Conservative investigation into prejudice and discrimination branded “a facade” by Muslim Council of Britain
The Muslim Council of Britain today described the Conservative Party’s investigation into discrimination a ‘façade’ following the publication of the terms of reference into the inquiry. The terms once again deflect the very real problem of Islamophobia in party.
Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said:
“We have previously described the Conservative Party’s attitude to Islamophobia as one of denial, dismissal and deceit. The publication of the terms of reference for its inquiry reflects that regrettable attitude. They are a façade to hide the hundreds of incidences of Islamophobic bigotry we have identified in its ranks. In sum, it seems even today, the Conservative Party refuses to acknowledge that there can be bigotry and prejudice directed at Muslims.”
This inquiry, originally committed to by all Conservative leadership candidates in July 2019, was due to look specifically into the problem of Islamophobia in the party, which has been extensively documented by the MCB. In May 2019, the MCB submitted its first complaint to the Equality and Human Rights Commission with c. 150 cases of Islamophobia from within the Conservative Party’s ranks, which the Commission is yet to comment on. In March 2020, the MCB resubmitted its complaint to the Commission with an updated dossier of over 300 cases, including allegations against prominent MPs and special advisers.
Now, the inquiry has limited its focus into only looking at the way in which the party handles complaints of prejudice and discrimination, instead of the issue of racism itself. The appointment of Professor Swaran Singh to chair the inquiry also comes with significant controversy. Singh has written for Spiked magazine despite it being a magazine well-known for its hostile views on Muslims, including downplaying the Srebrenica genocide, calling Islamophobia a myth and even undermining the fight against hate crime.
Harun Khan also said:
“After denying there was a problem in the first place, it has taken years for the leadership to enact any real action.
“By restricting the terms to an inquiry merely into the complaints received, the Party is choosing to summarily dismiss all the issues of the toxic culture of racism that have been raised by the Muslim Council of Britain and many others. A simple comparison to the Terms of Reference of the much maligned Chakrabarti review shows how flawed this is.
“This inquiry appears aimed at deceiving the public and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission that the problem is being looked into, when in reality the majority of the issue has already been dismissed, and the person tasked with doing the investigation is mired in controversy, making claims of true independence hard to justify.
“Whilst 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.”