Boris Johnson apologises for Islamophobia in his party, pledges inquiry

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday issued an apology for the hurt and offence caused by Islamophobia within the Conservative Party as he pledged an independent inquiry into all forms of prejudice in his Tory party ranks. Speaking on the election campaign trail during a visit to Cornwall, Johnson was asked if he would apologise for the Islamophobia that has taken place in his party.

“Of course, and for all the hurt and offence that has been caused,” he responded.

“And all that is intolerable and it’s so important as a country that we don’t allow that kind of thing and that’s why we’re going to have the independent inquiry. We are going to have an independent inquiry into Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, every manner of prejudice and discrimination and it will start before Christmas,” he said.

The Conservatives have been battling allegations of anti-Muslim conduct within their ranks, with former Tory chair Baroness Sayeeda Warsi leading calls for a full-fledged inquiry.

Johnson’s apology comes in the wake of Opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn being criticised for repeatedly declining to apologise for how the party deals with anti-semitism claims within its ranks. During a television interview on Tuesday following the UK’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, declaring that “the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety” at the prospect of a Labour victory in December 12 general election, Corbyn just reiterated that a government led by him would protect “every community against the abuse they receive”.

The allegations of anti-Jewish sentiments within the Labour Party and anti-Islamic views within the Tory party led to other religious groups issuing their own statements regarding prejudice.

The Hindu Council UK released a letter on Tuesday to condemn the Labour Party’s failure to speak out against anti-India protests on Diwali.

The letter notes: “Jeremy Corbyn has remained silent when there has been a strident anti-India protest which culminated in anti-Hindu sentiments. Our holiest day, Diwali, was recently targeted by demonstrators prompted by several Labour Party members and MP’s support, not least with their openly condemning Hindus in their letters to the Prime Minister, Foreign Office and the UN.

“Jeremy Corbyn always speaks against Islamophobia, whereas any anti-semitic and anti-Hindu positions remain unchallenged.”

The Sikh Federation UK issued its own statement to stress that the focus on Islamophobia and anti-Semitism ignored the injustices faced by Britain’s Sikh community, highlighted in the recently released ‘Sikh Manifesto’.

“Sikhs are the most visible minority community across the globe and Sikhs and our religious institutions have been attacked and a number of Sikhs killed through what has popularly become known as mistaken identity,” the group said, calling on people to vote for the best candidate rather than on the basis of a political party in the December 12 general election. PTI