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Islamophobia ‘spouted by senior politicians with impunity,’ campaigners warn

ISLAMOPHOBIA is being “spouted by senior politicians with impunity,” campaigners warned today as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak continues to insist it is not an issue for the Conservative Party.

Mr Sunak’s denial comes after Lee Anderson MP, former deputy chairman of the party, had the Tory whip withdrawn last week after making Islamophobic comments on GB News, claiming that “Islamists” had control of London and the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan.

Despite removing the whip from Mr Anderson on Saturday, the Prime Minister did not address the remarks until today.

Speaking to the BBC during a visit to North Yorkshire, the PM admitted Mr Anderson’s choice of words were “wrong,” though later, when pressed by reporters, he refused to answer whether the comments were Islamophobic.

Following Mr Anderson’s remarks, the Prime Minister warned of an “explosion in prejudice and anti-semitism,” but failed to address anti-Muslim prejudice in Saturday’s statement on Mr Anderson’s departure.

However, speaking to the BBC today, Mr Sunak said it was “not a fair characterisation at all” to say he has condemned anti-semitism while overlooking Islamophobia in his own party.

When asked if the Conservative Party has an Islamophobia problem, Mr Sunak replied: “No, of course it doesn’t.”

He also refused to criticise former home secretary Suella Braverman, who recently claimed in a Daily Telegraph article that “the Islamists, the extremists and the anti-semites are in charge now.”

The Prime Minister said: “There is a broader point that some of the scenes that we have been witnessing on our streets in recent times are unacceptable.”

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf said that Ms Braverman’s article “highlights that the Conservatives have got a real problem with Islamophobia,” and has demanded that the Prime Minister instigate an independent, external review of the issue.

Mr Yousaf said Mr Anderson’s comments are “a further demonstration of the fact that Islamophobia is normalised” and called for him to be expelled.

“The fact that an MP thinks it is acceptable to make such Islamophobic comments against anybody, let alone the Mayor of London, I think is despicable,” he said.

Conservative peer Baroness Warsi has spoken of her attempts to highlight Islamophobia within the party for years.

She said Mr Anderson “is the tip of the iceberg,” adding that Mr Sunak “knows that this is an issue within our party.”

Meanwhile, Mr Anderson has doubled down on his remarks.

The Ashfield MP told GB News today: “When you are right you should never apologise because to do so would be a sign of weakness.”

He continued to criticise Mr Khan, saying that he was “incredibly frustrated about his abject failures.”

Speaking in the Commons, Labour MP for Brent Central Dawn Butler said that she had to seek extra police support at the weekend “due to the far-right abuse that I have suffered, inspired and unleashed in part by the conspiracy theory — the racist, Islamophobic, anti-Muslim hate — peddled by members for Ashfield [Mr Anderson], Fareham [Ms Braverman] and South West Norfolk [Liz Truss].”

Ms Butler called for Ms Braverman and Ms Truss to have the whip removed.

Stand up to Racism co-convener Sabby Dhalu said: “It’s wholly inappropriate for Rishi Sunak to argue that the Tories don’t have an Islamophobia problem.

“The problem with inflammatory statements about Islamism taking control is that this sort of hatred from politicians, as night follows day, leads to hatred on the streets.

“It’s likely to further exacerbate Islamophobic attacks on the ground."

Ms Dhalu warned that the Tories' normalisation of such rhetoric could “lead to another wave of fascist mobilisations around the country,” with them “using that racism and Islamophobia from the Conservative Party to mobilise and build support.”

Anti-fascist campaign group Hope not hate CEO Nick Lowles said that Mr Sunak is “is in denial about the scale of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.”

He said: “This is in no way a new problem — [we] highlighted this issue under Boris Johnson’s leadership — but at the moment, blatant Islamophobia is being spouted by senior politicians, with impunity.”

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