9 times the UK's Conservative Party were shockingly Islamophobic and got away with it

9 times the UK's Conservative Party were shockingly Islamophobic and got away with it
The Conservative party has been haunted by accusations that it has a systemic problem within its ranks. The New Arab has collected some of the worst examples.
5 min read
10 December, 2019
Johnson has been slammed for numerous offensive remarks made against Muslims[Getty]
Conservative chairman James Cleverly is the latest to apologise for cases of Islamophobia in his party, calling prejudice of any kind "inappropriate."

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics, Mr Cleverly said an investigation will be launched into prejudice against Muslims within the Conservative party by the end of the year.

"We said it will be initiated this calendar year," he said. 

"We have been doing, in parallel to the general election campaign, preparatory work ahead of that and we'll be making a more formal announcement as soon as the election is done.

He added: “It will specifically look into Islamophobia in my party. It will, by definition, also have to look at other stuff as well, because you can't always unpick this.

"But we are and absolutely have always been clear on this. We recognise that in mass membership organisations that there will always be people that say and do things which are completely inappropriate," he added.

The Conservative party has been haunted by accusations that it has a systemic problem within its ranks, with the Muslim Council of Britain most recently slamming the party for its  “blind spot for this type of racism.”

Read more: Leading UK Muslim body accuses BBC of ‘failing to sufficiently report’ Conservative Party Islamophobia

Over the years there have been flagrantly Islamophobic remarks, tweets and actions undertaken by Conservatives in the UK.

The New Arab has collected some of the worst examples below:

Boris Johnson

Boris has a few Islamophobic comments under his belt [Getty]

1. Boris Johnson’s burqa comments in the Daily Telegraph, 2018.

In a column for the Daily Telegraph in August 2018, Johnson compared women wearing burqas to "letter boxes".

In the £275,000-a-year column, Johnson wrote it was "absolutely ridiculous" that "people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes".

He added: “If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled… to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly.”

Earlier this week he spoke to Sky News and apologised for "any offence" his column caused. 

2. Islam and slavery tweet 

A Conservative councillor responded to a tweet in March, writing: "Islam and slavery are partners in crime."

3. Tory candidate repeatedly retweeting Islamophobes 

Lincoln candidate Karl McCartney has repeatedly retweeted "far-right propaganda" from Islamophobes Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins, according to a dossier of Islamophobia released to LBC and the Guardian.   

Anjana Patel

4. Anjana Patel's offensive tweet to Malala Yousafzai

Earlier this year Anjana Patel, who was the Conservative candidate in Brent North, tweeted 22-year-old Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, demanding to know “how are you going to help?” after two Hindu girls were allegedly kidnapped.

She went on to tweet that the girls were “molested and forcibly converted” to “your religion, Islam.”

Patel later deleted her account.

5. Tory election candidate Antony Calvery's "Londonistan" tweet 

Conservative election candidate Antony Calvery, who had been running for MP in Wakefield, stepped down after he referred to London as “Londonistan” and joked about seeing someone on the tube who he said looked like former Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

He added that if Gaddafi wanted to walk the streets without being recognised, “he should surely have fled to Bradford.”

However, it isn’t just recent comments made by Conservatives that have been criticised for being Islamophobic.

6. In 2006 Boris Johnson argued that Islam caused the Muslim world to be “literally centuries behind.”

In the essay discovered by the Guardian, Johnson wrote about the rise of religion in The Dream of Rome, his book about the Roman Empire.

In an appendix added to a later edition, he argued that Islam halted development in parts of the world, calling it the “Muslim grievance.”

7. Johnson's offensive poem about Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan in The Spectator, May 2016.

"There was a young fellow from Ankara
"Who was a terrific wankerer.
"Till he sowed his wild oats
"With the help of a goat
"But he didn’t even stop to thankera."

8. Boris Johnson’s ill-named 2004 comic, “Seventy-Two Virgins: A Comedy of Errors."

Though a satire, Johnson’s comic has been heavily criticised for its racist and sexist depictions.

The comic was published in 2004 when Johnson was MP for Henley, and follows a bicycle-riding Tory MP who recounts a fictional terrorist attack by “Islamofascists” in London.

Not only does he use the highly offensive n-word to describe black people, but he also regurgitated anti-semitic tropes about Jewish oligarchs controlling the media, as well as referring to Arabs as “hook-nosed".

9. One unnamed councillor in England posted a series of Islamophic tweets, one of which boasted of a “Syrian Christian test.”

In November both LBC and the Guardian were given a dossier filled with Islamophobic comments written by Tory party members, which resulted in the suspension of several councillors.

The unnamed councillor retweeted a number of offensive tweets, including one with a picture of bacon that was captioned: 

“Syrian Christian test: if they eat it, let them in.”

After years of refusing to refuse for his comments, Conservative party leader Boris Johnson apologised for past instances of Islamophobia on Wednesday, insisting there is a “zero tolerance approach” in his party.

"Obviously whenever we have an incident of antisemitism or Islamophobia or whatever in the Conservative Party we take a zero-tolerance approach," he said, speaking on a campaign visit to Cornwall.

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