Over 300 Muslim scholars and community heads have signed a petition calling for an investigation into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party, following comments made by the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. The MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, who is one of the bookies’ favourites to become the next Tory leader, caused outrage this week after likening Muslim women wearing full face veils 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 in its ranks. The petition, signed by “members of the Muslim community, Muslim Scholars, Chair of Masajid and organisations” called for “disciplinary action against Boris Johnson and [an] investigation [into] Islamophobia within the Conservative Party”.
In describing the “poison” of Islamophobia within the party, the petition cites comments made by its former co-Chair, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who said less than a month ago that racism towards Muslims is widespread and is being ignored by the Conservatives. The offensive comments made by Johnson, the signatories stress, “has publicly proved her allegations to be correct.”
This is the largest petition to be put together since the row over Islamophobia within the Tory party erupted. “There are MPs,” it claims, “who are supporting this xenophobic and discriminatory language.”
The British Muslims who have signed call on the Conservative Party to take disciplinary action against the former Foreign Secretary. The initiative also backed the Muslim Council of Britain’s appeal in May for the Tories to “investigate Islamophobic attitudes of Conservative party members, candidates and MPs.”
The MCB is said to have highlighted nine cases in a two-month period which, it insists, requires an immediate response from the ruling party. Johnson, it has been pointed out, is not the first high profile Conservative to make allegedly Islamophobic remarks; others include the London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith.
“Islamophobia has become mainstream in the United Kingdom and is on the increase,” notes the petition. It coincides with growing concern raised by a British Rabbi and Jewish community leaders over Islamophobia and growing signs of solidarity between sections of the Jewish community and the far-right in this country.