Muslim groups have been reacting to Boris Johnson becoming the new Prime Minister. The Muslim Council of Britain welcomed his ascension to power and refrained from any criticism, while others accused him of racism and Islamophobia.
The MCB said it welcomed Johnson as the new Prime Minister and that it hoped that his leadership would unite the country at a time of increasing division.
In a letter welcoming the new Prime Minister, Harun Khan, Secretary General of the MCB, said: “We wish you, our new Prime Minister, well as you attempt to navigate the country through the Brexit process.”
He added: “The new incumbent in Downing Street provides an opportunity to transform the government’s relationship and engagement with Muslim communities by recognising our sincerely-held concerns about the rise of the far-right and Islamophobia, by understanding the importance of defining the hatred we face and by taking urgent steps to tackle Islamophobia wherever it is found.”
Mr Khan concluded: “We pray that you will be able to abide by your promises during the campaign, and as with your time as Mayor of London, we are able to work together to help ensure the power of government can support those most vulnerable, can combat division and can foster strength between communities.”
MEND wished Johnson “every success in tackling prejudice and inequalities that have permeated our society,” but urged him to announce an immediate independent inquiry into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.
In a statement MEND said: “As Prime Minister, it is incumbent upon Mr Johnson to ensure the cohesion, safety, and prosperity of every citizen of this nation. This must begin with him publicly disavowing the regrettable racist and disparaging comments he has made on multiple occasions towards members of Britain’s ethnic and religious minorities, resulting in their victimisation, harassment, and ‘othering.’ This is particularly the case with Muslim communities in the UK.
“In the words of John Maxwell: ‘A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.’ We thus call on Mr Johnson to show true leadership by announcing an immediate independent inquiry into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.
“This must be the cornerstone of any attempt to tackle the hatred that is pervasive throughout the party and in society more broadly. Only by taking meaningful steps towards eliminating hate in his own party can religious and ethnic minority communities have confidence in Mr Johnson and his government’s willingness and ability to tackle hate crime in wider society.”
Meanwhile, MPACUK called on British Muslims to mobilise against the Tory Government at the next General Election.
It said: “Boris Johnson has described niqab-wearing Muslim women as ‘letterboxes,’ black people as ‘picaninies’ with ‘watermelon smiles,’ dismissed Obama’s views on the UK through his ‘half-Kenyan’ background, described Papua New Guinea as a country with ‘orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing’ and has close ties with White Supremacist, Steve Bannon.
MPACUK spokesperson, Imran Shah, added: “With a party that has 60% of its members believing in anti-Muslim tropes, Islamophobia is not just institutional in the Tory party, but clearly rampant and endemic. So, it is no surprise that Boris Johnson, a man that has demonstrated to being highly prejudicial and a compulsive liar, has been made leader of the party.
“This man is a sum liability to the welfare of the Muslims communities and all communities. Muslim can swing at least 30 Parliamentary seats, including Boris Johnson’s seat, Uxbridge and South Ruislip. We can have greater national power and influence to demand our equality and rights. We call on Muslims to organise now and to vote tactically at the next General Election to remove this man and his party from power.”
And advocacy group CAGE pledged to continue to hold Boris Johnson to account.
“The non-contest that saw Boris Johnson waltz into Number 10, despite his racism and open Islamophobia, demonstrates the hollow nature of the notion of British values, used by politicians such as Johnson to secure positions of leadership and influence,” CAGE said.
“Despite now having our own Trump-like leader, who may well enable unbridled hate towards minority communities, this also is also great opportunity to galvanise opposition to Johnson’s rhetoric. This should be based on the pursuit of justice and accountability, values to which the government has so far failed to commit itself.”
Cerie Bullievant, spokesperson for CAGE added: “Boris Johnson has espoused racism, enabled Islamophobia and allied with those whose campaigns are inspired by Nazi propaganda. These are values we do not share, and we know that people in the UK will put away their differences and unite to resist any attempts to take us back to the politics of the 1930s.”
“If Boris is truly serious about ending cycles of violence, he would do well to heed the example of his political inspiration, Trump, whose attempts to push for a negotiated withdrawal of the U.S. from Afghanistan are evidence that greater understanding and a will to change dogmatic policies is the only way forward in the current securitised climate.”