London, November 15
More than a third of British Muslim members of the Labour Party claim to have witnessed Islamophobia within the UK’s Opposition party ranks, according to a new report on Sunday.
An investigation by the Labour Muslim Network reported by ‘ITV News’ found that 44 per cent do not believe the party takes Islamophobia seriously and 48 per cent have lost confidence in the party’s complaint structures. Around 59 per cent of Muslims surveyed said they did not feel well represented by the party.
Ali Milani, an Iranian-origin Labour Party member who stood against UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat in the 2019 general election, claims a fellow party member told him that Muslims could not be MPs because of “their propensity to violence” and asked if he was a terrorist, The Independent newspaper quoted the ITV news report as saying.
“It hurts to feel like I experienced that sort of abuse from a party member and it not only took a year for them to get back to me, but the complaint was lost. It’s just hurtful,” said Milani.
Afzal Khan, the Pakistani-origin parliamentary chair of the Labour Muslim Network and MP for Manchester Gorton, said that Islamophobia within the party had gone “unnoticed” and “deserved immediate attention”.
“Whilst the Labour Party has enjoyed the overwhelming support of the Muslim community for decades, we cannot take their support for granted. The Labour Party must commit to a zero tolerance of Islamophobia and rebuild confidence with its Muslim members,” said Khan.
Bangladeshi-origin Labour MP Apsana Begum said that she had faced similar issues and claimed the party “has been in denial” about the problem.
She told ITV News: “It’s quite regular to be asked questions and to constantly be asked to reaffirm my commitment towards British society as if in some way my identity and politics are not compatible”.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said the report was shocking and urged the party to act immediately.
A spokesperson said: “Islamophobia is prevalent across British society but when it is within political parties who are our representatives and who decide on policy, it is all the more dangerous”.
“That is why this new report is deeply concerning. It shows shocking levels of Islamophobia within the Labour Party, and a distrust amongst Muslim members of the leadership’s willingness to take this type of racism seriously.”
Responding to the report, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “We thank Labour Muslim Network for this important report, as well as their work to ensure our Muslim members are represented, included and heard. Islamophobia has no place in our party or society and we are committed to rooting it out”.
“We look forward to working with LMN to implement their recommendations and will be meeting with them to discuss the next steps in tackling the scourge of Islamophobia.” — PTI