Claims of Islamophobia should remind this government to stand up for British values
3 min read
Westminster is once again engulfed in high drama and turbulence behind which very fundamental issues are thrown to the fore for determination.
The idea that a Muslim female MP could be removed from her ministerial role because of her religion is a very serious allegation and ought to be completely unimaginable in modern day Britain.
Both Nus Ghani and Mark Spencer deserve a thorough and independent process to determine the facts so lessons can be learned.
To properly assess Boris Johnson’s assertion that he takes complaints about Islamophobia seriously, it is important to address two main points.
Firstly, what has changed? The Prime Minister has now decided a Cabinet Office inquiry is warranted – as opposed to when he was first alerted by Nus Ghani to her complaint two years ago. At that time, it is alleged he decided the complaint was not something he could give any consideration to, as Prime Minister.
Quite a stark contrast is emerging between how the Conservative Party is addressing these issues compared with the government
Secondly, what has become of the Singh Report on discrimination and handling of complaints, particularly in relation to anti-Muslim discrimination? It set out constructive conclusions and recommendations, all accepted by the Conservative party chairman and board eight months ago.
The answers to these questions will help determine the seriousness of intent in dealing with anti-Muslim discrimination, which is distinct from and much more prevalent than Islamophobia, by both the government and Conservative party.
The government remains adamant that there is a real difference between the two and appointed Qari Asim MBE to define Islamophobia. Anti-Muslim discrimination being an unintended consequence, whereas Islamophobia requires actual intent to discriminate on a religious anti-Islam basis.
A report providing a six-monthly update on the Singh Report’s recommendations has been compiled by the Conservative party chairman’s office. This is encouraging and sets out in clear terms the progress that has been made, work in progress, and what remains to be addressed with timelines identified.
Quite a stark contrast is emerging between how the Conservative Party is addressing these issues compared with the government. Qari Asim awaits serious engagement from ministers with his emails going mainly unanswered.
Wider examination of this government’s agenda sheds light on how it views issues of rights and discrimination. The Nationalities and Borders Bill, Policing Bill and stated ambitions for Judicial Review all provide an insight to the government’s direction of travel which gives considerable cause for concern.
Strands of the Conservative movement, such as the One Nation group and the Conservative European Forum, see the dangers for the Union and liberal democracy. The government appears intent on a departure from traditional British values.
As events unfold, it is clear that a chasm is emerging between the Prime Minister, government, parts of the Conservative party and its supporters.
Ultimately, all of these considerations are inter-connected and will have a bearing not only on whether the Prime Minister survives for now, but what stamp this government will leave on the UK as to the values upon which it is to build its future.
Sajjad Karim was the first British Muslim elected to the European Parliament and Conservative Legal Affairs Spokesman in the European Parliament. He was the chair of the European Parliament Code of Conduct Committee and is chair of the Working Group on Islamaphobia.
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