Tory party suspends 14 members for posting Islamophobic or racist comments online

Exclusive: Comments include calling for Muslims to be 'turfed out of public office'

Tuesday 05 March 2019 15:51 GMT
Afzal Khan challenges Theresa May on Islamophobia in the Conservative Party

Fourteen Conservative party members have been suspended after posting Islamophobic or racist comments on social media, The Independent can reveal.

Comments found on a pro-Jacob Rees-Mogg Facebook group from Conservative party members included calling for Muslims to be “turfed out of public office”, for the government to “get rid of all mosques” and calling Home Secretary Sajid Javid a “Trojan horse”.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which has repeatedly called for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia within the party, said the latest revelation was ”astonishing”.

“We’ve seen MPs, councillors and members engage in bigotry that should have no place in a modern Conservative Party,” a spokesperson for the MCB said.

“Yet the constructive call by Muslim communities for an independent inquiry into the issue has been ignored again and again. Instead we hear excuses, denials and the responses we would expect when there is an institutional problem. We call again for an independent inquiry, and hope the call will now be heeded.”

The comments were first highlighted by Twitter user @MatesJacob. Screenshots of the posts were then passed by The Independent to Conservative Party HQ, which confirmed that action was being taken against 14 of 25 individuals named. The remaining 11 were found not to be members of the party.

It comes as the Tories were described as being “institutionally Islamophobic” by its former chair, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi.

Baroness Warsi made the claims after it was revealed that a Conservative Party council candidate had previously been suspended for comments on social media.

Peter Lamb was suspended by the party in 2015 after series of online posts about Muslims.

He was later readmitted and “apologised for his comments”, the Conservatives said.

Baroness Warsi, the former co-chair of the Conservative Party, said the local party had given Mr Lamb a “slap on the wrist” and that the issue of Islamophobia had “gripped” the party.

“It is appalling that a man suspended for Islamophobic comments just two years ago has been re-admitted and allowed to stand as a candidate,” she told PoliticsHome.

“…This rot is institutional and it’s why I have been urging the prime minister and others to hold an independent inquiry,” the Tory peer added.

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In response to the latest revelation, a Conservative spokesperson said: “This Facebook group is in no way affiliated with the Conservative Party and many of the people identified on it are not party members.

“However, we have identified some people who are party members and they have been immediately suspended, pending further investigation.

“When we find evidence of members making offensive or inappropriate comments, we consistently take decisive action. Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong and will not be tolerated.”

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