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Tory MP says he shared Islamophobic news article in 'error'

Bob Blackman was previously forced to apologise after MEE revealed he had shared a platform with a controversial anti-Muslim Hindu nationalist
The social media post shared an image of eight of the 13 men convicted in Bristol in 2014 (Police handout)

A Conservative MP has been accused of giving a platform to Islamophobia by sharing a story from an anti-Muslim website on his social media page, it has been reported.

Bob Blackman, who was first elected as the MP for Harrow East in 2010, reportedly shared a story on his Facebook page titles "Muslim Somali sex gang say raping white British children ‘part of their culture’", the Times reported.

The post, which was shared by Blackman on Sunday evening and removed on Monday, originated from anti-Muslim website Hardcore News USA. Similar posts found on far-right British sites cited a case where 13 men, who are of Somali heritage, were convicted of rape or abuse of teenage girls in Bristol in 2014.

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Blackman has apologised for what he described as his "error", but he has previously been accused of condoning Islamophobia after Middle East Eye revealed that the London MP and senior members of the government shared a platform with a Hindu nationalist who has called for the UN to control the birth rate of Muslims, praised the slaughter of Rohingya in Burma and supported claims that one million children in the UK have been raped by Muslims.

Blackman also retweeted a message on Twitter by Tommy Robinson, the far-right leader. Blackman later apologised for an "error" over the tweet, and said he did not accept Ghosh or Robinson’s views.

Blackman’s latest sharing on social media, which appears to be a post based on a Daily Mail newspaper report from 2014, has drawn fierce reaction from Muslim groups, and calls for the MP to face disciplinary action from the Conservative Party.

MEE reported earlier this month that while up to 13 percent of Blackman's constituency is Muslim, the MP appears never to have visited a mosque in the local area, amid claims he is "prejudiced against Muslims".

'Giving Islamphobia a free pass'

A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain said: "Mr Blackman has now shown a consistent record of giving a platform to bigots, but he still faces no censure by the Conservative Party.

"He retweeted material from far-right activist Tommy Robinson, hosted an anti-Muslim bigot in Parliament and now we see he chooses to share anti-Muslim material from a site full of Islamophobia. 

"If the Conservative Party claims to be a party for all, it cannot continue to tolerate and even reward such behaviour. It cannot give Islamophobia a free pass."

In a statement given to The Times, Blackman said the story appeared on his Facebook feed and he shared it because "the subject matter is very troubling and I have had a lot of engagement on it via social media and email recently because I raised the issue of child sex abuse and grooming in business questions in parliament".

He said: "I deleted the link as I saw that the headline to the article was phrased inappropriately.

"I can confirm that I have never visited the website in question and am not part of any group related to it. I sincerely regret any upset caused to the Muslim Council of Britain or the wider community for my error."

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