Labour pleads with Conservatives: tackle Islamophobia

Opposition said Muslims 'remained consistently, and especially, vulnerable to religiously motivated hate crimes'

epa07443310 People carry banners and shout slogans during a protest against terrorist attacks on mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, outside the Parliament building in Rabat, Morocco, 16 March 2019. On 15 March 2019, 49 people were killed by a gunman, believed to be Brenton Harrison Tarrant, and 20 more injured and in critical condition during the terrorist attacks against two mosques in New Zealand during the Friday prayers. Tarrant was charged by one murder charge with more to follow as the investigation continues. Arabic banners read 'No to Islamophobia under any name'.  EPA/JALAL MORCHIDI

Britain’s opposition Labour party has called on the ruling Conservatives to “get serious” about tackling Islamophobia.

Despite seeing fewer hate crimes recorded against Muslims in 2020-2021, nearly half of all religious hate crimes last year targeted them.

For the first time, the Government’s Prevent scheme to target suspected extremism had more far-right cases than Islam-based referrals.

Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds and Manchester Gorton MP Afzal Khan wrote to the Tory chairman, Oliver Dowden, demanding action.

In the letter, they said Muslims “remained consistently, and especially, vulnerable to religiously motivated hate crimes — a trend that shows no signs of abating under the Conservative Government".

They said the Conservative Party refused to use the term Islamophobia, instead referring to “anti-Muslim hatred”, which they said – coupled with a refusal to adopt the definition of Islamophobia agreed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims – was “undermining (the party's) credibility over tackling this problem".

A review led by Professor Swaran Singh found earlier this year that “anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem” within the Conservative Party.

But the investigation did not find evidence of a party which “systematically discriminated against any particular group".

In May, then party chairwoman Amanda Milling said the party accepted all the recommendations set out by the Singh report.

She said: “We held this investigation to address these allegations to make sure that any instances of discrimination are isolated and to look at how we can improve and strengthen our complaints process.

“The Conservative Party will continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination of any kind and take immediate action to improve our handling of complaints."

Labour said Home Office statistics showed the number of recorded hate crimes against Muslims had decreased by 12.5 per cent between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, from 3,089 incidents to 2,703.

In 2019-2020, offences against Muslims made up 50 per cent of all recorded religious hate crimes, compared to 45 per cent in 2020/21.

Speaking before a visit to Cambridge Central Mosque to mark Islamophobia Awareness Month, Ms Dodds said: “It's about time the Conservatives got serious about tackling Islamophobia in our society and in their own ranks.

“They can't do that if they won't even name it.”

“The Tories have dragged their feet on this issue for far too long. The theme for this Islamophobia Awareness Month is 'time for change' — that change must start at the top of this Conservative Government,” she said.

Updated: November 20th 2021, 4:34 AM