It’s utterly astonishing, absurd and callous how just over a week on from one of the most ghastly acts of terrorism seen this year, the Conservative Party quietly reinstated 15 councillors who were initially suspended for Islamophobic rhetoric.
You would have thought that in the weeks following the Christchurch atrocity, where 50 Muslims were killed on their holy day in the sanctuary of their place of worship, that Western nations would toughen their stance on Islamophobic activity. Yet in a week where hate crimes against Muslims have increased by 593%, the Conservative Party have chosen to accept back into the folds of their party the likes of candidates who branded Asians as ”dogs” or Saudi Arabians as “sand peasants.”
How many times have we heard Sajid Javid say “there can’t be Islamophobia in the Tory Party if the Home Secretary is a Muslim?” Well, that’s simply not the case as antisemitism was still prevalent in the Labour Party when Jewish Ed Milliband was its leader.
Just remember this was the party who branded Labour as “institutionally racist,” yet hypocritically when they were accused of being “institutionally Islamophobic,” the Deputy Chairman of the Conservatives, James Cleverly “deeply” denied that this was the case.
However, I feel that this example was only the latest of many anti-Muslim scourges by the Conservatives. It’s a problem that has historically permeated through the Tories from both the front line politicians and from behind the scenes as well. The Tories time and time again decide to smear this cancerous issue with gold paint, not realising that one day it will implode and it will be left with citizens, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to be cleaning up the mess.
I feel I can’t be a bystander for too much longer. It’s time to call out the Tories for being institutionally Islamophobic.
In my opinion, there is a difference between being Islamophobic and institutionally Islamophobic. For something to be branded as the latter, three signs must be identified to be actively occurring. Firstly Islamophobia should exist openly on a large scale. Secondly, toxicity against Islam must also exist on a smaller level, for example, the use of vile words against Muslims or the poor treatment of Muslims in that organisation must be prevalent. Finally, Islamophobia is truly institutionalised when it’s covered up and constantly avoided by party leadership. We will dissect events which portray all three of these elements within this article.
Let’s start with the Zac Goldsmith’s “disgusting” campaigning strategies during the 2016 Mayoral Elections. He accused Sadiq Khan of being a “closet extremist” and someone who would “increase our risks of suffering terrorism.” This dog-whistling nature of hate was quickly forgotten about after Sadiq gained a landslide victory.
Yet however momentous Sadiq’s victory was, it certainly did not grant Zac a pardon for his hate-fledgling campaign which also saw the circulation of posters to the Hindu community claiming that Sadiq would raise the Jewellery Tax. This again was an attempt to stir religious divides to detract votes from the Muslim Mayor. What was more astonishing was the Prime Minister, David Cameron and other Cabinet Ministers such as Michael Fallon chose to defend Goldsmith rather than call him out, a sign of institutional Islamophobia.
Yet whilst the Mayoral elections were a macro-cosmic highlight of Tory Islamophobia, let’s look at some events on a micro-cosmic level. Baroness Sayeda Warsi has continuously called out the likes of Michael Gove who “radicalised” David Cameron’s perception of Islam leading to him calling Muslim women “traditionally submissive.” Furthermore, Warsi also complained about the fact that she was told off for “writing too many notes” at Cabinet meetings. This was yet another attempt by some Tory MPs to unleash anti-Islamic sentiments in a subtle way, for when you don’t like something, you will find any way possible to talk ill about it.
More recently we find Boris Johnson comparing Muslim women who wear the Niqab to “letterboxes.” You would never find the Tories speaking ill against any other religious symbol, however, we find again that this issue was swept under the carpet as some sort of retribution towards Muslims for Islamist terrorism. After this incident and the incident this week, the Tories are still refusing to agree on a definition for Islamophobia within their party.
The problem with this is that anti-Muslim bigotry then becomes normalised. It is absorbed by people and it becomes acceptable to criticise Muslims in a way that no other member of any other religion is branded. The problem from the top permeates through to people on a grassroots level, causing the Islamophobic treacle to seep down the echelons of the party. This week we see the Guardian has found Tory members who have called Muslim “cavemen” and “sex offenders.”
Yet what exacerbates the normality of Islamophobia is the Tories trying to cover it up. How many times have we heard Sajid Javid say “there can’t be Islamophobia in the Tory Party if the Home Secretary is a Muslim?” Well, that’s simply not the case. Antisemitism was still prevalent in the Labour Party when Jewish Ed Milliband was its leader. The deliberate and devious attempt to cover up this vice further normalises the spread of Islamophobic rhetoric. This furthers the confirmation bias against Muslims that some Tory members might harbour and this in itself furthers the institutional levels of racism.
Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, epitomised the characteristics of strong and influential leadership over the last week when she banned all military-style semi-automatic weapons in response to a terrible atrocity. In a similar manner, we have now evidently seen the need for the Tories to step up their game and sort out the anti-Muslim rhetoric which is being tolerated and propagated in their party. Otherwise, the “Trojan Horse” may open sooner than we think and the consequences of Islamophobia being normalised and institutionalised will hurt the whole country. It’s time the Tories take action to rid this vile form of hate from the echelons of their party.