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More than 100 UK mosques demand watchdog probe Conservative Party for Islamophobia

Mosques across UK sign letter reprimanding rights commission for 'dereliction of responsibilities' towards British Muslims
Conservative Party has previously faced allegations of Islamophobia (AFP)

More than 100  mosques in the UK as well as a number of Islamic organisations have signed a letter criticising the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for failing to carry out its role and investigate allegations of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party. 

The letter calls for the EHRC to review its position and demands an investigation into the allegations of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party, while highlighting numerous cases of Conservative politicians expressing Islamophobic views.

The letter also charges that the EHRC, an independent body responsible for the enforcement of equality laws in England, has failed to carry out its responsibilities.

“It is unacceptable for an independent statutory body whose responsibility is to encourage equality and diversity, eliminate unlawful discrimination, to opt out from investigating allegation,” the letter says.

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“For the EHRC to deny investigating Islamophobia within the Conservative Party, with the general rising rate of Islamophobia is a dereliction of responsibilities that is exposing an already vulnerability British Muslim community to greater discrimination.”

Some of the mosques that signed the letter include Finsbury Park Mosque, Glasgow Park Mosque and Waltham Forest Council of mosques. 

The letter says the allegations against the Conservative Party are "extremely serious", stressing that the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) submitted 300 allegations of Islamophobia by Conservative Party members in March, and has repeatedly renewed calls for the commission to examine Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.

The EHRC opened an investigation into Labour antisemitism in May 2019, while deciding not to investigate the Conservative Party after it announced an independent inquiry.  

The letter also highlights concerns over some of the EHRC’s board members’ external posts, which it says raise conflict of interest issues, particularly considering recent religious hate crimes targeting Muslims. 

“The Islamophobia allegations are in the backdrop of 47% of all religious hate crime in 2018/19 being targeted against Muslims,” the letter states. 

Muslim campaigners also delivered a formal request to the UK watchdog last December, requesting an investigation into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.

Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND), an organisation that promotes Muslim involvement in politics and society, has criticised a lack of action regarding anti-Muslim attitudes in the party, especially as a recent poll indicated that 62 percent of Conservative voters think that Islam "threatens the British way of life".

Last year, the Conservative Party rejected a cross-party definition of Islamophobia backed by the MCB, arguing that it would stifle freedom of expression and impede counter-terrorism efforts. 

Other British political parties, including Labour and the Scottish National Party, have adopted the cross-party definition, which says that Islamophobia is "rooted in racism and targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness".