- A new poll of Conservative Party members finds widespread anti-Muslim feeling in the party.
- Four out of ten members would not want a Muslim person as prime minister with a similar number saying there should be limits placed on Muslim people entering the country.
- The poll comes after both candidates for Conservative party leadership committed to holding an inquiry into the problem in the party.
- Boris Johnson, who is the favourite to become party leader and prime minister, has been accused of previously making Islamophobic comments.
LONDON – Four out of ten Conservative Party members want limits placed on the number of Muslim people entering the United Kingdom, according to a new poll which finds widespread Islamophobia in the party.
The YouGov poll of Conservative Party members, for the anti-racist campaign group Hope Not Hate, found that 40% of members wanted limits on the number of people of the Islamic faith entering the country, as opposed to just 5% who want to see fewer Christians or Jewish people.
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.”
Both of the candidates for the Conservative Party leadership have committed to holding an inquiry into Islamophobia in the party if they become prime minister.
However, today’s poll suggests that most Conservative Party members do not believe such an inquiry is necessary, with 79% saying they do not believe there is a problem with Islamophobia in the party.
Hope Not Hate today wrote an open letter to both Boris Johnson and his rival for the Conservative leadership, Jeremy Hunt, calling on them to tackle the issue.
“No mainstream political party should accept racism and racists within its ranks,” said Matthew McGregor, the group’s campaigns director.
“The Conservatives have paid lip service by saying they have zero tolerance to Islamophobia and anti-Muslim prejudice, but this new poll confirms they face a real crisis. From the grassroots to the great offices of state, Conservative members buy into racist myths.
“After months of revelations that Conservative activists and councillors have been belatedly suspended or expelled over Islamophobic or racist incidents, the fact that the overwhelming majority of members think there isn’t an issue is chilling.
“The first step to challenge this crisis should be a show of leadership from Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson. They most both confront the racism of some party members and the complacency of others, state clearly that they accept there is a problem, and confirm their commitment at last week’s TV debate to a full and independent investigation.”
The findings come after Johnson, who is the favourite to replace Theresa May as Conservative party leader and prime minister, came under pressure to explain his past comments about Muslim people.
Johnson has previously likened Muslim women who wear the burqa to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers.”
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?”
Labour accuses media of double standards on racism
Following the release of the poll, Labour figures expressed surprise at how little coverage the findings had received in most major British media outlets compared to more widespread reporting of the issue of anti-Semitism within the Labour party.
“These figures are so appalling you’d think it would be all over the news,” a senior Labour source told Business Insider.
“No wonder the Tories are in denial about the extent of racism in their party, they’re getting a free pass from most of the UK media who are failing to hold them to account.”
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