Muslim Council of Britain condemns Conservative Party over Islamophobia: 'Fundamental failures in every single way'

'Not just small failures, fundamental failures in every single way'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 11 June 2019 17:44 BST
Miqdaad Versi on the fundamental failures in Conservative Party over Islamophobia

Britain's largest Muslim organisation has condemned the Conservatives over "fundamental failures" in addressing Islamophobia within the party's ranks.

In alarming remarks, the spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said he had documented "hundreds of cases" showing the scale of Islamophobia in Tory quarters.

It comes after the MCB submitted more than 20 pages of evidence to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, urging investigators to launch an official probe into accusations within the party.

Appearing at an inquiry of the Home Affairs Select Committee in Westminster into the definition of Islamophobia, Miqdaad Versi vented frustration at inaction and "unequivocal failures".

MPs also heard criticism of Boris Johnson, the ex-foreign secretary who is currently the frontrunner in the Conservative leadership race, after he compared women wearing niqabs to "letterboxes" in a column last year.

Addressing the committee on Tuesday, Mr Versi said: "We have seen unequivocal failures - specifically the Conservative Party when it comes to Islamophobia. Not just small failures, fundamental failures in every single way. I'm talking about leadership within the party, for example the mayoral election.

"I'm talking about issues when Members of Parliament have done certain things and no action has been taken against them. I'm talking about when councillors and representatives of the Conservative Party have said or done things which are inappropriate or unacceptable.

"Sometimes you've had action taken against them, and sometimes no action taken unless and until the media have been called at which point action has been done.

He continued: "And then what happens? A few weeks later they are quietly let back into the party. These type of things are unacceptable.

"There is a fundamental failure of process, there is a fundamental failure of the fact that this is an important issue. I think there is this idea that this is not a problem for us, and I think that is unacceptable.

"We need to be fully cognisant of where things are going wrong so things can get better. So until and unless there that acknowledgement there is a serious problem there will never be a solution taken."

Iman Atta, the director of Tell MAMA, an organisation that records and measures anti-Muslim incidents in the UK, also appalled to candidates vying to become the next prime minister to be careful with their words, as she singled out Mr Johnson.

She said: "As for the candidates, I think different candidates have said different things. But one of the things definitely we've seen following Boris Johnson's comments around women wearing the face veil was a rise in reports from women wearing the face veil.

"The words letterboxes and the words bank robbers were used on the street at women wearing head scarves - not only just face veils.

"Political leadership comes with responsibility because people will look out to that political leader, people will look out to the words that political leader is using and people will eventually use these words on the ground and on the streets."

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