Ruling party councillors reinstated after anti-Muslim investigations

The party has been criticised for not taking a tougher approach against Islamophobia

Britain's Minister without Portfolio and Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis arrives in Downing Street in London on March 14, 2019, ahead of a further Brexit vote. British MPs will vote today on whether to ask the European Union for an extension to the March 29 Brexit deadline, with the whole process mired in chaos.
 / AFP / Niklas HALLE'N

Britain’s ruling Conservative party has quietly reinstated the membership of 15 councillors who were suspended for posting racist and anti-Muslim content online, an investigation by a British newspaper has found.

The material that led to the suspensions included elected representatives describing Saudis as “sand peasants” and shared material that compared Asian people to dogs.

Those now brought back into the fold included a councillor who was suspended after retweeting a post in support of far-right extremist Tommy Robinson and one who reposted an article about France slashing benefits to “Muslim parasites” on Facebook, the Guardian found.

Despite dozens of Tory members being suspended over anti-Muslim comments, the newspaper found evidence of five more cases of councillors that included referring to Muslims as “cavemen” and claiming most Muslims are sex offenders.

Former Tory party chair and first Muslim woman cabinet minister, Sayeeda Warsi, said that the move to reinstate the councillors was “revolving door racism”.

“Another bunch of bigots found out,” she wrote on Twitter.

The party announced last week that 25 party members had been suspended over anti-Islamic comments. Another 40 were suspended following previous investigations into Islamophobia.

Some were identified by an anonymous Twitter user who said they was “investigating institutional racism, islamophobia and cover-ups in the Conservative Party”. It said there were “many more to come”.

Senior Conservative politicians and supporters have criticised the party for failing to adequately stand up to racism, particularly towards Muslims.

Mohammed Amin, chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum, called on the party to launch a more transparent disciplinary process.

Hope Not Hate, an anti-racism campaign group, accused Brandon Lewis, chairman of the Tory party, of misleading the public about a number of Islamophobia complaints made by people within the party.

Anti-Muslim sentiment has been on the rise throughout the UK with incidents increasing by 593 per cent in the UK in the week after the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 50 people, according to independent watchdog Tell Mama.

Director, Iman Atta said the findings showed that “some people see Muslims as fair game for hate and it is now clear that we have an ongoing and persistent ideology of hate that is generating a focus on Muslims.”

Trade Secretary Liam Fox defended his party’s record in tackling Islamophobia within its ranks.

“The issue is taken very seriously,” he told the BBC. “There’s no place for racism of any sort in the Conservative Party.”