UK equalities watchdog drops Conservative Party Islamophobia probe

UK equalities watchdog drops Conservative Party Islamophobia probe
Britain's equalities watchdog has come under fire after dropping a long-awaited probe into Islamophobia in the country's ruling party.
2 min read
13 May, 2020
The Conservative Party says it will conduct its own investigation [Getty]

Britain's equalities watchdog has scrapped plans for a probe into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party after the ruling party laid out details of its own investigation.

The move has been slammed by Britain's largest Muslim body as "a facade".

“We have previously described the Conservative party’s attitude to Islamophobia as one of denial, dismissal and deceit," said Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain.

"The publication of the terms of reference for its inquiry reflects that regrettable attitude. They are a facade to hide the hundreds of incidences of Islamophobic bigotry we have identified in its ranks.”

The MCB had previously submitted a dossier of 300 cases of alleged Tory Islamophobia to the EHRC.

However the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has said it does not think it appropriate to carry out its own investigation after the Conservative Party pledged to carry out a probe into discrimination allegations relating to “religion or belief and significantly Islam”.

An EHRC spokesperson cited by The Guardian said the body would monitor the Conservative Party's investigation and request updates. 

The MCB, however, has expressed concern that the inquiry will be limited, looking only at the process of handling complaints. 

Catalogue of allegations

Among the 300 allegations submitted by the MCB are examples involving high profile party members, including failed London mayoral candidate. Goldsmith, who now serves as a peer the House of Lords, was widely accused of linking Labour's Muslim candidate, Sadiq Khan, to extremism.

The MCB dossier also detailed how the MP for Hastings and Rye, Sally Ann Hart, was investigated sharing a social media post claiming that the Women’s March had been hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood for a “Muslim agenda”. In another case, MP for South Cambridgeshire, Anthony Browne, was  was noted as having questioned the loyalty British Muslims, describing them as  “a large minority with such divided loyalties”.

The MCB says it will continue pushing for an independent inquiry.

“While it is clear that Islamophobia is not treated equally to other forms of racism in the public domain including by many public bodies, we still hold out hope that many will see through this facade, and we can – sooner rather than later – have a true independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party," Khan said.

The EHRC, meanwhile, is conducting a investigation into the Labour party for its handling of antisemitsm complaints and will publish its findings next year.

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