The new British prime minister must treat “systemic” Islamophobia in the ruling Conservative Party seriously, according to the head of the UK’s leading Muslim organization.
As the party searches for outgoing Premier Boris Johnson’s successor, whoever wins “must represent everybody and they have to make sure that they do that fairly,” said Zara Mohammed, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain.
“We’d like to see these new candidates actually take this issue seriously, because it is quite deep-seated,” she said in an exclusive interview published by the British newspaper Metro on Thursday.
“We found over 300 cases, as well as senior members of the party themselves complaining about the problem.”
She emphasized the need for “a commitment to zero tolerance on Islamophobia – a party pledge that there will be action where there are Islamophobic comments, whether that is dismissal, whether that is disciplinary.”
The party leadership must make clear that such behavior is “totally unacceptable,” she added.
Mohammed did not discuss any one of the five candidates left in the race for the premiership, but did call out Johnson for his “alarming radio silence” on the issue and comments comparing women who wear the burqa to “letterboxes and bank robbers.”
“We’ve yet to see any apology on that. I think the impact that had on Muslim women was real,” she said.
“We did see a spike in hate crime, particularly against Muslim women who did wear the burqa or the veil after that, and even a confidence in racists and bigots feeling that they were entitled to say such things or do things like that.”