Tory Vice-Chair lambasted for branding calls for an Islamophobia inquiry “politically motivated”

30th Nov 2018
Tory Vice-Chair lambasted for branding calls for an Islamophobia inquiry “politically motivated”

Vice Chair of the Conservative Party Kemi Badenoch has dismissed calls for an inquiry into Islamophobia within the Tories as politically motivated

(Photo: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/CC)

Nadine Osman

The Vice-Chair of the Conservative Party has suggested demands for an inquiry into allegations of Islamophobia within the party have a “political motive”, prompting a backlash from fellow Tories and Muslim leaders.

Kemi Badenoch, who supports calls for an inquiry into allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, rejected the Muslim Council of Britain’s (MCB) call for an independent probe into Islamophobia within her party.

MCB said it had seen weekly incidents of Islamophobia from Conservative representatives and candidates as it urged Tory officials to take action.

However, asked whether such issues were a reason why the Conservatives have a relative lack of support among ethnic minorities, the Saffron Walden MP dismissed the MCB’s claims.

In an interview with Sky News on November 4, Badenoch insisted the Party takes “every single allegation of Islamophobia seriously and where we do find party members or people who hold positions in local government doing things we suspend them, we investigate thoroughly.”

Badenoch, whose party role means she has responsibility for the selection of Tory candidates for the 2022 general election, added: “I don’t think the Muslim Council of Britain is an organisation that would look very favourably on the Conservative Party anyway. So, I think there’s probably a political motive there. When I have looked at the cases we’ve talked about, I have seen strong investigations that have been done fairly. There are many people in the party who are Muslim who don’t recognise the allegations about Islamophobia.”

Harun Khan, MCB Secretary General, also accused Badenoch of “shooting the messenger instead of dealing with the increasing reality of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party”.

He continues, “We are now accustomed to seeing Conservative MPs and representatives refuse to deal with the issue and instead choose to shoot the messenger. This kind of treatment is not meted out to other faith communities.”

Badenoch’s comments also brought cross-party a rebuke, including from ex-Conservative chair Sayeeda Warsi, who has repeatedly accused her party of failing to act on a “simmering anti-Muslim underbelly of Islamophobia”.

Assistant Secretary General of the MCB, Miqdaad Versi, said, “Will Ms Badenoch also attack The Times, Observer, Lord Sheikh, Baroness Warsi and the Conservative Muslim Forum for being politically motivated? ”

Baroness Warsi, who was the first female Muslim to attend Cabinet, posted on Twitter:

“There was a time we denied racism existed within our party, there was a time we denied homophobia was deep-rooted – we now deny Islamophobia A lot of Conservatives get [it] right but sadly we always find ourselves on the wrong side of history when it comes to the right of minorities.”

Badenoch’s comments echo those of Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, who has also rejected the MCB’s call for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia.

He claimed in June the MCB “does not represent Muslims in this country” and highlighted how the Government refuses to engage with the group due to their members’ “favourable comments on extremists”.

The MCB responded to Javid at the time by accusing him of a “smear” attempt and of trying to “shoot the messenger” rather than address their “serious concerns”.

The Conservative Party failed to answer The Muslim News questions on whether or not accusations of Islamophobia within the party and calls for an inquiry are politically motivated.

“Our Party takes all allegations of discrimination extremely seriously and has a clear process to investigate complaints made to it under the Party’s Code of Conduct,” said a spokesman.

“When cases have been reported centrally the Conservative Party has consistently acted decisively, suspending or expelling those involved and launching an immediate investigation. In addition, the swift action we take on not just anti-Muslim discrimination, but discrimination of any kind is a testament to the seriousness with which we take such issues,” said the spokesman.

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