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UK: Muslim body urges probe into Islamophobia in Tory party

UK's largest Muslim body urges Conservative Party probe into 'structural Islamophobia' claims
3 min read
26 February, 2024
The UK's largest Muslim body has called on the Conservative Party to launch an investigation into 'structural Islamophobia' within its ranks.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak denied on Monday that his governing party tolerates anti-Muslim prejudice [Getty]

The UK’s largest Muslim group has written to the governing Conservative Party on Sunday demanding an investigation into claims of "structural Islamophobia" within its ranks.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said in a letter addressed to Conservative chair, Richard Holden, following "a week of inflammatory statements and Islamophobia from senior figures in the party".

The secretary general of the MCB, Zara Mohammed, said that anti-Muslim sentiment was "on public display this week", citing comments made by several Tory figures, including the former home secretary Suella Braverman, the former Tory party deputy chair Lee Anderson, and former prime minister, Liz Truss.

"Our view is that the Islamophobia in the party is institutional, tolerated by the leadership and seen as acceptable by great swathes of the party membership," Mohammed said in the letter.

It cited an anti-Muslim rant on GB News by pugnacious populist Anderson, who claimed that Islamists had "got control" of London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the city of London.

Anderson had the Conservative whip withdrawn on Saturday after he refused to apologise for the comments.

Khan, a Muslim and a member of the opposition Labour Party, described the Ashfield MP's remarks as "pouring fuel on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred".

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The MCB letter criticised the Conservative Party for removing the whip from Anderson only after he refused to apologise for the inflammatory comments and not after he had made them.

The letter also cited Braverman's article last week in The Daily Telegraph, in which she wrote that "Islamists … are in charge", with Mohammed highlighting that the former PM had fallen into a "well-trodden Islamophobic path".

The MCB also condemned Truss's comments in an interview with the far-right commentator Steve Bannon, during which she claimed that a "radical jihadist party" could send someone to parliament, and remained silent when Bannon described the far-right figure Tommy Robinson as a "hero".

The MCB said in its letter that: "There is no radical Islamic party – this is false and Islamophobic to play to this trope of Muslims taking over."

The MCB had shared the letter with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to encourage Holden "to take this complaint seriously and take actions".


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak denied on Monday that his governing party tolerates anti-Muslim prejudice.

In response to Anderson's comments, Sunak told the BBC: "These comments weren’t acceptable, they were wrong."

Asked whether his party has an Islamophobia problem, Sunak said: "No, of course it doesn’t."

Meanwhile, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer accused Sunak of harbouring "extremists in his party".

Speaking to The Observer, Starmer said: "Whether it is Liz Truss staying silent on Tommy Robinson or Suella Braverman's extreme rhetoric, Rishi Sunak’s weakness means Tory MPs can act with impunity."

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In 2021, an investigation into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party found there was no institutional racism in the party, although the inquiry was criticised for excluding Muslim members.

The latest string of Islamophobic rhetoric came as anti-hate monitoring group Tell MAMA reported that anti-Muslim hate incidents in the UK more than tripled in the last four months, following the outbreak of the war in Gaza.