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London mayor asks PM May to use Islamophobia definition

Sadiq Khan sends letter to Theresa May urging her to reassure Muslims after New Zealand terror attack

Ahmet Gürhan Kartal   | 24.03.2019
London mayor asks PM May to use Islamophobia definition

LONDON

Decrying the mixed messages of the ruling Tories, London Mayor Sadiq Khan is urging Prime Minister Theresa May to adopt a new definition of Islamophobia.

In a letter to May, Khan said that he has been repeatedly subjected to anti-Muslim abuse from Tory members and supporters, and called on her to order her Conservative Party to deal with the issue, according to reports by local media on Sunday, including The Guardian.

The new definition, already been adopted by the opposition Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, says: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

Khan wrote: “Reassuring British Muslims about their safety in the aftermath of Christchurch [attack] is not just about policing and security.

“It also requires us to relentlessly root out the Islamophobia and anti-Muslim abuse that has crept into the mainstream of our society and political debate.

“It is vital that our political parties lead from the front in this effort and set the strongest possible example to society.”

He added: “The Conservative party in particular needs to do much more to send the clear message that Islamophobia is totally unacceptable, as unfortunately that has not always been the case over recent years.”


'More important than party politics'

Khan’s letter came after Islamophobic abuses rose almost sixfold in the U.K. following the terror attacks earlier this month on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 50 Muslims and left about as many injured, several critically.

“I myself have repeatedly been subject to Islamophobic abuse from Conservative members and supporters,” wrote Khan. “I have lost track of the number of Conservative councillors and members that have been suspended or faced legal action as a result of making Islamophobic comments towards or about me.”

Khan told how in 2017 Shaun Bailey, the Conservatives’ London mayoral candidate the following year, retweeted an article that referred to Khan as “the mad mullah of Londonistan.”

“But this is not about me,” Khan said.

“I am deeply concerned about the message these incidents send to our wider society. This is not about party politics – it is far more important than that.

“You will know that I have rigorously called out racism wherever I have seen it – including on antisemitism within the Labour party.

“Adopting the all-party parliamentary group definition of Islamophobia will send the strongest possible signal that there is no place for Islamophobia or anti-Muslim sentiment in the Conservative party or anywhere else in our politics or wider society.”

Islamophobic incidents have risen significantly due to a number of factors, such as Brexit and the proliferation of far-right groups spreading misconceptions about immigration and faith.

The Muslim Council of Britain, the U.K.’s largest Muslim body, has many times urged the Conservative Party leadership to tackle the issue of Islamophobia within the party and investigate Tories accused of Islamophobia.

Islamophobic comments by Tory party members and councillors have been found online, with some calling for the bombing of mosques, and others making racist comments about Khan and Tory Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Last year former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson compared women who wear Islamic garb to “bank robbers and letter boxes.” His comments triggered a national outcry, but an internal Conservative investigation cleared him of wrongdoing.

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