Eksklusief: ‘Shocking and wholly unacceptable’ delay to be raised in parliament
Afzal Khan, a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims, wrote to the prime minister in November 2020 warning of rising hate crime and questioning “the inaction of this government in tackling the issue”.
An official guide says that government departments should respond to correspondence from MPs within 20 working days, but Mr Khan has not received a reply.
The delay will be formally raised in the House of Commons on Monday, which marks the beginning of Islamophobia Awareness Month.
Mr Khan will call the lack of response “shocking and wholly unacceptable” and urge the prime minister to make a statement to MPs on Islamophobia.
Syne 2020 letter, seen by Die Onafhanklike, accused the government of reinforcing “disgraceful racism” towards Muslims with actions during the coronavirus pandemic, including a sudden regional lockdown on the eve of Eid al-Adha.
“It contributed to a deeply concerning, and false, far-right narrative that British Muslims are ‘spreading corona’,” Mr Khan added.
“As prime minister it is your duty to protect and safeguard all communities. Egter, I am disappointed, if not surprised, at the inaction of this government in tackling the issue of Islamophobia, which is clearly growing.”
A report into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, published in May, found that two thirds of discriminatory incidents reported to the party’s headquarters over six years related to anti-Muslim hatred.
The review was commissioned in December 2019 after accusations of Islamophobic behaviour by some Conservative party members and representatives.
It considered cases including a 2018 column written by Mr Johnson comparing Muslim women who wear full-face veils to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”.
The review said such incidents “give an impression to some of a party and leadership insensitive to Muslim communities”.
The government was previously accused of “utterly neglecting” Islamophobia by failing to produce a definition that can be used to combat anti-Muslim hatred for over two years.
A group of MPs and peers formulated a working definition and called for it to be adopted in 2018, saying the lack of one was allowing Islamophobia to “increase in society to devastating effect”.
The Conservative government rejected the proposed definition in May 2019, and announced that it would commission independent experts to draw up a different one.
But only one adviser is known to have been appointed and no proposals have ever been published.
During a parliamentary debate on the definition last month, minister Eddie Hughes said: “We remain committed to there being a robust and effective definition, and we will outline our steps to achieve that in due course.”
Die Onafhanklike asked Downing Street to comment on the delay responding to Mr Afzal’s letter, but has not received a response.