Former Director of human rights group Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti to head inquiry into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (Photo: Creative Commons)
Ahmed J Versi
Former Director of human rights group Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, launched an independent inquiry into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party on May 16. Chakrabarti, who was asked by the Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, to lead the inquiry, said the inquiry would also include all forms of racism including Islamophobia.
Chakrabarti told reporters she would “consult widely with Labour Party members on anti-Jewish and other forms of anti racism, including Islamophobia.”
She denied that it would be diluting her inquiry into anti-Semitism if she also collected evidence on other forms of racism including Islamophobia.
“I have been clear that the reason why the inquiry came into being was because of concerns about anti-Semitism. However, anti-Semitism is a form of racism and we don’t believe in hierarchies of racism. Racism is racism. We have to address specific concerns of anti-Semitism.
Labour Party has taken this great step of looking itself in the mirror. It would seem a wasted opportunity not to allow people to also give their thoughts about their experiences of other forms of racism,” she told The Muslim News.
“I have got the opportunity to make recommendations and guidance in ways of conduct and language. It would be a shame not to be able to [do the same] in relation to racism and Islamophobia.”
Chakrabarti made it clear that the terms of reference to include other forms of racism including Islamophobia was there “right from the beginning”, that it was agreed with Corbyn and it was not later addition.
“This inquiry and its findings will be my own”, she said even though she would be advised by two deputy chairs, Director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism, Prof David Feldman, and former Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, Baroness Royall.
Asked if the Conservative Party should conduct a similar inquiry into Islamophobia, Chakrabarti, said it was upto other parties to set up their own inquiries. would her joining the Labour Party on the day she took the job of leading the inquiry on April 29, affect her independence? She denied that this would be the case. “I was appointed by the Leader of the Labour Party and will be working for the best interest of the Labour Party. I am conducting this inquiry with the best interest and values of Labour Party.”
Chakrabarti will be collecting evidence from all communities, including from “members of the minority communities who are particularly affected.”
Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi welcomed the inquiry and told The Muslim News the Conservative Party should investigate Islamophobia in its party.
“I welcome the inquiry headed by Shami Chakrabarti into anti-Semitism and others forms of racism including Islamophobia .I think it’s important to note that no political party can claim to be free of racism or discrimination. Historically the Labour Party has always led the way on equality. And on those occasions where allegations of anti-Semitism or Islamophobic comments have been made, a vast majority of members of the Labour Party have stood up for what is right and made it clear that we do not tolerate any form of racism.
“For a party that has a proud history of standing against racism it is quite right that we should be leading the way into a review that hopes to recommend how we address the issues that have been raised. Equally the Conservative Party should also follow suit and set up an inquiry into its Islamophobic London Mayoral campaign which was shamelessly heightened by the Prime Minister himself.”
The inquiry was set up after the allegations of anti-Semitism against Livingstone and Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West.
The deadline for evidence submissions is Friday June 10.