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Former British member of the European Parliament claims he was subjected to Islamophobia by a government minister
LONDON: A British Tory politician has accused his party of failing to investigate allegations of Islamophobia against a fellow Tory who has since risen to ministerial level in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government.
Sajjad Karim, a former member of the European Parliament for the North West of England from 2004 to 2019, told The Independent he was ready to log identities after an investigation into Islamophobia within the party n disregarded his assertions.
Karim said that in 2013 he overheard a conversation in which two conservative politicians, including the current minister, plotted to use Karim’s faith as a weapon against him.
“It’s politically motivated. It was entirely a political exercise to try to undermine me — to use my religion as a means to undermine me,” he said.
Her claims come just weeks after Tory MP Nusrat Ghani alleged her Muslim faith was cited by a party whip as the reason for her being sacked from a ministerial post in 2020.
“I don’t know Nus Ghani’s case or situation,” Karim said. “All I know is that in my case the discussion was about how my religious and cultural background could be politically manipulated and used against me.”
Karim said he remained silent about hearing the conversation at the time, adding that he “just carried on”, but revealed it later in September 2019 to the BBC, after which the party invited him to file a formal complaint.
However, he demanded that he be allowed to speak in person to the party chairman, MP James Cleverly, only to be told that Cleverly was too busy.
“I responded and said, ‘No, I’m not going to use the standard process, it’s not appropriate.’ And then I was emailed back saying that actually the investigation was going to happen… and the investigation would contact me and I would have to give my evidence to the investigation.
The inquiry in question, led by Professor Swaran Singh into Islamophobia within the party, published its report in May 2021, which failed to mention the incident. Additionally, Karim said he was never contacted for questioning.
“So they went ahead and wrapped it all up, but I had been kicked out of it,” he said. “So with respect to my complaint, it was neither dealt with by the President nor through the Singh inquiry, and therefore it was simply not part of any process for dealing with Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.
“I think it demonstrates a lack of real seriousness within the party to treat Islamophobia as a serious problem,” he added. “It’s seen more as a nuisance that somehow needs to be dealt with.
“Am I convinced that the current configuration has an interest in dealing with my complaint? Not at all. But that’s not to say the Conservative Party per se – the board – shouldn’t be interested in what really happened here.
Karim added that he would name the people involved in the allegation. “I will tell the party all the facts of what I went through,” he said. “The party then has to decide, is he (the minister) a fit and proper person?
‘I think it is necessary for the Conservative Party to think long and hard today about how we will once again become a party that is truly fit for governance,’ he said, adding: ‘As Boris Johnson is at the bar, I just do not see how you can carry out the necessary reforms, it is simply too distracting.
A spokesperson for the Conservative Party told The Independent: “We are committed to carrying out an investigation … into allegations of discrimination within the party.
“An independent investigation has been undertaken by Professor Swaran Singh, with individuals submitting evidence via a public call for evidence. Professor Singh’s investigation concluded there was no evidence of institutionalized racism or a systemic problem.
“The Conservative Party has a zero tolerance approach to any form of discrimination and has always acted to address any incident of hate, abuse or bullying.”