Today the Muslim Council of Britain calls on the Conservatives to respond to serious concerns of Islamophobia in the party, especially after Boris Johnson made unacceptable remarks comparing Muslim women who wear the niqab to letterboxes and bank robbers. The intentional usage of the words in a national newspaper appear to be to pander to the far right.
While the call on Johnson to apologise by Party Chairman Brandon Lewis is right as a minimum, Mr Lewis and the party must now respond to previously ignored calls for action.
In particular, we call on Mr Lewis and the Conservative Party leadership to answer the following questions:
1: Mr Johnson has a history of Islamophobic comments. Will his apology cover his Telegraph outburst? Or will it also include previous incendiary remarks? These include his statement that “Islam is the problem” and that “Islamophobia was a natural reaction”.
2. Does Mr Lewis agree with Conservative Muslim Forum Chair Mohammed Amin, who said that Boris Johnson should be threatened with the removal of the whip?
3. Given Nadine Dorries’ support for the ban of the niqab in opposition to the stated “British value” of “individual liberty” and her previous troubling statements, will Mr Lewis be speaking with her?
4. Does Mr Lewis agree that it is now time to instigate an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party? It is now widely acknowledged that the Conservative Party has a poor relationship with Britain’s Muslim communities. Given the recent revelations about Steve Bannon’s meetings with senior Conservatives, any independent inquiry should determine the scope of links between senior party members and those with a consistently hostile agenda against Muslims.[ENDS]