LONDON: The British anti-racism campaigner Trevor Phillips, who was suspended from the Labour Party in March 2020 over allegations of Islamophobia, has had his membership restored.
Phillips, former chair of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, had called Muslims “a nation within a nation” and had accused them of not engaging in parts of British culture, such as wearing poppies on Remembrance Day in memory of fallen servicemen and women.
In 2016, he said British-Muslim opinion was “some distance away from the center of gravity of everybody else’s,” and criticized the use of the term “institutional racism.”
At the time, he said the suspension had come in response to his criticism of former party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism, calling it “political gangsterism.”
Phillips added: “They say I’m accusing Muslims of being different. Well, actually, that’s true. The point is Muslims are different. And in many ways, I think that’s admirable.”
He caused controversy when suggesting it is acceptable to judge the Muslim community in the UK as a collective.
“The truth is, if you do belong to a group, whether it is a church, or a football club, you identify with a particular set of values, and you stand for it. And frankly you are judged by that,” he said.
The Guardian reported on Tuesday that his Labour membership was restored at least three weeks ago without having gone to a disciplinary panel.
Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South, said: “Before re-admittance, the party must at the very least require a full retraction and apology. Anything less makes a mockery of the idea that the party takes Islamophobia seriously and signals contempt for our Muslim supporters.”
A spokesperson for the Labour Muslim Network (LMN) said: “Trevor Phillips’ case is one of the most high-profile recent examples of Islamophobia within the Labour Party, and quietly readmitting him behind closed doors, without apology or acknowledgment, will only cause further anxiety and hurt among Muslims.”
Last year, a poll conducted by the LMN found that 55 percent of Muslim Labour supporters “did not trust the leadership of the Labour Party to tackle Islamophobia effectively.”
The party refused to comment on Phillips’ suspension, but a source told The Guardian that the investigation is ongoing and Labour rules mean further inquiries could be made despite a member’s readmission.