- Boris Johnson drops his pledge to hold an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party.
- The frontrunner to replace Theresa May had committed to an inquiry earlier this month.
- However, he told the Conservative Home website that he would only launch a “general investigation” into prejudice instead.
- The Labour Party said Johnson was “not remotely fit to be Prime Minister and the prospect of it will strike fear into the hearts of many British Muslims.”
- The U-turn follows an opinion poll this week which found widespread anti-Muslim sentiment among Conservative party members.
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LONDON – Boris Johnson has dropped his commitment to holding an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party, saying he is in favour of conducting a “general investigation” into all forms of prejudice instead.
The frontrunner to replace Theresa May as prime minister agreed earlier this month to hold an inquiry into anti-Muslim prejudice in the Conservative party if he becomes leader.
Asked by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid in the BBC leadership debate: “shall we have an external investigation in the Conservative party into Islamophobia?” Johnson and his rival candidates all agreed.
'Do you all agree guys; shall we have an external investigation in the Conservative Party into Islamophobia?'
— ITV News (@itvnews) June 18, 2019
However, Johnson has now backtracked, telling the Conservative Home website that he would not now favour an investigation into the specific problem of Islamophobia.
“Well, I took it up with Saj afterwards and he said that actually, if I understand it correctly, what we’ve committed to is a general investigation into all types of prejudice and discrimination, including antisemitism,” Johnson said.
A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain said it expected “nothing less that a full and independent inquiry into Islamophobia” and said Johnson’s U-turn “demonstrates further unwillingness to deal with bigotry seriously.”
They told Business Insider: “We are disappointed to see that Mr Johnson has apparently reneged on his promise for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.
“It has become all too apparent that the Conservatives have a problem with Islamophobia, as evidenced this week with a damning poll revealing how rank-and-file Conservative party members hold conspiratorial views on Muslims.
“This includes the absurd belief that parts of the UK are governed under Sharia law and preference not to have a Muslim Prime Minister.”
Naz Shah, Labour’s Shadow Equalities Minister, told Business Insider that Johnson was “not remotely fit to be Prime Minister and the prospect of it will strike fear into the hearts of many British Muslims.”
She added: “Boris Johnson has broken his promise in less than two weeks.
“Anything short of a full, independent inquiry into Islamophobia and racism in the Conservative Party will be an insult to Muslim communities, and will compound the hurt and anguish that is already being felt.
“Johnson described black people as ‘piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles’, approved an article which argued that black people have lower IQs, and last year compared Muslim women to letterboxes and bank robbers. He has also now appointed to his team one of the chief architects of the Conservatives’ racist campaign against Sadiq Khan.”
An opinion poll released earlier this week found evidence of widespread prejudice towards Muslims, among Conservative party members.
The YouGov poll, commissioned by anti-racism campaigners Hope Not Hate, found that 40% of members wanted limits on the number of people of the Islamic faith entering the country.
The poll also found that:
- 43% of Conservative Party members “would prefer to not have the country led by a Muslim.”
- 45% believe that “there are areas in Britain in which non-Muslims are not able to enter.”
- 67% believe that “there are areas in Britain that operate under Sharia law.”
- 39% believe that “Islamist terrorists reflect a widespread hostility to Britain amongst the Muslim community.”
Johnson has previously been accused of holding anti-Muslim views, following an article he wrote last year in which he compared Muslim women who wear the burqa to “letterboxes.”
He has also previously claimed that it is only “natural” for the public to be scared of Islam.
“To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia – fear of Islam – seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke,” he wrote in 2005.
“Judged purely on its scripture – to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques – it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers.”
- Read more: Boris Johnson wrote that ‘Islam is the problem’ and defended Islamophobia as a ‘natural reaction’
In the wake of the London bombings, he also questioned the loyalty of British Muslims and insisted that the country must accept that “Islam is the problem.”
“It will take a huge effort of courage and skill to win round the many thousands of British Muslims who are in a similar state of alienation, and to make them see that their faith must be compatible with British values and with loyalty to Britain,” he wrote.
“That means disposing of the first taboo, and accepting that the problem is Islam. Islam is the problem.”
He added: “What is going on in these mosques and madrasas? When is someone going to get 18th century on Islam’s medieval arse?”