Muslim organisations call Cameron's comments 'weasel-worded attempt' - demand Islamophobia inquiry into Conservative Party
Prominent Muslim organisations across Britain have rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s apology for associating Sheikh Suliman Gani with the Islamic State (IS) group, calling it a “weasel-worded attempt,” as well as demanding an inquiry into the Conservative Party for Islamophobia.
The Muslim Council of Britain - one of the largest Muslim groups in the UK, consisting of over 500 mosques and schools - has called for an inquiry into the Conservative Party.
"I call for an urgent review of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party," Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said in a statement.
"Just as the Labour Party is rightly conducting an inquiry into antisemitism, it is important for the Conservative Party to reflect upon the extent of Islamophobia in its own ranks. We should have zero tolerance for both antisemitism and Islamophobia."
He also added that Cameron should apologise in parliament.
"I call on both the Prime Minister and the Defence Secretary to make that apology in Parliament as well. Imam Ghani became the innocent casualty of a wider Islamophobic attack on the now-Mayor of London and the Conservative Party needs to apologise for this too."
On Wednesday, Cameron was forced to make a humiliating public apology to the London imam he had labelled as a supporter of the IS group.
He said on Wednesday evening he was sorry for "any misunderstanding" after telling MPs three weeks earlier during Prime Minister’s Questions that Gani, an imam from Tooting in South London, was an “IS supporter”.
A spokesperson for Cameron said "the prime minister was referring to reports that [Gani] supports an Islamic state. The prime minister is clear this does not mean Mr Gani supports the organisation Daesh (IS) and he apologises to him for any misunderstanding."
His remark appeared to be a premeditated statement in response to a planted parliamentary question.
I would like to thank everyone for their support. The matter is still with my lawyers. I have no further comment at the moment.
— Suliman Gani (@sulimangani) May 11, 2016
The Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPACUK), another large Muslim group, demanded a proper apology from Cameron for his comments.
MPACUK spokesperson Reza Nadim said, “David Cameron’s so-called apology is nothing but a weasel-worded attempt to deflect further scrutiny and pressure for his lies about the respected Sheikh Suliman Ghani.
“Cameron says he apologises for ‘any misunderstanding’ but there has been no misunderstanding, rather he has blatantly lied and put the Sheikh’s life at risk.
“Cameron’s comments have further eroded the confidence Muslims have in the Prime Minister for treating the Muslim community with respect – if he wants to make it clear that he is against the dog-whistle politics which marred the Conservative campaign during the London Mayoral election he must issue a full apology for his blatant lies.”
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon also apologised on Wednesday to Gani for saying that he was an IS-supporter. The climbdown by the front-bench government minister comes after an extensive campaign by Middle East Eye columnist Peter Oborne, who was the first to expose the claim.
Fallon said he was sorry for making the "inadvertent error". Cameron first made the accusation against Gani during Prime Minister’s Questions last month.