Tory leaders in sudden pledge to investigate Islamophobia

28th Jun 2019

Hamed Chapman

One of the unexpected consequences of Prime Minister, Theresa May, stepping down from power has been a sudden pledge by remaining Tory leadership candidates to carry out an independent investigation into Islamophobia in the ruling party whichever one wins the contest.

During a BBC TV debate last week, all five candidates committed themselves to commission an investigation on Islamophobia after being called out by Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, to do so. “Shall we have an external investigation in the Conservative Party on Islamophobia?

“It’s great that we all agree on that,” Javid said after a succession of nods and expressions of agreement from the other four taking part, former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson; the current Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt; Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, and International Development Secretary, Rory Stewart.

There was a “concern (about) growing anti-Muslim hatred in our country, certainly over the last few years, in all parts of society. And, wherever that is, including in political parties, it must be absolutely rooted out,” the Home Secretary spelt out.

He added: “We are, today, one of the most successful multiracial democracies in the world – whatever your race, whatever your religious background. And that is what we have got to remain.”

The issue was raised by Abdullah Patel, an imam and teacher from Bristol, who said he had seen first-hand effects of Islamophobia and asked the candidates whether they agreed that “words have consequences” but was disappointed about most of the replies from the candidates seeking to replace May.

BBC host, Emily Maitlis, referred the question first to Johnson, reminding him of the insulting comments he had made comparing Muslim women wearing the veil with letterboxes and bank robbers, as well as his handling of the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe case during his time in the Foreign Office.

Patel in a later tweet described the former London Mayor as “deluded” and criticised his lack of respect when seemingly forgetting his name, speaking in his waffling way about his great grandfather and about Iran instead of answering the question.

Gove was also criticised for using the opportunity to criticise Jeremy Corbyn rather than answering the question on Islamophobia in his party and Hunt for suggesting he could not be a racist because he has an immigrant wife. Stewart, Patel also said, forgets this was ‘our’ country and that he was not a foreigner. He was alluding to the comment by Stewart patronisingly telling him: “I am very proud to have you in this country.”

The only positive response, the Imam said, was from Javid “making all commit to an independent investigation” into Islamophobia and called up Tory Chairman, Brendon Lewis, who continually denied one, to “take note.”

Both Gove and Hunt had refused to acknowledge a day earlier that there was a need for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Tory Party.

Instead of answering the question, Hunt told The Muslim News at the Lobby [Parliamentary] Hustings on June 17 that “we need to do everything to step out racism of any kind, including Islamophobia.” Then he ranted on about freedom of discussions, free to criticise other religions etc.

Gove told The Muslim News in the same hustings that Chairman of the Conservative Party, Brandon Lewis “is doing a good job on Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.”

Additional report by Ahmed J Versi   

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