British Conservative Party suspends members for anti-Muslim comments

Britain's governing party accused of doing too little to combat Islamophobia in its ranks

Britain's Minister without Portfolio and Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis arrives at 10 Downing Street for the weekly cabinet meeting in London on March 19, 2019.  / AFP / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS
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Britain’s governing Conservative Party has been forced to suspend up to 25 activists found to have posted racist comments on Facebook. This is in addition to the 40 members already suspended from previous investigations into Islamphobia.

An inquiry into the growing anti-Muslim problem in the Tory Party by organisers of the @MatesJacob Twitter account showed comments on killing Muslims, by people claiming to be Conservative party members.

“I was going through a few magazines the other day down at the local Mosque. I was really enjoying myself. Then the rifle jammed,” said one activist on the Jacob-Rees Mogg Supporters Group Facebook page, named after but not affiliated with the backbencher member of parliament.

One activist wrote “No Muslim will get my vote”, while another referenced British Prime Minister Theresa May’s use of the word "simples" in a recent parliamentary speech: “tow them back out to sea, sink the boat. Simples”.

Twenty-five members were found to have made racist comments on the Facebook group page, but the Tory Party have not specified how many of them have been suspended. The number could well be below the 25 outed.

Forty self-identifying party members in total have been banned on the back of screenshots posted by the @MatesJacob Twitter account investigating institutional racism in the Conservative Party.

Former Tory party chair Sayeeda Warsi, Britain’s first Muslim woman cabinet minister, criticised her party for failing to handle complaints in an open and transparent process.

"The system of complaints is opaque and mired in bureaucracy. There is no clarity on which complaint has been considered, what action was taken and no transparency of eventual outcome,” Ms Warsi told news and entertainment website Buzzfeed.

“This is what makes this issue of Islamophobia institutional – the party as an organisation is failing those that raise concerns.”

Ms Warsi is a vocal critic of her successor Brandon Lewis and has been extensively campaigning for senior politicians in the Conservative Party to take Islamophobia seriously.

“Party members who have been found to have made inappropriate comments have been suspended pending further investigation.”

A report by anti-fascist organisation Hope Not Hate found Conservative voters are more likely to have anti-Muslim views compared to voters from other British political parties.

“We were aware of this matter, and action has been taken,” a Conservative Party spokesperson said.