MEND asks Equality Commission to investigate Tory Islamophobia

Advocacy group MEND has written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission requesting that they investigate Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

MEND delivered a letter by hand after they released a report, called “From Letterboxes to Ragheads,” which details over 120 instances of Islamophobia emanating from Conservative MPs, councillors, and party candidates over the past five years.

The letter states: “Over recent months, numerous organisations and individuals, including ourselves, have consistently called for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. These calls have not been heeded, but rather have largely been ignored by the Conservative leadership. We have produced this report in an effort to highlight the pervasiveness of Islamophobia within the party, as demonstrated by Conservative candidates, councillors, mayors, and members of parliament…

“As a religious (and frequently ethnic) minority, Muslims are an underrepresented group within political processes. We firmly believe that the institutionally embedded nature of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party amounts to a breach of equalities duties that has detrimental impacts to the political participation of British Muslims across the country…

“However, the Conservative Party’s failure to address Islamophobia within its ranks – as attested to by the former Chair of the Conservative Party, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi – demonstrates the urgent need for an independent investigation into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party and the explicit inclusion of Islamophobia as a consideration within its members’ code of conduct.”

MEND’s report details:

  • Boris Johnson comparing Muslim women to “letter-boxes” and “bank robbers.”
  • Bob Blackman MP inviting a prominent anti-Muslim extremist, Tapan Ghosh, to Parliament. Ghosh is a far-right Indian Hindu-nationalist who has supported the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Burma, called upon the United Nations to control the birth rate of Muslims, and suggested that Muslims should be forced to renounce Islam if they migrate to Western countries.
  • Damian Green MP receiving a letter complaining about “The excessive Muslim birth-rate” and comparing Islam to Nazism. Instead of rejecting this Islamophobia, Green thanked the sender and assured him that “the Government takes the threat of extremism very seriously.”
  • The role of Michael Gove in the government’s response to the “Trojan Horse” affair, in which there was no “Islamist plot” regarding some schools in Birmingham.
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg retweeting the leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party. The AfD recently ran an “Islam-free” campaign reminiscent of Nazi rhetoric, including calling for “Islam-free schools.”

Shazad Amin, CEO of MEND, commented: “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 become normalised by outspoken politicians, and with 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, are asking the Equality and Human Rights Commission to use its statutory powers to initiate an immediate Independent Inquiry into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.”

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