By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) – The Muslim Council of Britain has welcomed the Conservative Party decision to launch an inquiry into the former foreign secretary over his recent Islamophobic remarks, a statement said Thursday.
“We welcome the steps the Conservative Party has taken, but the road ahead is long. While the choice of panelists are for the Party to decide, to avoid accusations of a whitewash, the group should include people who are aware of the seriousness of the issue and its effect on society,” said Harun Khan, secretary general of the MCB.
“Any investigation looking into Mr. Johnson’s incendiary comments must take into account the impact on the victims, in this case, Muslim women,” he added.
Boris Johnson is to face an investigation over breaches of the ruling Conservative Party's code of conduct following his Islamophobic remarks about Muslim women wearing the burka or niqab.
The investigation, to be carried out by an independent panel led by a lawyer, will represent the first step in disciplinary action that has been called for by a number of Tory MPs and independent organizations.
In his statement, Khan told how more than 100 Muslim women “who choose to wear the niqab or burka have written to the Conservative Party chair to express how threatened they feel as a result of the prejudice whipped up by Mr. Johnson.”
“This episode once again has exposed the simmering underbelly of Islamophobia that exists in sections of the Conservative Party,” Khan added.
– ‘Enough is enough’
Khan decried rising Islamophobia following Johnson’s comments, citing Conservative MP Nadine Dorries’ “shocking” comments linking “domestic violence to wearing of the niqab.”
“We have seen comments from Conservative supporters including ‘kick all Muslims out of our country’ & accusing [Prime Minister] Theresa May of “Islamic a** licking appeasement',” said Khan.
“There have been widespread calls from prominent Conservatives, activists, faith communities and others for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party,“ he said.
“When we at the Muslim Council of Britain highlighted daily occurrences, we were not only given short shrift by the party chairman, Conservatives and their allies in the media chose to attack the messenger,” Khan said.
“Enough is enough. We need action from the Conservative Party. Nothing less will do.”
Earlier on Thursday, sources within the Tory party told local media that they had received a number of complaints from MPs and the public after Johnson, in a newspaper op-ed, compared Muslim women who wear the niqab to “bank robbers” and “letterboxes”.
Under the Conservative Party’s code of conduct, MPs and individuals who hold a position in public office should “not use their position to bully, abuse, victimise, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others” and should instead “foster and respect tolerance.”
Muslim advocacy groups Tell Mama and the Muslim Council of Britain, among many others, have called on the Conservative Party to urgently address the issue of Islamophobia among its leadership and members following Johnson’s controversial article.