Tuesday, May 17

UK. Accusations of Islamophobia: an investigation launched within Boris Johnson’s party

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered an investigation after a member of his Conservative party claimed she was sacked from the government during a reshuffle two years ago because of her Muslim faith. Nusrat Ghani, 49, told the weekly Sunday Times that a party executive had explained to him in February 2020 that “his origins and his faith” had been decisive in his ouster, reviving suspicions of Islamophobia within the majority.

An already difficult time for Boris Johnson

The accusations come at an already difficult time for Boris Johnson’s political formation, which finds itself in an ejection seat after the Downing Street holiday scandal in full confinement. The conclusions of an ongoing internal investigation into this subject are expected in the coming days, and promise to be decisive for the political future of Boris Johnson. “The Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Office,” a government body, “to carry out an inquiry into the accusations made by MP Nusrat Ghani,” a Downing Street spokesman said in a statement on Monday.

The Prime Minister called for “the facts about what happened”, the spokesman continued, saying that “as he said at the time, the Prime Minister takes these accusations very seriously “. When these accusations were first made, Boris Johnson recommended that Nusrat Ghani formally file a complaint with party authorities, which the MP and former Transport Secretary did not do, Downing recalls Street.

My “Muslim faith” was raised as “an issue”

“As I told the Prime Minister yesterday, all I want is for this to be taken seriously and for him to investigate,” Nusrat Ghani reacted, welcoming the Prime Minister’s decision in a statement on Twitter. . The investigation must encompass “everything that was said in Downing Street” and by the party cadre, she added. “I was told that at the Downing Street reshuffle meeting my ‘Muslim faith’ had been raised as ‘an issue’, that a Muslim woman in government was making my colleagues uncomfortable and that it was worried that I was ‘not loyal to the party because I wasn’t doing enough to defend it against allegations of Islamophobia,'” the MP told the Sunday Times.

“It was like a punch in the stomach. I felt humiliated and helpless,” she said, explaining that she did not speak about it publicly at the time because she had been warned that she would be “ostracized by her colleagues” and that her “career and reputation would be destroyed”. A party official, Mark Spencer, identified himself as the official targeted by these accusations, while denying them.

They rekindle old demons among conservatives, long accused of letting Islamophobia flourish in their ranks. In 2021, a report had concluded that “anti-Muslim sentiment remained a problem within the party”, faced with a problem of Islamophobia at the local or individual levels but not “institutional”.

Boris Johnson had himself been implicated for having written in 2018, when he was foreign secretary, an article in which he compared Muslim women wearing the full veil to “letter boxes” or “bank robbers “.


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