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Tories urged by Muslim group to tackle Islamophobia

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s largest Muslim group on Thursday urged Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party to launch an independent inquiry into Islamophobia to make sure “racists and bigots have no place in the party”.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a speech to students and staff during her visit to Derby College in Derby, Britain, February 19, 2018. REUTERS/Christopher Furlong/Pool

The Muslim Council of Britain said there are now “more than weekly incidents” of Islamophobia involving Tory candidates and representatives, ranging from offensive tweets to accusations of links to far-right figures.

“We want all political parties to ensure that they are firm in their commitment against all forms of bigotry and discrimination,” Harun Khan, Muslim Council of Britain’s general secretary, said in a letter to the Conservative Party chairman.

“Our democracy should not be overshadowed by a divisive culture within political parties that scapegoats minorities and alienates some who share similar political positions.”

A spokesman for the Conservative Party said it took all incidents of Islamophobia seriously.

The letter lists a number of incidents that the Muslim group said took place during April and at the start of May including councillors in the Conservative Party calling Islam the “new Nazism” and sharing articles that called Muslims “parasites”.

The list included David Boston, a Conservative candidate who was suspended days before local elections for a posting a photo of bacon hanging from a door handle, with the caption: “Protect your house from terrorists.”

The Muslim Council of Britain also criticised the party for failing to take action against those responsible for “shocking Islamophobia” during campaign run by Zac Goldsmith in his unsuccessful bid to beat Labour’s Sadiq Khan to become London mayor in 2016.

Sayeeda Warsi, a member of the Conservative Party in the upper house of parliament and Britain’s first Muslim to serve in cabinet, told Good Morning Britain the party needs to “stop denying that it exists”.

Britain’s opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has recently faced claims of turning a blind eye to anti-Semitic comments in the party and among groups he supports - something the Conservative Party has used to argue he is not fit to lead Britain.

Reporting By Andrew MacAskill; editing by William James