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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Broken Tory promises on Islamphobia?

The Guardian reports that an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party, promised by Boris Johnson if he wins the leadership race, has been downgraded to a “general investigation” into all types of prejudice.

The paper says that the idea was raised by Sajid Javid during a BBC leadership debate involving the candidates still in the race at the time – the others being Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Rory Stewart:

Asked if he believed such an inquiry should be held, Javid said: “Yes I would – do you all agree, guys? Shall we have an external investigation in the Conservative party into Islamophobia?” The other candidates all seemingly agreed, with none raising any objections.

But in the ConservativeHome interview, when asked about the plan, Johnson said: “Well, I took it up with Saj afterwards and he said that actually, if I understand it correctly, what we’ve committed to is a general investigation into all types of prejudice and discrimination, including antisemitism.”

Asked if this would be an independent investigation, Johnson replied: “Yup.” He added: “So yes, we’ll have to study exactly what Saj has in mind, but it sounded like a sensible idea when he mentioned it.”

They add that the move was condemned by the Muslim Council of Britain, which said it demonstrated an “unwillingness to deal with bigotry seriously”, while Labour said Johnson had “broken his promise in less than two weeks”.

The extent of the problem facing the new Tory leader in putting this issue to bed was evidenced by the results of a poll of Tory members earlier this week. That poll found nearly half would prefer not to have a Muslim prime minister:

The survey, carried out by YouGov for the anti-racism group Hope Not Hate, also found more than two-thirds of Tory members believe the myth that parts of the UK are under sharia law, and 45% think some areas are not safe for non-Muslims.

Half the party’s members think Islamophobia is a big issue, but only 8% believe it is a problem within the party, the survey found, while 40% of members wanted to see fewer Muslims in the UK.

It is little wonder that the promises being made by Tory candidates are carrying little weight with the Muslim Council of Britain
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