Ministers are “pandering to the far proper” by not calling Lee Anderson’s remarks Islamophobic, a former authorities adviser on the difficulty has instructed Sky Information.

Imam Qari Asim, who was the final individual to carry the put up of unbiased Islamophobia adviser to the federal government, mentioned it had been “disappointing” to see senior Conservatives refusing to outline the Ashfield MP’s feedback as Islamophobic.

And he claimed members of the Muslim group had “misplaced any confidence” within the social gathering to sort out anti-Muslim hatred.

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The interview comes as calls are rising for the prime minister to nominate a brand new adviser amid the fall-out from Mr Anderson’s feedback.

He was suspended from the Conservative Get together final weekend after he refused to apologise for claiming “Islamists” had taken “management” of London and that Labour mayor Sadiq Khan had “given our capital metropolis away to his mates”.

There was huge condemnation of the remarks from ministers, however they – and Rishi Sunak – have repeatedly refused to categorise them as Islamophobic.

Former Tory minister Rehman Chishti instructed Sky Information’ Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge that the choice to classify the feedback must be taken by an unbiased adviser, somewhat than politicians, and criticised the prime minister for failing to nominate one since coming into workplace.

Now the Liberal Democrats have written to the federal government, calling on them to take “a significant first step in the direction of taking the kind of motion the British Muslim group deserves” by appointing somebody to the function.

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In her letter to Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, the Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine mentioned: “The occasions of latest weeks have sadly reiterated how very important it’s that this put up be crammed as a matter of urgency.”

She added: “Non secular hatred in all its kinds have to be stamped out, and the federal government has a essential function to play in facilitating that.”

The SNP has echoed the demand, with MP Hannah Bardell additionally calling for an “unbiased, exterior evaluation into the difficulty of Islamophobia” throughout the Conservative Get together.

“There isn’t a room for Islamophobia or discrimination of any type in our society, however sadly, for a lot too lengthy, attitudes and language like this amongst senior Tory politicians has gone unchallenged,” she added.

Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge
Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge

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Talking to Sky Information on Tuesday, Mr Asim described how he had been employed by Theresa Could within the dying days of her premiership, tasked with offering recommendation on a definition of Islamophobia and the way to sort out it.

His appointment got here concurrently former Labour MP John Mann was taken on to advise on tackling antisemitism, whose work progressed as Boris Johnson took over as prime minister.

“He was given an workplace and sources once I could not even get the phrases of reference for my work,” mentioned Mr Asim.

“I might write to Quantity 10 so many occasions so I may begin the work, however I by no means heard again.”

After lockdown, Mr Asim tried to kickstart the method, however once more got here up towards a brick wall.

“The group had been asking me, many individuals had been asking me about it,” he mentioned. “It was very clear there wasn’t the political will to push ahead.

“I’m not saying the entire Conservative Get together or authorities, however there are particular factions in there that don’t need to recognise the dimensions of anti-Muslim hatred within the nation.”

Prime Minister David Cameron talks to Imam Qari Asim. Pic: PA
Prime Minister David Cameron talks to Imam Qari Asim. Pic: PA

The imam was quickly to find he was out of a job, when in June 2022 the federal government fired him for sharing particulars of a protest over banning a movie concerning the Prophet Mohammed’s daughter, claiming he was making an attempt to stifle free speech – one thing Mr Asim has denied.

“The letter was simply posted on the federal government web site,” he mentioned. “I discovered from the media that I had misplaced my job.

“I could not truly imagine whoever was behind it didn’t have the professionalism and the courtesy to inform me.”

A authorities supply instructed Sky Information the letter had been emailed to him earlier than it was revealed.

However Mr Asim believes he was “made a scapegoat” for the shortage of labor on the difficulty, including: “I used to be employed to discover a definition of Islamophobia. I used to be not there to create a blasphemy legislation by way of the again door or undermine freedom of speech or undermine the work we’ve got performed to sort out extremism.”

Now he believes the federal government wants to rent a brand new adviser and become familiar with the difficulty – and making a definition – as soon as and for all.

Requested about Mr Anderson’s remarks, the imam referred to as them “divisive, offensive, racist and Islamophobic”, including: “It has been very disappointing that it appears when senior politicians discuss it, it has been tactical and cynical.

“Why would the prime minister not have referred to as it out for what it’s?”

Mr Asim added: “Members of my congregation have misplaced any confidence within the authorities in tackling anti-Muslim hatred, particularly when individuals are reluctant to even name it out.

“It goes to point out they do not actually perceive the degrees of anti-Muslim hatred and even that they’re probably pandering to the far proper.”

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The previous adviser celebrated the UK as “a rustic that believes in values of equality, openness and respect for range”, including: “We come collectively to stamp out antisemitism or different types of racial hatred. All Muslims are asking for is similar remedy of anti-Muslim hatred.

“I believe it’s excessive time {that a} Islamophobic definition is achieved and strong and quick motion is taken to hold out that work, and one of many first steps could be to outline anti-Muslim hatred.

“I’m not wedded to a specific time period. What we need to see is the safety of Muslim communities who’re focused by individuals who really feel Muslims are honest sport or know they do not face any penalties for focusing on them.”

A authorities spokesperson mentioned: “It’s unacceptable for anybody to really feel unsafe whereas practising their faith and we take a zero-tolerance strategy to anti-Muslim hatred.

“For the reason that 7 October assaults, we’ve got taken swift motion to handle anti-Muslim hatred, offering an extra £4.9m of protecting safety funding for Muslims for the present and subsequent monetary 12 months, taking whole funding for annually to £29.4m.

“We’re working with group teams, charities and colleges funding initiatives, together with Inform MAMA, the main nationwide organisation monitoring and supporting victims of anti-Muslim hatred, whom we’ve got offered over £6m since their inception in 2012.”


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