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Tory candidate suspended over anti-Muslim posts

27th May 2022

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Tory candidate was suspended from the party on April 30 over historical social media posts – including racist and Islamophobic comments supporting “the removal of all immigrants” and suggested TV chef Nadiya Hussein would not receive Islamophobic abuse if she “integrated more”.

In the run-up to the May 5 local election, Enfield Conservatives confirmed that Stephen Antony Savva, a candidate for Brimsdown ward, had been suspended “following reports of offensive tweets. We are currently investigating the matter and take reports such as this extremely seriously.”

The comments, which were posted on Twitter in 2017 and 2018, were uncovered by the national anti-racism campaign group HOPE Not Hate. Savva’s account has since been locked so that only approved followers can see his posts.
“How about the removal of all immigrants? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Just think of all the homes that would suddenly become available? All those school places? No more have to wait an ion [sic] to be seen by a doctor,” tweeted Savva on November 27, 2017.

A reply from Savva’s account to an article about TV chef Nadiya Hussain revealing that she suffers Islamophobic abuse on social media stated: “As a westerner, she shouldn’t wear a headdress. If she integrated more, she wouldn’t suffer any abuse.”

Another thread included statements that burkas are “not normal British clothing” and added: “Neither are those dresses Muslim men wear.”

A further post stated that Savva believed “those who are privileged enough to come and live here should live by OUR ways. And stop dressing funny.” A post from Savva’s account in 2018 also stated: “[Labour MP] Diane Abbot deserves to be bullied. She’s just vile! She puts herself in a position to be bullied. Sometimes she should just shut up.”

In the same year, a post about former Labour leader Ed Miliband eating a bacon sandwich stated: “Surely it’s against his religion? In which case, it exposes Miliband as the hypocrite that he is.”

Savva previously stood for the Conservatives in the Southbury ward in 2014. In June 2018, a now-defunct news website, The Red Roar, revealed a post made by Savva stating: “We should ban Islam from being practised [sic] in the UK. It’s an evil religion, and one which before to long [sic] will force all of us to practise it.”

The controversy comes weeks after another party member in Enfield, Colin Davis, resigned from his position as chair of the Enfield Southgate Conservative Association when a photo of him wearing a Nazi uniform in the 1980s was uncovered.

Roxana Khan-Williams, Campaigns Organiser at HOPE Not Hate, welcomed Savva’s suspension. However, the group told The Muslim News they question the party’s candidate vetting system.

“The fact that Savva was even allowed to be a candidate for the Conservatives, speaks to the need for tighter and more robust vetting processes, especially for a party that has long been imbued with allegations of Islamophobia. The idea that religious attire is ‘funny’ or that Muslim women wearing a headscarf are automatically oppressed, is patronising and situates Muslims as outside of British culture.”

“While HOPE Not Hate will continue to shed light on racism and misogyny within our main political parties, this does not get to the root of the problem: that Islamophobia, especially gendered Islamophobia, exists across the political spectrum and society. We need to start a conversation that frames Muslim women as people with agency, who can choose what they wear, not as passive victims.”

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