Nusrat Ghani’s claim of Islamophobia a ‘lame excuse’ for sacking, says Michael Fabricant

‘Let’s be clear: it is not the role of any man, Muslim or non-Muslim, to police a woman’s faith because of clothes she wears,’ said one Labour shadow minister

Emily Atkinson
Sunday 23 January 2022 22:07
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Nusrat Ghani’s claim of Islamophobia a ‘lame excuse’ for sacking, says Michael Fabricant

Michael Fabricant has sparked anger after he described Nusrat Ghani’s claims of Islamophobia as a “lame excuse” for being sacked from her job as a Conservative minister.

Ms Ghani claimed in an interview with The Sunday Times that a Conservative whip told her Muslim faith was “making colleagues feel uncomfortable” after losing her government job in 2020.

She had asked a party whip about the decision and was told her religion was discussed at a Downing Street meeting.

Reacting to the Ms Ghani’s allegations, the Tory MP for Lichfield said it “stinks” as she is “ barely someone who is obviously a Muslim.”

Speaking on LBC this afternoon, Mr Fabricant said: “The timing is interesting.

“It’s not only open season on the whip’s office. I think, far more importantly, it’s open season on Boris Johnson and putting pressure on him from the party to try and get him to resign, which I think is all very, very sad.

“Prejudice of any kind in modern Britain is pretty pathetic. It was pathetic 100 years ago and it’s even more pathetic now when this sort of thing happens.

“But ministers come and they go. Sometimes, it’s because you want to refresh the ministerial team. Sometimes, it’s because they were useless. Sometimes, because they are just average and mediocre, and you want to put somebody else in.

He added: “I think the whole thing actually stinks - the accusation being made by Nusrat Ghani.

“For her to say that someone had said it’s because she’s a Muslim - I mean she’s barely someone who is obviously a Muslim. I had no idea what religion she is.

“The Labour MP, Keith Vaz, who was of south Asian origin, he actually - I do know because we discussed it, and he’s no longer an MP - is a Goan Christian. Others are Hindus, others are Muslims, and whatever.

“But, with her, it wasn’t apparent. So, it does seem rather a lame excuse to me that she claims she was sacked because of that.

“Frankly, the timing is very suspicious.”

Mr Fabricant’s comments have been met with uproar from a number of MPs.

Shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, called the remarks “appalling and disgraceful,” adding: “If the Tories wanted to show they were serious about tackling Islamophobia, they could start by removing the whip from Michael Fabricant.”

Meanwhile, the shadow minister for Legal Aid, Afzal Khan, tweeted: “What does Fabricant mean here?

“At the risk of overinterpretting the rantings of a racist, I think he means that @Nus_Ghani does not wear a hijab.

He continued: “Let’s be clear: it is not the role of any man, Muslim or non-Muslim, to police a woman’s faith because of clothes she wears.”

It comes as Ms Ghani has now claimed she was told by Boris Johnson that he could not get involved after she spoke to him about the allegations.

In a statement, the Conservative MP for Wealden and former Department for Transport minister said she only wanted the government “to take this seriously, investigate properly and ensure no other colleague has to endure this”.

She said: “When I told the Prime Minister in June 2020 what had been said to me in the Government Whips’ Office I urged him to take it seriously as a Government matter and instigate an inquiry.

“He wrote to me that he could not get involved and suggested I use the internal Conservative Party complaint process.

“This, as I had already pointed out, was very clearly not appropriate for something that happened on Government business - I do not even know if the words that were conveyed to me about what was said in reshuffle meetings at Downing Street were by members of the Conservative Party.”

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