Theresa May urged to launch inquiry into Conservative Islamophobia by senior Tory peer

Exclusive: Lord Sheikh calls on No 10 to address this ‘matter of grave concern’

Saturday 02 June 2018 16:30 BST
Lord Mohamed Sheikh
Lord Mohamed Sheikh (UK Parliament)

A senior Conservative peer has written to Theresa May backing calls for an inquiry into Islamophobia within the party, The Independent can reveal.

Lord Sheikh, who served as an adviser to David Cameron, has called on Ms May to look into the issue, describing it as a “matter of grave concern to the many Muslim members and supporters of the party”.

In his letter to No 10, Lord Sheikh highlights Zac Goldsmith’s London mayoral election campaign in 2016, Bob Blackman MP hosting Tapan Ghosh, an Indian Hindu nationalist, in parliament, and the lack of Muslim candidates in the last general election.

“I call on you as the prime minister to take the following two steps immediately. Firstly, set up an independent inquiry – we must investigate instances of Islamophobic conduct and isolate them swiftly,” Lord Sheikh says in the letter seen by The Independent.

“Secondly the prime minister should reach out to all outreach groups of the Conservative Party such as the Conservative Muslim Forum and actively engage in dialogue.”

The comments come days after The Independent revealed that the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) had written to the Tories to demand an urgent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party.

The organisation, which represents more than 500 mosques, schools and associations in Britain, urged the party to conduct a full audit to tackle the “more than weekly occurrences of Islamophobia from candidates and representatives of the party”.

Lord Sheikh said the MCB letter came “as no surprise to me and should not come as a surprise to the party either”.

The MCB’s letter cited 10 examples of Islamophobia by members of the party that have been revealed in an eight-week period since 5 April.

Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “The Conservative Party prides itself in being against any form of bigotry and racism yet there are serious concerns that its best values are being disfigured by Islamophobic views.

“We look forward to the party taking forward our suggestion of an inquiry into Islamophobia and we are happy to help support in any capacity we can.”

A Tory councillor was suspended this week after he allegedly posted Islamophobic comments about London mayor Sadiq Khan on Facebook.

Stephen Ardley, a councillor on Waveney District Council, allegedly said it was “unbelievable” that a Muslim had been elected and went on to describe those who voted for him as “blind”.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Stephen Ardley has been suspended. An investigation is under way.”

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