The Windrush Scandal isn’t even over, but a fresh racism crisis is about to rock the Tories

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Fréa Lockley

Despite Amber Rudd’s resignation, the Windrush scandal is not the only example of extensive racist treatment of UK citizens from Conservatives. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has repeatedly called on the government to investigate Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. This is significant, because its latest call comes as Islamophobic hate crimes in London have risen over 31% in the past year. It looks like dangerous double standards are in play.

Islamophobia

Left Foot Forward reports that, according to the latest figures from the Metropolitan Police:

1665 hate crimes against Muslims were recorded in 2017-18. That would equal a 31.5% yearly rise in Islamophobic assaults.

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But worryingly:

The figures could, however, be larger, as the Met also catalogs racist and religious hate crimes, as well as faith hate crimes, separately.

The MCB called for an inquiry into Conservative Islamophobia in 2016 and 2017 and it has now issued the call again:

This is significant, because Islamophobia appears to be rife among Conservatives. As Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi said on ITV‘s Peston on Sunday show:

I know within my own party, there are almost now weekly occurrences of Islamophobic incidents and rhetoric.

But it seems to be an issue that the party is unwilling to confront. Because in response to Warsi’s comments, deputy chair James Cleverly denied there was a problem and said:

No, I don’t believe, I don’t agree with that as an assessment.

Yet Cleverly’s comments came only days after Conservative council candidate Darren Harrison, with whom Cleverly has campaigned, showed support for “a racist, far-right group whose leaders are banned from the UK”.

Double standards

For months, allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party have been front-page news. But the media seems to be ignoring these allegedly Islamophobic Conservatives. As many people pointed out on Twitter, it very much looks like a case of double standards is playing out in the mainstream media:

Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the MCB, claims “press racism” is also a huge problem:

This is significant. Because, in October 2016, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) – part of the Council of Europe – said that media-fuelled prejudice against Muslims “showed a reckless disregard… for their safety”. And the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) recently ruled that a story run in The Times about a child placed with Muslim foster carers “distorted” facts.

“Dog whistle racism”

As Vice reported, renewed calls for an inquiry are well founded.

According to The Independent, the MCB called for an “urgent inquiry into alleged Islamophobia in its ranks” in 2016. This followed Zac Goldsmith’s attacks on Sadiq Khan during the London mayoral campaign:

The Tories were also accused of “dog whistle racism” after describing Mr Khan as “radical”, that London would not be safe under his watch, and suggesting he had associated with extremists.

But no inquiry took place.

Vice report also states that recent Islamophobic charges against Conservative Party members include:

Mike Payne, councillor for Sowerby Bridge was suspended on the 4th of April pending investigation after sharing an article which referred to Muslims as “parasites”. There’s also Hackney council candidate Alexander van Terheyden, who was suspended on 17th April pending “urgent investigation” for his opinions including that the Crusades were “simply a response to Islam spreading through Europe by the sword”. Terheyden claims he is not anti-Muslim, only anti-Islam…

It very much looks as if the Tories won’t fully investigate claims of Islamophobia. But as incidents of Islamic hate crime rise, it’s terrifying to think what the implications might be if they refuse to challenge their systemic and entrenched racism.

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