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gal-dem open letter tory islamophobia
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Politicians, activists, and more sign open letter against Tory Islamophobia

gal-dem has published a statement signed by over 200 prominent figures, including Ash Sarkar, Gary Younge, and Shahmir Sanni

An open letter signed by over 200 prominent figures from politics, arts, and the media is calling on the Conservatives to address Islamophobia and racism in the party.

Among signatories are journalists Gary Younge and Ash Sarkar, NUS President Zamzam Ibrahim, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, MP for Tooting, and Vote Leave whistleblower Shahmir Sanni.

“In the lead up to the general election on December 12, it is more crucial than ever that the Conservative Party address the concerns that people have raised regarding repeated incidents of racism and Islamophobia,” says the letter published in gal-dem.

“Many Muslims live in fear. Islamophobic hate crimes have been on the rise, even being levelled against children. Muslims are treated as suspects while going about our daily business, being interrogated at airports or being profiled by suspicious staff members at their places of education or work. This government needs to reassure Muslims that measures have been taken to combat the discrimination against our communities.”

After comments made by Boris Johnson comparing Muslim women who wear the niqab (face veil) to “bank robbers” and “letterboxes”, there was a 375 per cent surge in Islamophobic hate crimes last year, with around two-thirds of those directed at women who wear a niqab.

On ITV breakfast show This Morning, Johnson today addressed the comments he made about Muslim women saying, “I don’t set out to cause offence in what I’ve written”.

“I’m very proud of my record on combatting extremism and indeed in my Muslim ancestry.”

During the leaders’ debate on Newsnight last month, Johnson put forward that his great-grandfather had been a Turkish Muslim.

The open-letter in gal-dem mentions “the institutional disregard for racial and religious minorities in the Conservative Party”, including the suspension of Tory councillors for posting racist and Islamophobic content online, many of whom were quietly reinstated just a few weeks later. Other examples of Islamophobia under Tory government include the profiling of children under the counter-terrorism Prevent strategy, leading to the interrogation of an 8-year-old after a teacher misread his t-shirt as ISIS propaganda.

Last week, comments resurfaced from an article Johnson wrote for The Independent where he referred to young people having “an almost Nigerian interest in money”. 

The open-letter concludes: “The media and the current government appear to almost work hand-in-hand to foster a climate of hostility towards racial and religious minorities whilst absolving themselves of any responsibility for doing so.”

“The institutional disregard for racial and religious minorities in the Conservative Party requires a formal, transparent investigation and real action taken. We, the undersigned, demand this happens immediately without further delay.”

Read the full letter on gal-dem