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British Conservative Party mired in Islamophobia row

Vidya Ram London | Updated on May 31, 2018

Tapan Ghosh is accused of tweeting “All Muslims are jihadis”, revelaed a National Secular Society meeting held last year   -  File photo

Muslim Council of Britain accuses Tory MP Blackman of anti-Muslim bias

A meeting in Parliament attended by Tapan Ghosh, leader of the Hindu Samhati last year, has formed the centre of a growing political row in Britain over the alleged Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

The meeting that took place in a committee room of Parliament in October 2017 — organised by the National Council of Hindu Temples (UK) and the British Board of Hindu Scholars but held in a room booked through Bob Blackman MP, the Conservative chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Hindus — was used by the Muslim Council of Britain in a letter to the Conservative Party to highlight a “wider problem” in the party with individuals who “fostered Islamophobia.” Ghosh, described by the Muslim Council of Britain as an “anti-Muslim extremist,” organised to send some cadres for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, a retired intelligence officer of West Bengal government said.

‘Consistent record’

“Just last month, there were more than weekly occurrences of Islamophobia from candidates and representatives of the Conservative Party,” reads the letter made public on Thursday. “These cases are just the tip of the iceberg and what is in the public domain. Whilst they were thankfully dealt with once they were brought to public light, these cases suggest a wider problem.”

The Muslim Council gave particular focus to Blackman, the MP for the multicultural London constituency of Harrow East who it accused of showing a “consistent record” of endorsing Islamophobia.

It highlighted the hosting of Ghosh as well as Blackman’s re-tweeting of an anti-Muslim post by the far right anti-Islamic activist Tommy Robinson. Blackman “shared an anti-Muslim post on Facebook and this week was found to have been a member of a number of Islamophobic Facebook groups,” the letter to Brandon Lewis, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, states. “The Conservative Party prides itself in being against any form of bigotry and racism yet there are serious concerns.”

“I utterly refute this allegation,” said Blackman in a statement. “ I was added to Facebook groups without my knowledge or permission and immediately removed myself from them when I became aware I had been added. I did not host Tapan Ghosh in Parliament. He was invited by an organisation without my knowledge. In the past I shared a social media post in error, which I apologised for at the time. I will continue working with all communities in my constituency and I condemn Islamophobia.” An invitation to the event, described Blackman as the host of the event “Tolerating the Intolerant.” Blackman chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Hindus, which aims to “support and promote the interests of British Hindus to Parliament.”

“Tapan Ghosh was invited by the National Council of Hindu Temples to attend that meeting and present evidence of physical attacks, rapes, forced marriages and forced conversions that have taken place in West Bengal and other places,” Blackman told the House of Commons last year.

Reopened case

“I have made clear, and the National Council of Hindu Temples has made clear, that it was only in that capacity — as presenting that evidence — that individual was invited to this House. He made no abhorrent remarks at the meeting, and I am quite clear that I and the National Council of Hindu Temples do not agree with the views he previously stated.”

Last year Britain’s Charity Commission opened a case into the National Council of Hindu Temples (UK) over the invitation extended to Ghosh.

Ghosh was arrested earlier this year by Kolkata Police for assaulting a group of journalist and released on bail.

“Gosh is on record calling on the United Nations to control the birth rate of Muslims and has previously been accused of promoting anti-Muslim conspiracies, praising the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in in Burma, and calling for Muslims to be forced to convert if moving to a western country. He has also tweeted that “All Muslims are jihadis” said the National Secular Society last year when details of the October meeting were revealed.”

The National Council for Hindu Temples (UK) was not available for comment at the time of going to print.

The controversy over the Conservative Party’s stance on tackling Islamophobia within its ranks, comes after the Labour Party was marred in a controversy over its treatment of anti-Semitism within the party.

Published on May 31, 2018

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