Nearly half of Tory members believe Islam is a “a threat to the British way of life”, according to a poll which anti-racism campaigners said showed the Conservative Party must face up to “widespread anti-Muslim prejudice in its ranks".
Fifty-seven per cent of members surveyed by YouGov admitted to having negative attitudes towards Muslims, with 58 per cent believing Islamaphobic conspiracy theories about “no-go areas” in Britain where Sharia law dominates and non-Muslims cannot enter.
Forty-seven per cent feel Islam is “generally a threat to the British way of life”, with little more than a quarter saying the religion was “compatible” with the country, found the survey commissioned by Hope Not Hate.
Only 31 per cent thought that discrimination against Muslims was a serious problem in Britain. Of those who claimed Islam to be threat, 50 per cent gave the justification that the religion “breeds intolerance”.
Hope Not Hate has submitted the research submitted to the Conservative Party’s inquiry into racism “all forms of racism”, a probe which Boris Johnson had initially promised during the Tory leadership campaign would look specifically at Islamophobia.
The anti-racism campaign group presented the survey alongside examples of 40 Conservative MPs, councillors and activists who expressed “discriminatory and prejudiced” views but faced either no action or only a short-term suspension. It said the case studies showed the party’s complaints procedure was “not fit” to tackle racism that is “rife".
One activist was suspended last year for making an Islamophobic joke about the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand. After completing an “online diversity course”, he was readmitted to the party and continued to make derogatory comments on Facebook.
Another councillor refused to apologise after being exposed for posting multiple Islamophobic remarks and was not suspended from office before his resignation on an unrelated disciplinary matter two years later.
The prime minister himself was infamously accused of Islamophobia in 2018 after writing a column for The Daily Telegraph in which he likened Muslim women who wear burqas to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”.
“The Conservative Party has to face up to the widespread anti-Muslim prejudice in its ranks if it ever hopes to eradicate the problem,” Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope not Hate, said. “It’s difficult to argue against the proof. The real question is how bold the Conservatives will be in taking action.”
A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “We take any complaint very seriously. There is currently an independent investigation into our complaints processes. We will consider any recommendations to further strengthen our procedures.”
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