The Conservative Party is coming under growing pressure to tackle Islamaphobia within its ranks following disparaging comments made by the former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, about Muslim women wearing the veil.
Muslim groups have denounced Johnson, who is one of the bookies' favourites to become the next Tory leader, for likening burka wearing Muslim women to "letterboxes" and "bank robbers". While senior Conservatives including Prime Minister Theresa May called on Johnson to apologise for his remarks – which he has refused to do so far – the party is widely viewed as having failed miserably in addressing anti-Muslim bigotry.
The "Conservative Party must confront its Islamophobia problem" was the latest cry from a Muslim group in the UK. Known as the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), the organisation founded over two decades ago said that the Conservative party had an "endemic problem with Islamophobia".
"For years now, prominent figures within the party have warned against the rise of a clearly Islamaphobic narrative," said MAB in a statement today. The organisation accused the Conservatives of "intentional disregard" of casual Islamophobia within the party which they said is fuelling bigotry, racism and xenophobia.
MAB cited the bitter and divisive Mayoral election of 2016 as an example of the Conservative Party's "endemic" problem with Muslims. The manner in which the Tory candidate, Zac Goldsmith, conducted his campaign was seen by many as as one of the most Islamophobic campaign ever run by a mainstream political party.
The organisation joined the ranks of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and former co-Chair of the Conservative party to call on the Tories to "investigate the deeply ingrained problem of Islamophobia throughout its ranks." MAB called on the governing party "to demonstrate that it is serious about Islamophobia, and to conduct a comprehensive and thorough investigation throughout its ranks."
MAB insists that firm measures are needed to challenge the rise of "this repugnant form of racism on every single level," while calling on the Tories to demonstrate that they are as committed to tackling anti-Muslim bigotry as they are in dealing with all forms of prejudice and discrimination, including anti-Semitism.