Tories ‘working properly’ to deal with Islamophobia, minister insists

A Government minister has insisted the Conservative Party is “working properly” to deal with cases of Islamophobia, despite calls for an independent inquiry into the issue.

Nadhim Zahawi disagreed with the suggestion made by senior Tory peer Baroness Warsi and said the party stamps on Islamophobia “wherever and whenever we find it”.

Lady Warsi, who was the first Muslim woman to have a seat at the Cabinet table, said there was a “deep-rooted problem” in the party and claimed Theresa May had failed to act.

She called for an independent inquiry into “institutional” Islamophobia in the party.

Mr Zahawi, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett Show: “I think we are doing right thing … we stamp on this wherever and whenever we find it.

“What you need to do is deal with the problem and the way to do it is act upon it rather than waste time and money on independent inquiries.

“This is where I disagree with Sayeeda … I think the organisation is working properly to deal with these things.”

He also told the programme he was subjected to racist comments at a Tory Party function from a Conservative activist.

“We were talking about issues to do with immigration and I was making the argument that the Conservative Party was very positive about having healthy migration to this country and it’s the right thing to do, and people who work here and become naturalised are as British an anyone else, and this individual disagreed with me and said ‘no you’re not, we’re not equal’, and that hurt,” he explained.

Asked what happened as a result, Mr Zahawi said: “It was dealt with – those people are no longer involved in the party.

“That individual for other reasons decided they didn’t want to be involved in the party and the Conservative Party didn’t want them either.”

He added the individual was a party activist rather than a party member and could not be disciplined.

Lady Warsi’s intervention on Tuesday came after Tory council candidate Peter Lamb quit after coming under fire for social media comments about Islam.

A total of 14 Conservative members were suspended from the party over allegedly Islamophobic comments on the homepage of a Facebook group.

The Buzzfeed website carried details from the page – established by the self-styled “Jacob Rees-Mogg Supporters Group” – showing posts calling for the closure of all mosques and branding Muslim Home Secretary Sajid Javid a “Trojan horse”.

A party spokesman said: “This Facebook group is in no way affiliated with the Conservative Party and many of the people identified on it are not party members.

“However, we have identified some people who are party members and they have been immediately suspended, pending further investigation.

“When we find evidence of members making offensive or inappropriate comments, we consistently take decisive action.

“Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong and will not be tolerated.”

A senior Conservative source said: “You saw some action taken yesterday with the suspension of the membership of 14 individuals.

“The record will show that we have acted quickly and it is the Prime Minister’s view that we should continue to do that.”

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