Senior government adviser sacked following outcry over Islamophobic remarks

26th Apr 2019
Senior government adviser sacked following outcry over Islamophobic remarks

Sir Roger Scruton has been dismissed as the government’s housing adviser for making repeated Islamophobic and anti-Semitic remarks (Photo: Elekes Andor/WikiCommons)

Hamed Chapman

A senior Government housing adviser, who also happens to be a long term friend of Hungary’s far-right President, Viktor Orbán, has been dismissed following an outcry after repeatedly making Islamophobic and anti-Semitic remarks.

Prime Minister, Theresa May’s spokeswoman confirmed that in a telephone call Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire, had sacked Sir Roger Scruton as Chair of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission team with immediate effect.

The spokeswoman described the comments by the 75-year old right-wing philosopher, who was knighted less than three years ago, as “deeply offensive and completely unacceptable” and said it was “right that he has been dismissed.”

Asked why in he had been given the unpaid role in the first place last year, given earlier similar comments, the spokeswoman said he had been appointed “because of his expertise in the built environment.”His comments though, she said, were “clearly distracting from the important work of the commission and so it is no longer right for him to act as a Government adviser.”

In an interview with the New Statesman magazine, Scruton claimed that Hungarians were extremely alarmed by what he described as “the sudden invasion of huge tribes of Muslims.” He also repeated his views on George Soros, the Hungarian-American philanthropist, who is frequently cited in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Since his appointment in November, the former advisor has faced calls to be sacked given his Islamophobic views. He said that Islamophobia was invented by the Muslim Brotherhood and does not exist.

His latest outburst provoked a further backlash on the social media and from some politicians, including Shadow Equalities Secretary, Dawn Butler, who termed his comments as “despicable” and “invoke the language of white supremacists.”

“His claim that Islamophobia does not exist, a few weeks after the devastating attack in Christchurch, is extremely dangerous, and his defence of the prejudice stoked by Viktor Orbán’s government in Hungary is appalling,” Butler warned.

Andrew Gwynne, the Shadow Communities Secretary, went further in calling for Brokenshire to “apologise for defending Mr Scruton as a ‘champion’ of free speech and for saying our criticism of him was ‘misinformed’ and ‘ill-judged.’”

“Mr Brokenshire also said ‘due diligence’ had been conducted on Mr Scruton’s appointment, so he must explain what this entailed, what processes he followed and how he reached his decision. The government should also strip him of his knighthood,” Gwynne said.

Britain’s ruling party itself has faced continual accusations of being institutionally Islamophobic but has refused to carry any independent investigations. Last year, the Tories were the only governing conservative party in Western Europe to controversially vote en masse in support of Orbán’s far-right Government.

In its criticism, the Muslim Council of Britain has previously warned: “As the Conservative Party faces its latest crisis on Islamophobia, it cannot continue with false promises to take the issue seriously whilst retaining people such as Mr Scruton as a government adviser.”
“The reality is that these concerns will continue to recur until trust is rebuilt through – in part – an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party,” a spokesman for the Council said.

Last month, 14 members of the Tory party were suspended after making abusive Islamophobic comments online but remains in denial about the extent of the phenomenon within its ranks.

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