only to Bob Blackman MP, "who has now shown a consistent record of endorsing Islamophobia", but to also several other Tory lawmakers who are accused of making anti-Muslim remarks.

Blackman, MP for Harrow East, posted an anti-Muslim article on Facebook, linking to a story headlined "Muslim Somali sex gang say raping white British children part of their culture".

The article appeared on the website Hardcore News USA, which is noted for its Islamophobic rhetoric.

Blackman claimed to have shared a tweet by far-right extremist Tommy Robinson "by accident".

He has also invited controversial Tapan Ghosh to parliament - Ghosh is a Hindu nationalist who once praised the mass murder of Myanmar's Rohingya, described by the UN as "bearing the hallmarks of genocide".

"Upon becoming Chair of the Conservative Party, you admirably launched the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament and local election candidates, which includes the requirement to 'encourage and foster respect and tolerance', and you have since called on people to email you if they hear of bigotry within the party," Harun Khan, the MCB's secretary-general, said in the letter. 

"Yet no action has been taken against Bob Blackman MP who has now shown a consistent record of endorsing Islamophobia."

The letter added that Blackman was not the only one who "fosters Islamophobia" in the party, stating that just last month, there were more than weekly occurrences of Islamophobia from candidates and representatives of the Conservative Party.

Over the past two months alone, there have been nine incidents of Islamophobia among Tory candidates and representatives of the party, MCB said. 

The letter noted that, in April, Tory councillor Mike Payne had shared an article which called Muslims "parasites" who "live off the state and breed like rabbits".

Alexander van Terheyden, a former Tory candidate for London's multicultural Hoxton district, called Islam a "violent political ideology" comparable to "fascism" and "communism".

Nick Sundin, another Conservative candidate, tweeted "Prophet Mohammed was a 'f****** paedophile'".

Phillipa Auton (a prospective Tory councillor) and Peter Lucey (Wokingham mayor) were among some who "liked" or "retweeted" content by jailed far-right extremist and former leader of the English Defence League hate group, Tommy Robinson.

The letter also stated that, at the start of May, Karen Sunderland (a Lewisham council candidate) had called Islam "the new Nazism".

David Boston, candidate for Enfield, posted a picture of bacon hanging on a door handle as a way to "protect your house from terrorism".

The MCB said that while these cases were thankfully dealt with once they were brought to light, they "suggest a wider problem" of Islamophobia within the party's rank-and-file.

"The inaction taken in high-profile cases sends a signal that Islamophobia is to be tolerated in the Conservative Party," Khan wrote. 

"Our democracy should not be overshadowed by a divisive culture within political parties that scapegoats minorities and alienates some who share similar political positions. Instead, fellow Britons should feel enthused to vote for and indeed aspire for office in whichever party that they feel makes the best political argument," Khan added. 

MCB has urged Lewis to consider four steps to tackle the problem.

These include a "genuine independent inquiry" into the incidents, publishing an open list of incidents of Islamophobia within the party where action has been taken, as well as adopting a programme of education and training on Islamophobia.

The Muslim Council of Britain's letter comes after another vile letter emerged encouraging violence against Muslims.

A photo of the letter was posted on Twitter by Nazir Afzal, an adviser to the Welsh government, listing a number of violent crimes apparently being promoted by anti-Muslim hate groups in the UK.

Islamophobes are being encouraged to desecrate Qurans, spit in Muslims' faces and even to commit murder. The letter is being investigated by police, according to the former British public prosecutor. 

The first letter made the rounds in March, also promoting the assault and murder of Muslims, with "points" attributed to each crime.

Last week, leading Muslim student groups slammed the "hostile environment" created for students in Europe.

It followed attacks by French ministers on Maryam Pougetoux, a student union leader at Paris' Sorbonne University, after she appeared in a documentary wearing a Muslim headscarf.

The statement, signed by student leaders from National Union of Students (NUS), Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO), Etudiants Musulmans de France (EMF) and the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), described the incident as "indicative of the experiences of hundreds of Muslim student leaders across Europe".

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