It’s difficult to take the Muslim Council of Britain seriously when they do much of anything much less when they call for the governing Conservative Party to launch an investigation into Islamophobia in their own party. It would be interesting to see the reaction of the Muslim Council of Britain were we to call for them to investigate antisemitism within their ranks and in the speakers they invite to mosques affiliated to them.
Harry’s Place exists out of a sense of dissatisfaction from people on the left of the political spectrum who couldn’t understand how it was possible that their movement was allying with and even presenting as progressive those whose views on freedom of speech, homosexuality, freedom of religion (and freedom to abandon religion) were so utterly reactionary as to advocate Koranic punishments for them. More than this, the founders of the blog couldn’t understand how it was possible that not only were the leaders of the left wing turning a blind eye to this but actively embracing those who justified and even advocated killing innocent people for example the “crime” of living a liberal life in the West and leaving their religion behind them.
Watching people such as Yusuf Qaradawi, whose rulings provided religious justification for suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, being literally embraced by Ken Livingstone is a case in point:
And now Jeremy Corbyn has backed the Muslim Council of Britain’s demand that the Constervatives launch an investigation into Islamophobia in its ranks. Writing in the Telegraph Ed Husain calls this “the worst kind of whataboutery”he goes on to say;
For more than a decade, Corbyn has been a vocal supporter of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and a friend to several of its leaders. To their shame, the MCB – who were first to call for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Tory party – have used the term as a political card, mimicking homophobia. Anti-Muslim bigotry undoubtedly exists, but it must be more than merely a stick with which to beat the Conservatives, a political party which gave the world a Muslim chairperson, a culturally Muslim Home Secretary and prime ministers that host Iftar and Eid gatherings in Downing Street.
We forget at our peril that the MCB’s long-term leader Sir Iqbal Sacranie (yes, knighted) led campaigns against freedom of expression, saying that “death” would be “too easy” for Salman Rushdie. This is the same MCB that refused to attend Holocaust Memorial Day for years, and which, after the July 7 terrorist attacks, blamed British foreign policy for the deaths of innocents in London. A poll by Policy Exchange found that only 2 per cent of UK Muslims saw themselves as represented by the MCB.
Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim Chairperson of the Tory Party, has supported the MCB call for an inquiry into islamophobia. Warsi resigned from her role as Foreign Office Minister in 2014. Her stated reason for doing so was over David Cameron’s refusal to sanction Israel harshly enough during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. She Tweeted that:
With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza
— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) August 5, 2014
But whereas Warsi takes issue with the UK government’s inability to remain a colonial power and force other countries around the world, or perhaps just Israel, to handover their decision making process to London she’s by no means too moral to share platforms with antisemites like Asa Winstanley and Tim “Jewish power” Llewelyn:
Asa Winstanley claims that antisemitism in the Labour Party is just a conspiracy to attack Jeremy Corbyn, yet Warsi had no moral issues about sitting right next to him in order to attack Israel and the British government as it was 100 years ago. The above event took place at the end of last year in Bath.
While the source of the call for an inquiry is odious the question at the heart of it is an important one. Is there islamophobia in the Conservative Party?
Yes there is. The party has suspended members and even councillors for making odious remarks on their social media. Should victims of racism be reporting that racism to the party with the expectation that the party will act?
Yes of course they should.
In his inquiry into the handling of the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence Sir William Macpherson established an important principle when it came to the way issues of racism should be handled, he stated that a racist incident is “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”. This doesn’t mean that an incident perceived as racist is, in fact racist, it places an obligation on the part of the investigating authority to do their job and investigate, to take the complaint seriously, to establish the facts of the matter.
With this in mind and despite the clear issues surrounding Warsi and the MCB it can only be to the better of the Conservative Party to investigate the extent of racism in its ranks.
Where there are instances where members have been islamophobic or victims of islamophobia the party must take the appropriate disciplinary action, if it isn’t already.
Whether or not it’s a full blown inquiry or taking extra measures is irrelevant the point is that if people, even the MCB, are claiming victimhood the Tory Party has an obligation to check as to whether there is any truth to the allegations.