MCB demands equality commission investigate Tory Islamophobia

The Muslim Council of Britain has renewed its call to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to investigate the Conservative Party over allegations of Islamophobia.

The MCB’s call comes with an updated dossier of incidents involving over 300 individuals, including councillors and party members, new MPs and even Number 10 special advisers.

Since becoming Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has made a number of strong statements against Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. He has claimed the Party has a “zero tolerance approach… we have one bounce and we deal with it approach to this.”

The Party has also separately confirmed anti-Islam comments “have no place in society.”

But the MCB says that unfortunately this does not appear to be the case, with scores of incidents showing a pattern of behaviour ignoring complaints of Islamophobia and allowing those found to have engaged in Islamophobia to retain their membership, and often, their elected positions.

The Muslim Council of Britain first reported the Conservative Party to the EHRC in May 2019. It provided evidence of Islamophobia and anti-Islam remarks from 150 Party members.

The EHRC, which is investigating the Labour Party over antisemitism, has thus far failed to respond to the MCB and has given no indication as to whether it intends to investigate.

Tory MP Andrew Browne has questioned the loyalty of Muslims to Britain

But with a number of candidates during the election found to have made Islamophobic remarks, and the Conservative Party reneging on its promise to hold an independent inquiry into Islamophobia, the MCB says the request has been resubmitted, expanding on the case originally submitted with fresh evidence some of which has never been covered publicly, including:

  • Dominic Cummings, Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister, had overall responsibility for The Spectator website when a controversial cartoon of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with a bomb in his turban was posted, with a caption feeding into the false, far-right, Islamophobic trope about a Muslim “takeover.”
  • Andrew Sabisky, former Adviser to the Prime Minister, questioned in a book review whether a growing Muslim population could be countered with violent resistance, using a discredited statistic.
  • Andrew James Tagg, former Calderdale Councillor, called for “unconditional surrender” by Muslims, labelling Muslims as “brutes who beat kill and main young women.”
  • Thor Halland, Chairman of Leyton and Wanstead Conservative Association, called for Muslims to be banned.
  • Sandy Lancaster, a party member, called for Muslims to be thrown from bridges.
  • Lisa Gilfillan Johnston, also a party member, called for Muslims to be forcibly sterilised.

The submission contains further details of 16 MPs, one MEP, nine Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, 103 councillors, former councillors and former mayors, 183 party members and five advisers to the Conservative Party or Government.

Of these nine Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, three have become MPs despite their behaviour and calls for them to resign ahead of the election:

  • Sally Ann Hart, MP for Hastings and Rye, shared a post by an anti-Islam activist which claimed the Women’s March against President Trump had been hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood to promote the “Muslim agenda.”
  • Anthony Browne, MP for South Cambridgeshire, questioned the loyalty of Muslims to Britain when responding to Muslim leaders’ concerns about the Iraq War.
  • Karl McCartney, MP for Lincoln, retweeted Islamophobic and anti-semitic posts by Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins.

Tory “Islamophobia crisis”

The MCB said: “The letter outlines a clear case made up of five key pillars against the Conservative Party: Islamophobia among MPs; an atmosphere of hostility against Muslim Party members; the scale of Islamophobia in the Party; the failure of the complaints process and the denial of Islamophobia.

“The complaints process is particularly problematic with its failure to uphold transparency. There are scores of cases where the Conservative Party has failed to reveal whether an individual has been suspended, had their membership revoked, or been readmitted into the Party, and similarly, the Party refuses to confirm how many cases of Islamophobia it is investigating at any time.

“Concerns about the way in which the Conservative Party has thus far failed to take meaningful action on its problem of Islamophobia, and calls for the Conservative Party to be investigated over this have been made by a number of prominent Muslims in the Conservative Party, including Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, former co-chair of the Party, Lord Sheikh, founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum, and Sajjad Karim, former Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, who spoke about a senior serving minister having made Islamophobic comments about him.”

The MCB’s Harun Khan

Harun Khan, Secretary General of the MCB added: “Having furnished the Equality and Human Rights Commission with evidence of over 100 incidents of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party ten months ago, we find it extraordinary that the Commission has failed to give any response, let alone inform us and British Muslims as to whether action will be taken.

“Two years ago, we estimated that there were cases of Islamophobia being identified in the Party on a weekly basis. Now, with over 300 documented incidents, it appears our estimation was too low.

“There is no doubt that the Conservative Party has an Islamophobia crisis: it is institutional, systemic and widespread. The Party’s response has been one of denial, dismissal and deceit. This results in clear discrimination against Muslims because of their religion. Islamophobia is never acceptable, yet this dossier cites hundreds of individuals – including many in significant positions of power and influence – who have made horribly offensive comments about Muslims that would not be tolerated for any other section in our society.

“The EHRC has a duty to uphold the Equality Act, and this responsibility includes investigating where there are allegations of discrimination. The absence of meaningful action by the Conservative Party despite the wealth of evidence makes it all the more important that the EHRC recognises the impact of this level of Islamophobia in our governing party, and takes swift action.”

Responding to the MCB’s document, the Conservative Party said it “consistently takes decisive action to deal with any incidents of hatred, abuse or intimidation.”

“We are holding an independent review which is looking at how we can improve our processes – to make sure that any instances are isolated, and that there are thorough processes in place to stamp them out as and when they occur,” the Tories said.

In December, the party announced Professor Swaran Singh would lead an independent review into the Conservative Party’s handling of all forms of discrimination and prejudice.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the EHRC said: “We are actively considering what, if any, action we may take in relation to the handling of Islamophobia and other discrimination within the Conservative party. We are also awaiting the final terms of reference of the party’s independent review which we will consider as part of our decision-making process.”

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