Islamophobia inquiry 'deliberately excluded' Muslim Tories

UK Conservative party 'deliberately excluded' Muslim members from Islamophobia inquiry, ex-MEP says
2 min read
04 June, 2021
Sajjad Karim, a former Conservative MEP, told a Guardian politics podcast that Muslim Tories were deliberately excluded from an inquiry into Islamophobia within party ranks to “skewer” findings.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson later distanced himself from past use of "offending language" towards Muslims [Getty]

Muslim members of UK's ruling Conservative party were deliberately left out of an independent inquiry into Islamophobia within the party, a former European lawmaker has claimed.

The investigation led by Professor Swaran concluded in late May that anti-Muslim sentiment was a problem within Tory ranks but fell short of "institutional racism".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson later distanced himself from past use of "offending language" towards Muslims, but leading Muslim party members have dismissed the probe's findings as a "whitewash".

Speaking to The Guardian's Politics Weekly podcast, Sajjad Karim, who was Conservative MEP for North West England between 2004 and 2019, revealed he relayed a "particular" complaint to party officials before the inquiry began.

Without elaborating further, Karim said he was assured that he would be contacted but heard "absolutely nothing". Once the investigation concluded, Conservative central headquarters apologised, telling him that it was "too late…to contribute".

The trend of deliberate exclusion was repeated among other Muslim Tories to manipulate findings, Sajjad claimed, voicing concerns that the party would used “"sleight of hand" to avoid implementing the inquiry’s recommendations.

When raising the issue of Islamophobia in the past, "people like me…simply get portrayed as individuals who really are just troublemakers and nothing more than that", Sajjad said.

Perspectives

The former MEP slammed Johnson for "mealy mouthed" and "insulting" apologies for his past Islamophobic comments, such as comparing Muslim women who wore the burka to letterboxes and bank robbers in a newspaper column.

While Swaran’s investigation found examples of anti-Muslim discrimination at individual and local levels, Sajjad told The Guardian that he had experienced Islamophobia "both at a local and a parliamentary level" – suggesting the problem "permeates right the way through" the party.

His comments mirror those of Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the party's former chair. She disagreed with the review’s conclusion that found no evidence of institutional racism, saying there issues with Islamophobia "from the top…to the bottom" of the party.

Over half of Conservative Party members see Islam as a threat to the British way of life, according to a 2020 YouGov poll.