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UK: 40 Conservative members reported to Islamophobia inquiry

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech during the Conservative Party annual conference in Manchester, UK 2 on October 2019 [Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency]
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech during the Conservative Party annual conference in Manchester, UK on 2 October 2019 [Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency]

Forty Conservative party councillors have been reported to an Islamophobia inquiry by anti-racism campaigners, Hope not Hate, as part of a drive for evidence in the party-wide discrimination investigation launched late last year.

Hope not Hate's submission, published online today, has identified dozens of Conservative party members who expressed Islamophobic or anti-Muslim sentiments online, providing screenshots of their comments and tweets.

Several of the screenshots detail Islamophobic and anti-Muslim comments dating as far back as 2010, with one Conservative party councillor's comments, in support of US President Donald Trump's proposed Muslim travel ban, shown as saying: "Let's show them that Christian values are better than Muslim values, turn the other cheek. Show them that we won't be beaten."

The report also published statistics on Conservative party Islamophobia, collected in a YouGov poll last year. The poll found that 47 per cent of the 1,200 surveyed party members believe Islam is "a threat to the British way of life" and that, from that group, half believe the religion "breeds intolerance".

READ: Britain to return stolen artefact to Iraq

The YouGov poll also found that Conservative party respondents had significantly more negative attitudes towards Muslims than the general public, who were also asked to answer the poll.

The Conservative party has long faced criticism over its failure to tackle Islamophobia within the organisation, yet 79 per cent of party member respondents said they thought there was no problem.

While only one in six-party members said they thought the organisation should be doing more to combat racism within the party.

The data was submitted as part of a public drive for evidence in the second stage of the investigation into discrimination within the party and how it handles complaints, which is being led by Professor Swaran Preet Singh.

Several Conservative party members have been suspended over Islamophobic or racist comments in recent years, but according to Hope not Hate, there are numerous cases where offenders were quietly readmitted to the organisation after only a brief suspension.

In one case, Hope not Hate said, a councillor was suspended and later expelled from the party over racist comments he made about Sadiq Khan during the 2016 mayoral elections. Months later, however, the same man was quietly readmitted to the party.

Speaking to the Times, a Conservative party spokesperson said the organisation would consider a variety of recommendations to improve the complaints process and prevent discrimination as part of the investigation but provided no further information on the allegations.

READ: Britain's Labour Party accused of purging members critical of Israel

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