Muslim Council of Britain accuses Tories of 'deceit' over Islamophobia as they back Chief Rabbi on anti-semitism

Posted On: 
26th November 2019

The Conservative party has responded to Islamophobia with "denial, dismissal and deceit", according to a national Muslim umbrella group.

The Conservatives have faced criticism over their response to anti-Muslim abuse.
Credit: 
PA

The Muslim Council of Britain - which represents more than 500 mosques and charities - said the party appeared to have turned a "blind eye" to discrimination against followers of the faith.

The group renewed its criticism of the Tories on Tuesday as it backed an intervention from the Chief Rabbi over Labour's handling of anti-semitism.

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Writing in The Times, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis had said Jews had "been treated by many as an irritant, as opposed to a minority community with genuine concerns" for questioning Labour's stance on anti-Jewish abuse.

And he suggested Jeremy Corbyn was "unfit for high office" because of the party's response.

While he stopped short of urging a vote against Labour, he called for everyone in Britain to "vote with their conscience" in the upcoming general election.

In its own statement, the MCB said: "Today's statement by the Chief Rabbi highlights the real fear many British Jews have, regarding the unacceptable presence of anti-semitism in Britain and in politics today.

"Racism wherever it comes from - whether from the left or the right - is unacceptable, and not enough is being done. We agree with the Chief Rabbi's observation that some politicians have shown courage but too many have sat silent.

But the MCB also trained its fire on the Tories, who have faced criticism after appearing to water down a promised inquiry into anti-Muslim abuse, and sparked outrage with Boris Johnson's own description of women wearing the veil as "letterboxes" in a newspaper column.

A string of members have meanwhile been suspended from the party in recent months over anti-Muslim comments posted online.

An MCB spokesperson said: "Muslims are a diverse community and realise different Muslims will make up their own minds on who to vote for.

"But the way that the Chief Rabbi had shared his experiences and insights, has highlighted the importance of speaking out on the racism we face, whilst maintaining our non-partisan stance."

They added: "As a faith community, we commonly are threatened by Islamophobia. This an issue that is particularly acute in the Conservative Party who have approached Islamophobia with denial, dismissal and deceit.

"It is abundantly clear to many Muslims that the Conservative Party tolerate Islamophobia, allow it to fester in society, and fail to put in place the measures necessary to root out this type of racism. It is as if the Conservative Party has a blind spot for this type of racism.

"British Muslims - whilst from the most disadvantaged communities and rarely allowed a voice in the public space - will listen to the Chief Rabbi and agree on the importance of voting with their conscience."

Among the most vocal critics of the Conservative response to Islamophobia has been the party's former party co-chair Baroness Warsi.

On Tuesday she took to Twitter to condemn those attacking the Chief Rabbi over his intervention.

"He is NOT asking people to choose one party mired in racism over another mired in racism - he is asking people 'to vote with their conscience'," the former Cabinet minister said.

"This is a man of faith appealing to our moral sense of right and wrong."