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Tories select candidate embroiled in a series of Islamophobia rows

26th Oct 2018

Harun Nasrullah

The Tories have selected Shaun Bailey, a man at the centre of a series Islamophobia rows as their candidate for the 2020 Mayoral election.

Bailey was forced to explain why he re-tweeted a tweet that referred to Labour’s Sadiq Khan as “mad mullah Khan of Londonistan” following an investigation by the The Independent.

Bailey shared a post last year with an image of Khan and a caption which also branded Labour as “anti-British”.

The Conservative Party defended Bailey. A spokesman for the party told The Muslim News that the “offensive words were not visible on the Tweet that Shaun Retweeted, nevertheless Shaun has apologised for not checking more closely what was shared.”

A spokesman for Bailey said: “As The Independent’s screenshot shows these grossly offensive words were in no way visible in the chain that was retweeted. Shaun was completely unaware of their existence, and as someone who has suffered racial abuse himself, there is no way on earth Shaun would ever knowingly have shared something so offensive.”

The Tories also shifted the blame on Khan’s team for “clearly running a negative campaign to attack Shaun.”

London Labour MP branded the picture sent to more than 10,000 of Bailey’s followers as “absolutely disgraceful” and accused the Tory politician of seeking to wage an Islamophobic campaign against Khan.

The row emerged on the eve of the party’s conference and amid wider concern over Islamophobia in the party, which flared up in the wake of former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson’s recent article suggesting Muslim women in burqas and niqabs look like “bank robbers” and “letterboxes”.

In this latest incident, screenshots from Twitter show that the original offensive content was posted by one user and then shared in another post by a supporter of Bailey, who then re-tweeted his supporter’s post.

Bailey did so in the summer of 2017 amid a row over the cancellation of a bus contract signed off by Khan’s Conservative predecessor, though the original post containing the content has now been deleted.

The offensive message in the initial tweet showed an image of Khan, a bus and the caption “mad mullah Khan of Londonistan has cancelled production of British built Routemaster bus and handed the contract to Germans”.

Then lower down it reads: “Yet another example of the anti-British Labour party putting the British worker last”.

This is not the first time Bailey has been accused of spreading Islamophobia. In 2005 he penned  ‘no man’s land’ pamphlet for the think-tank Centre for Policy Studies in which he wrote that accommodating Muslims and Hindus ‘robs Britain of its community’ and risks turning the country into a ‘crime-riddled cesspool’ as a result.

Bailey voiced concerns about the marking of Muslim and Hindu festivals, claimed children were being taught more about Diwali than Christmas, and argued Britain ‘removing the religion that British people generally take to’ had allowed immigrants to bring their countries cultural problems with them.

However, the Conservative Party insist Bailey was not blaming “Muslims or any other group for criminal problems as described. Shaun was specifically talking about community breakdown. What he actually said was ‘Without our community, we slip into a crime-riddled cesspool.’”

The new row has the hallmark of the 2016 Mayoral election, which saw Tory MP Zac Goldsmith wage what even some other Conservatives described as a “disgusting” campaign that portrayed Khan as closely linked to extremists.

Labour’s Ilford North MP Wes Streeting warned Bailey against repeating “Zac Goldsmith’s Islamophobic campaign for London Mayor”. He added: “The picture he shared on Twitter is absolutely disgraceful.”

Following the 2016 Mayoral campaign, Chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum, Mohammed Amin, joined other senior Tory figures in condemning the attacks on Khan by Goldsmith.

Bailey, a youth worker who became an adviser to David Cameron before being elected to the London Assembly is yet to go further than a joint statement issued by himself, Boff and the other hopeful Joy Morrissey, which said that they “support all efforts to keep our capital open and integrated between all our communities”. He has also campaigned for and received political backing from, Goldsmith.

Former Co-chair of the Conservative Party, Baroness Warsi, said that Islamophobia is “very widespread” in the party and complained that it has been “ignored” by leaders.

She later joined others including the Conservative Muslim Forum and the Muslim Council of Great Britain in calling for an inquiry into the problem.

An internal Conservative process looking at Johnson’s comparison of Muslim women in face coverings with “bank robbers” and “letterboxes” is underway after being automatically triggered after when the party received several complaints about his articles.

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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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