Islamophobia on rise in British incumbent Govt
LONDON: Anti-Muslim feeling within Britain’s governing Conservative Party continues to be a problem at both an individual and local association level, an independent investigation concluded on Tuesday.
The center-right party has been dogged for years by accusations of Islamophobia that have been levelled against figures including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“Anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem within the party. This is damaging to the party, and alienates a significant section of society,” the investigation led by Swaran Singh, a former commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, found.
The independent probe said since 2015 the “bulk” of discrimination complaints had been made over anti-Muslim allegations.
Of 1,418 complaints relating to 727 incidents of alleged discrimination, more than two-thirds of the incidents — 496 cases — related to Islam.While the report found “there were examples of anti-Muslim discrimination by individuals and groups at local association level,” it said those problems fell short of claims of “institutional racism.”
The report also found there was no evidence that complaints related to Islam are treated differently from those related to other forms of discrimination.
Incidents including a column written by Johnson before he became prime minister about Muslim women had suggested to respondents “a party and leadership that is insensitive to Muslim communities.”
In the 2018 article written in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Johnson described Muslim women who wear the burqa as looking like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers.” He was cleared of breaking the party’s code of conduct by a separate independent panel.
Johnson told Singh’s probe he was “sorry for any offense taken” and added he would not use “some of the offending language from my past writings” now that he was prime minister.
The report also considered accusations made by the campaign of 2016 Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith claiming his Muslim Labour rival Sadiq Khan associated with extremists.
Goldsmith told the investigation the accusations showed “poor judgment in the way his campaign was conducted” and he denied “harboring anti-Muslim sentiments or using such sentiments for political advantage.”
Singh said he believed the report was “going to be very uncomfortable for the party,” adding he hoped it would “spur them into action.”-
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