Majority of British Conservative party members are afraid of Islam: Poll

Majority of British Conservative party members are afraid of Islam: Poll
Some 52 percent of members surveyed felt threatened by religion, while 22 percent thought it was “generally compatible,” the survey showed.
4 min read
08 July, 2019
More than half of the participants surveyed said they felt threatened by Islam [Getty]
More than half of the UK’s conservative party members believe Islam is “generally a threat” to the British way of life, a new YouGov survey revealed.

Some 52 percent of members surveyed felt threatened by religion, while 22 percent thought it was “generally compatible,” the survey showed, amid accusations that the party has failed to address Islamophobia.

The survey also showed some 42 percent of participants believe multiculturalism in the UK has damaged British society, while 53 percent thought Donald Trump, who has notoriously rallied against migrants and multiculturalism himself, would make a good prime minister for the UK.

The poll, which 892 members of the Conservative party last month, was commissioned for a documentary series on Channel 4’s Dispatches, which is due to highlight a range of Islamophobic posts from Conservative party members on Facebook when it broadcasts this week.

 “I would ban all Muslim (sic) from entering the whole of Great Britain,” one such post on the Boris Johnson Supporters Group said.

“Two mega mosques agreed planning permission in Maidstone and Worcester, how we feel about this?” Another person posted: “WRONG,” another post on the Jacob Rees Mogg Appreciation Society said.

A spokesman for the Conservative party said: “Those people making these posts that we have found to be members of the party have been suspended pending investigation,” he said. “Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong and will not be tolerated.”

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Rees-Mogg disassociated from the online Jacob Rees Mogg Appreciation Society Facebook group, saying it was not an official group.

“I absolutely condemn such behaviour. Anyone who behaves in such a way is not one of my supporters and should be reported,” he said.

Read more: Comment: You can't take Islamophobia out of the Tory party

Last year, former foreign minister and Conservative MP Boris Johnson, who is in the running to become the next British prime minister quite famously compared women who wore the burqa to "letterboxes" and "bank robbers".

Despite outrage at Johnson's comments, the Tory politician refused to back down.

"It is ridiculous that these views are being attacked - we must not fall into the trap of shutting down the debate on difficult issues," a source close to Johnson told reporters.

"We have to call it out. If we fail to speak up for liberal values then we are simply yielding ground to reactionaries and extremists."

In his article, Johnson made a series of disparaging comments about the burqa and niqab.

"If you tell me that the burqa is oppressive, then I am with you," he said. 

"If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree - and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Quran."

He then claimed: "It is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes."

Any female student who turned up to school "looking like a bank robber" should be asked to remove their face covering, he then added.

Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi, a former party chairwoman, accused Johnson of adopting the "dog-whistle" tactics of right-wing Steve Bannon, US President Donald Trump's former top aide who has established ties with the British politician.

Warsi said Johnson was hoping to attract support from right-wing Conservatives for an eventual leadership bid, and called for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party.

"It is crass and it must stop, and it must be condemned by the leadership right from the prime minister down."

Backing Johnson, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries saying he "did not go far enough".

"Any clothing a woman is forced to wear which hides both her beauty and her bruises should be banned and have no place in our liberal, progressive country," she said.

The poll results came just a month after the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) revealed “hundreds of cases” showing Islamophobia among Tory ranks were documented by the organisation.

The British Muslim group urged an immediate independent investigation into accusations of Islamophobia within the party, noting it had submitted more than 20 pages of evidence to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

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