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Human rights watchdog urged to investigate Tory party over Islamophobia claims

The Muslim Council of Britain is calling for action. Credit: PA

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has written to Britain’s equalities watchdog demanding a formal inquiry into accusations of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

In a letter to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the MCB said there was an “institutional problem” with the Party where racism against Muslims was not being dealt with.

The MCB, which is the UK’s largest and most diverse national Muslim umbrella organisation with over 500 members including mosques, schools, charitable associations and professional networks, has outlined more than 100 examples of allegations of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.

Harun Rashid Khan, Secretary General of the MCB, said it was a “sad day” but their repeated attempts at raising concerns about Islamophobia had “fallen on deaf ears.”

“We have taken this step after an unprecedented number of cases have been brought to our attention, suggesting a culture within the Conservative Party where Islamophobia is not only widespread, but institutional,” Khan said.

“We now request the EHRC to look at all the evidence and investigate this matter with great urgency.”

The EHRC said it was considering complaints in line with its “usual process".

Earlier this month ITV News revealed that the EHRC had written to the Conservative Party to request more information following “a number of complaints” they had already received about Islamophobia within the Party.

ITV News understands that the Conservative Party has until June 7 to respond to the EHRC’s requests for further information.

On Tuesday, the EHRC launched a formal inquiry into claims of anti-Semitism within Labour. Credit: PA

The latest development comes on the day the EHRC launched a formal inquiry into claims of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.

It is a rarity that the EHRC takes action against political parties and last did so in 2010, when it ordered the British National Party (BNP) to change its rules after it had an all-white member policy.

The EHRC said the investigation into the Labour Party would seek to determine whether “unlawful acts have been committed by the Party and/or its employees and/or its agents” and if the party has “responded to complaints of unlawful acts in a lawful, efficient and effective manner”.

Labour said it would “cooperate fully” with the investigation and rejected “any suggestion that the party does not handle anti-Semitism complaints fairly and robustly”.

A party spokesperson said: “Labour is fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and is implacably opposed to anti-Semitism in any form.

“We reject any suggestion that the Party does not handle anti-Semitism complaints fairly and robustly, or that the Party has acted unlawfully, and we will continue to cooperate fully with the EHRC.

“We support the efforts of the EHRC to draw attention to the obligations all political parties have under the Equality Act. But its ability to do so has been undermined by a 70% budget cut since 2010.

“Labour is the party of equality and in government we will strengthen the powers and functions of the commission.

“There has been a deeply worrying rise in anti-Semitism in the UK and across Europe. We are taking action to root it out of our party by strengthening our rules and procedures.

“But the issue can only be properly dealt with by all political parties working together to protect the interests of the Jewish community and to combat racism in politics, the media and in society more broadly.

“That includes the need for the Conservatives and other parties taking action to deal with racism in their own ranks.”

The Conservative Party has been contacted for a response.