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Tories told to act against MP linked to series of Islamophobic incidents

28th Aug 2020
Tories told to act against MP linked to series of Islamophobic incidents

Bob Blackman MP (Credit: Chris McAndrew /UK Parliament)

Nadine Osman

The Tories have been urged to enforce disciplinary measures on an MP embroiled in a series of Islamophobic incidents. A video emerged last month showing Harrow East MP Bob Blackman speaking at a seminar with far-right figures. Blackman insists he had no idea the other individuals were also speaking at the event held in Geneva last year.

The MP sent a message to the Association PAN Africa in September, his name was listed as a speaker alongside “notorious promoter of Islamophobia” and far-right pundit, Katie Hopkins, who was only recently banned from Twitter and David Vance, who is also accused of promoting Islamophobia.

Blackman was also included in the Muslim Council of Britain’s (MCB’s) dossier of evidence of Islamophobia in the Tories, submitted to the Equality and Human Rights Commission in May 2019 and again in March 2020, but has not faced any criticism or repercussions for his behaviour.

In the dossier, MCB argues that Blackman re-tweeted EDL founder Tommy Robinson in February 2016 and then re-tweeted accounts defending him even though they had a history of hurling abuse at Muslims.

The dossier also highlights the fact that Blackman has also been a member of several private far-right Facebook groups, namely ‘Britain for the British’, ‘For Britain Political Party’ and ‘Pendragons Fight Back’ in which racist and Islamophobic comments are rife and has shared a fake news story feeding into Islamophobic tropes.

In October 2017, Blackman hosted anti-Muslim extremist Tapan Ghosh in Parliament. The Indian Hindu-nationalist is infamous for calling on the UN to “control the Muslim birth rate world over”, praising the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and propagating Islamophobic fake stories, playing on tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India.

A spokesperson for the MCB said, “His name was alongside that of Katie Hopkins and David Vance in the public conference agenda. He had the opportunity to make a public statement at the time when he apparently found out but did not do so. Even now, when given yet another opportunity, he has not apologized for his actions. This is unacceptable. We await the Conservative Party’s response.”

In a statement to The Muslim News Blackman said he is “aware of the Muslim Council of Britain’s latest attempt to smear my name with erroneous allegations.”

Adding, “The focus of my message was Jammu and Kashmir and my speech was purely about my views on Jammu and Kashmir without agreeing or disagreeing with other speakers.”

He continues “I regularly place a lot of faith in organisations when agreeing to participate in such events and on this occasion I was not informed that the meeting was being held with certain other speakers.

Once I had discovered the details on social media I made clear my views on those speakers to the organisers of the event. Unfortunately I found out about the speakers after the video had been recorded and the meeting had taken place. I distance myself totally from David Vance and Katie Hopkins, I reject them and their breed of politics which has no place in our society.”

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

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