UK election: Scottish candidate suspended for online Islamophobia

The Conservative candidate Ryan Houghton wrote on an online forum that he believed Muslims were trying to create the continent of ‘Eurabia’

Ryan Houghton, candidate for the Scottish Conservative Party in the Aberdeen North constituency, poses for a photograph in Aberdeen, U.K., on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. In 2017, the Conservatives benefited from a popular leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, whose down-to-earth appeal won over a swath of no-nonsense Scots voters and posed the first real challenge to Scotland's first minister and SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

A candidate in the UK’s upcoming election has been suspended from the Conservative Party over a number of Islamophobic comments he made seven years ago.

The candidate for Aberdeen North in Scotland, Ryan Houghton, was suspended from the Conservative Party after comments he made on an online martial arts forum were brought to light by the Scottish newspaper The National.

As well as writing that some Muslims were trying to create the continent of “Eurabia” the former candidate also appeared to question aspects of the Nazi Holocaust and made remarks about other minority groups.

The Scottish Conservative Party has withdrawn its support for Mr Houghton’s candidacy saying in a statement his comments were “unacceptable”.

In a statement on his personal Twitter feed, the former candidate confirmed he has been suspended from the party while an investigation is carried  out.

Mr Houghton said the comments had been made “in a range of political discussions” when he was 20-years old, adding they had been taken out of context.

The former Conservative Party candidate addressed his anti-Semitic comments in his statement saying he apologised “unreservedly for any hurt now caused by these comments and has been in contact with members of the Jewish community in Aberdeen".

However, his statement did not offer an apology to Aberdeen's Muslim community. Mr Houghton declined to comment to questions posed by The National.

“The comments contained in these blogs are unacceptable and Mr Houghton has been suspended as a member of the Scottish Conservative Party as a result,” the Conservative Party said in a statement.

"The party has also withdrawn its support for his candidacy in Aberdeen North,” it added.

Mr Houghton’s suspension has refocused attention on the UK Conservative Party’s own internal problems with Islamophobia. There have been repeated calls for the party to launch an independent inquiry into allegations of Islamophobia among members. An unknown number of Conservative Party members have been suspended for posting and endorsing Islamophobic material online in recent months.

Islamophobic comments on online forums like 8Chan, which include claims of the replacement of white European populations by Muslim or other minority groups, are considered to have contributed to attacks on Muslim communities.

The gunman responsible for the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, which killed 50 people, posted a 74-page manifesto to the online forum prior to launching his shooting spree saying he wanted “to show the invaders”.