Islamophobia a 'problem' in UK's ruling party: probe

Elias Hubbard
May 25, 2021

"Although the investigation didn't find any evidence of institutional or systemic anti-Muslim prejudice, it did find distressing examples of anti-Muslim sentiment at local Association and individual levels, as well as serious shortcomings in the Party's complaints process", Javid said. "Procedure is important, but it needs to be underpinned by dealing with the deep seated issues of institutional racism", the MCB's general secretary, Zara Mohammed, said.

Mr Johnson was cleared by a majority on an independent panel over a complaint he broke the party's code of conduct following a Daily Telegraph column in 2018 that described Muslim women who wear the burqa as looking like "letterboxes" and "bank robbers".

The prime minister ordered a report in 2019 into how the party handles discrimination allegations.

"We will assess the report alongside the investigation's terms of reference and await the Conservative Party's response on the actions they will take".

He told the commission that he wouldn't use "some of the offending language from my past writings" now that he is prime minister.

The inquiry also examined the unsuccessful mayoral campaign run in London by Lord Zac Goldsmith against Sadiq Khan in 2016, which he he acknowledged was "ugly and heavily racially charged".

However, the Singh Investigation report said several interviewees who spoke to the inquiry considered Mr Johnson's language "discriminatory and unacceptable".

The report said Lord Goldsmith "accepts poor judgement in the way his campaign was conducted but forcefully denies harbouring anti-Muslim sentiments or using such sentiments for political advantage".

The report said the existing issues are "damaging to the party, and alienates a significant section of society".

The report said high-profile cases like Mr Johnson's and Lord Goldsmith's "give the impression to many that the Party and its leadership are insensitive to Muslim communities". "I am obviously sorry for any offence taken", the report quoted Johnson as saying.

In 231 cases the person complained about was either suspended or expelled. But it didn't conclude that the party was institutionally racist or failed to take complaints seriously.

However, he said he found no evidence of a party that "systematically discriminated against a particular group".

Professor Swaran Singh's report carried out an "in-depth scrutiny" of a dossier of 30 cases provided by Lady Warsi.

Tory former cabinet minister Baroness Warsi - who has long campaigned on the issue of alleged Islamophobia in the Conservative Party and previously questioned Prof Singh's suitability to oversee the review - said the "crucial" detail of the report "tells a story that headlines do not".

In a 44,000-word report on his findings, he said: "Judging by the extent of complaints and findings of misconduct by the party itself that relate to anti-Muslim words and conduct, anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem within the party".

Responding to the report, a Conservative spokesman said: "The party is considering the recommendations set out by the report".

During the 2019 race to lead the Conservative party, then-home secretary Sajid Javid challenged all of his fellow contenders - including eventual victor Mr Johnson - to hold an external investigation into the allegations.

In his report, Prof Singh said Mr Johnson had told the inquiry that he had studied the Koran and did not believe that Islam or Muslims in Britain posed a threat to the nation.

"While party leaders advocate a" zero-tolerance approach "to all forms of discrimination, our findings show that discriminatory behavior is occurring, especially with respect to people of Islamic faith".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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