New Tory leader ‘must take action on Islamophobia after Boris Johnson’s silence’

New Tory leader'must take serious action on Islamophobia after Boris radio silence'

The head of the Muslim Council of Britain says “no concrete steps” have been taken to tackle the problem (Image: Getty Images)

Britain’s leading Muslim organization says the new Prime Minister must take seriously “systemic” Islamophobia within the Tory party after Boris Johnson experienced “alarming radio silence” on the issue and little discussion of it in the leadership competition so far.

The outgoing British leader should have apologized in his resignation speech last week for failing the Muslim community, as well as many others in the UK, believes the Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Speaking to, Zara Mohammed has warned that “no concrete steps” have been taken to tackle the ongoing problem – despite the MCB having recorded more than 300 cases of Islamophobia in the Tory party since 2019.

Her comments come after claims by Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani that her “Muslimness” was aired when she was sacked as transport minister and revived claims that the party is institutionally Islamophobic.

Mark Spencer, the chief whip at the time, said he was the person who spoke to Ms Ghani but described the claims as “completely false and I find them defamatory”. A report on an investigation into the matter is due to be released six months later.

A long-awaited 2021 Islamophobia review within the Conservatives acknowledged that there had been anti-Muslim sentiment and criticized the party for failing to properly investigate the allegations – although no evidence was found that the political group was institutionally is Islamophobic.

Critics condemned the report as “whitewash,” arguing that it focused on the grievance process and failed to identify endemic party bias.

Whoever is chosen from the final five hopefuls to lead the UK “has to represent everyone and they have to make sure they do so fairly,” Ms Mohammed said.

Undated handout photo issued by the Muslim Council of Britain of Zara Mohammed who was elected the first female Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). Issue date: Sunday January 31, 2021. PA Photo. Zara Mohammed, a Masters in human rights law and training and development consultant, has been elected to Britain's largest umbrella organization of mosques, Islamic schools and Muslim associations. See PA story SOCIAL Mohammed. Photo credit should read: MCB/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to simultaneously illustrate events, things or people in the photo or facts mentioned in the photo caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

Zara Mohammed, the first female general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, wants a leader who “takes Islamophobia seriously” (Image: PA)

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A report found evidence of anti-Muslim sentiment in the Tory party but said it was not institutionally racist (Image: Anadolu Agency Provider: Getty Images)

“We want these new candidates to actually take this issue seriously because it’s pretty ingrained.

“We found over 300 cases, as well as senior members of the party itself, who have complained about the problem.”

She continued: “There must be a commitment to zero tolerance of Islamophobia – a pledge by the party that action will be taken if there are Islamophobic comments, whether it be a dismissal or a disciplinary action.

“There needs to be a really strong voice of leadership saying, ‘This is totally unacceptable and doesn’t reflect the views of the Conservative Party.’

Islamophobia remains a major problem in society – according to the Home Office’s 2021 census report, anti-Muslim hate crimes account for almost half of all religiously aggravated crimes.

Ms Mohammed – the first female MCB leader – declined to speak about specific Tory leadership candidates, saying they “all had their pros and cons”.

But she has slammed Mr Johnson for being “famous” for his comments comparing burqa-wearing women to “letterboxes and bank robbers”.

“We haven’t seen an excuse for that,” she said. “I think the impact this had on Muslim women was real.

“We’ve seen an increase in hate crimes, particularly against Muslim women who subsequently wore the burqa or veil, and even a reliance on racists and fanatics who feel they have a right to say such things or to allow such things do.”

FILE PHOTO: MP Nusrat Ghani speaks during a session of Parliament in London, Britain May 12, 2021. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT/File Photo

MP Nusrat Ghani claimed her “Muslimness” was awakened when she was sacked as transport minister (Image: via Reuters).

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 19: Protesters gather outside the BBC Broadcasting House ahead of a march against racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and fascism and to show their support for refugees as part of the United Nations Anti-Racism Day in London, United Kingdom March 19, 2022. Activists are calling for action to eradicate institutional racism in response to the police strip search of Child Q and to allow all refugees to be welcome as over 3.3 million people have been displaced since the Russian attack began three weeks ago fled Ukraine. (Photo by Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Anti-Muslim hate crimes account for nearly half of all religiously aggravated crimes (Image: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

She continued, “The feedback we’re getting from Muslim communities is that they don’t feel that this government has really reached out to Muslim communities effectively. Didn’t put that much effort into it…

“I think it’s time we see inclusive leadership that is willing to work with Muslim communities and all communities.

“We want to see that across the political spectrum, but certainly with the Conservatives when the leadership election comes around.

“Can we get a policy to be proud of instead of ashamed?”

The MCB is calling on the new government to adopt a definition of Islamophobia that can be used to combat hate, after the government promised to create one back in 2018.

Ms Mohammed also wants policies that include minorities on issues such as employment and economic capital.

A UK Government spokesman said: “We have a zero-tolerance approach to hatred against Muslims in all forms and will continue to fight discrimination and intolerance.”

The Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) said it would not be able to comment until the end of the leadership contest in September.

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Justin Scacco

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