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Britain’s escalating Islamophobia problem

News that the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is launching a campaign in parliament for fairer media coverage of British Muslims is set to reignite the debate on the depth and extent of institutional Islamophobia in the UK.

The MCB’s initiative comes in the wake of successive reports pointing to a deep Islamophobia problem across British institutions and in particular inside the Conservative party.

In the latest report by ITV news, it has been revealed that Tory party members who are under investigation for Islamophobia-related offences could still vote for the next prime minister.

Conservative party leadership contender, Boris Johnson, has reneged on his promise to hold an independent enquiry into Islamophobia if elected. Instead he is now only offering a “general investigation” into what is widely believed to be a massive problem within the Tory party.

The latest opinion poll by YouGov on behalf of HOPE not hate released on June 24 shows that 67 percent of Conservative party members have some of Islamophobic beliefs and that 43 percent would prefer not to have the country led by a Muslim.

By contrast, the Labour party, which has been accused of anti-Semitism, has been much quicker to act. In the latest development on that front, former Labour party leader and British prime minister Gordon Brown called for the “automatic” expulsion of Labour party members accused of anti-Semitism.

Muslim activists argue that the widely different attitudes toward Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are just one indicator of the British establishment’s lack of concern for the propagation of myth and hatred towards the British Muslim community.

They also believe that the British establishment is in denial in respect of the depth and intensity of the problem. For example, Tory leadership hopeful and British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has asked for a “definition” of Islamophobia before committing to combating it.

Whilst the latest initiative by the MCB may be interpreted as a step in the right direction, analysts and experts are at pains to point out the MCB’s lack of clout and the fact that it too is ultimately part of the British establishment.

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