Boris Johnson was forced to apologise on Wednesday after the Muslim Council of Britain highlighted a litany of cases of undealt with islamophobia in the Conservative Party which “has been approached with denial, dismissal and deceit by the party.”
While she was grateful for Johnson’s apology former Conservative Party co-chair and the first Muslim to attend a Conservative cabinet, Baroness Warsi today said people in Britain’s Muslim community “feel concern… they feel anxious.”
She said that Boris Johnson’s own islamophobic utterances had “consequences,” leading to increased attacks on Muslim women, and added that Johnson’s racist and homophobic words “have consequences” and “are not fitting for a Prime Minister of this country.”
The Conservative peer said that in her years of fighting “structural” racism within the Conservative party, many politicians had told her about incidents but were afraid to go public as it would end their career.
She also invited that pressure had been put on her Muslim Conservative colleague Sajid Javid to roll back on his Tory leadership vow to hold an independent inquiry into islamophobia in the Tory party.
Baroness Warsi told the BBC’s World At One show: “There are many, many parliamentarians, MPs and candidates who have spoken to me in confidence where they have said they have experienced racism and islamophobia but they have said, ‘I know this will end my political career.’”
She added: “I know the huge pressure was put on Sajid Javid to roll back from that specific call for an independent inquiry into islamophobia and to water it down to an inquiry on all forms of prejudice so I hope that one day Sajid will be braver and bolder but I’m not going to criticise him in the meantime if he has got an eye on his political career.”
The former Tory co-chair said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was “in a very difficult position,” where “to call out islamophobia within the Conservative party, to hold the party to account for its racism is effectively a career ending moment.”
Boris Johnson’s racist comments led to increased attacks on Muslim women
Earlier this year we reported government figures that showed there was a 375% increase in reported attacks in the week after Boris Johnson mocked Muslim women as “bank robbers” and “letterboxes.”
The Tory peer said that while she didn’t believe that the Prime Minister is an islamophobe, “there is a space of privilege within which he exists where he feels sadly that there are no consequences to the words that he uses even when those words are crass, offensive and racist.“
She urged Johnson to “think again” Think about the words that you have used not just in relation to Muslim communities, but in terms of describing gay communities and black communities and other communities.” Think about those words that you uses because those words have consequences and those words are not fitting for a Prime Minister of this country.”
And she drew on the findings that Johnson’s islamophobic statements had led to violent attacks, adding: “When Boris Johnson made those crass comments on Muslim women wearing the niqab – that many visibly Muslim women… were attacked on our streets. In fact a government-funded organisation reported the increase in hate crime towards Muslim women as a result of those comments.”
She warned of “structural” islamophobia and a culture of “impunity” when it came to racism in the Conservative Party, but was glad that “dragging and screaming,” the party had finally “finally started to acknowledge the issue.”
Echoing the concerns of the Muslim Council of Britain, Baroness Warsi explained: “unfortunately the way in which the party have dealt with this now over a long length of time in which no consequences flow when you are islamophobic or make islamophobic comments within the party … we start to create a culture of impunity.”
Muslim Council of Great Britain accuses Tories of ‘denial, dismissal and deceit’ over their islamophobia
The Muslim Council of Britain yesterday echoed the concerns of Muslim voters and accused the Conservative party of “denial, dismissal and deceit” in dealing with its own islamophobia, detailing many cases where a blind eye was turned to blatant racism.
“Unfortunately Islamophobia is a serious problem, it’s endemic, it’s institutional within the Conservative Party” said the Muslim Council of Britain’s Miqdaad Versi, insisting that when Boris Johnson “said that there is zero tolerance for this just last week – that is a flat out lie unfortunately.”
Appearing on BBC Politics, he said in numerous cases “no action has been taken” and the Tory party was suffering a “structural problem” when it came to racism.
“Just in the last couple of the week there have been dozens of councillors- these are representatives of the conservative Party – who have engaged in islamophobia,” he told the Politics show, saying there had been “very little action , no transparency.”
He added that there had also just recently been election candidates “who have engaged with the far right – the islamophobic far right , have shared tweets of people like Tommy Robinson, and guess what – these are still candidate for the Conservative party. We can’t pretend for a moment that this is something that is being dealt with.”