LONDON: A British MP has been refused permission to raise Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “derogatory” comments about Muslims in Parliament.
On Wednesday, Labour MP Imran Hussain said during Prime Minister’s Questions that Johnson was “no stranger to derogatory remarks about Muslim women.”
As if about to follow up with a question, Hussain continued by saying “let me ask the prime minister …” before he was cut off by Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, who said: “This is not the appropriate place to be raising that.”
Hoyle then moved on to another MP without asking Johnson to answer the question or allowing Hussain to continue.
In an article in August 2018, Johnson wrote that Muslim women look like “bank robbers” and “letterboxes.”
According to Muslim hate monitor Tell Mama, hate crimes against Muslims spiked 375 percent after he made those comments
In the three weeks after Johnson’s article was published, 42 percent of offline Islamophobic incidents reported “directly referenced Boris Johnson and/or the language used in his column,” Tell Mama said.
Hussain had initially raised his concern at Johnson’s language by discussing the record of another MP, Mark Spencer, who has been appointed Commons leader — a ministerial position that organizes the government’s business in the House of Commons — despite being under investigation for Islamophobia.
Spencer is facing scrutiny as part of another Conservative Islamophobia scandal in which a senior party member — which he has admitted was him — told MP Nusrat Ghani that her “Muslimness was an issue” and a reason for her subsequent demotion from a ministerial position.
Hoyle did not elaborate on his reasoning for cutting off Hussain, but a spokesperson for the House of Commons authorities told The Independent: “Mr Speaker was following the convention set out in Erskine May that Members should not make accusations about the conduct of other Members as a ‘sideswipe’ as part of a question.”
That defense drew near-instant condemnation. The Labour Muslim Network said: “Thank you to Imran Hussain for raising the issue of Islamophobia in the House of Commons … It is absolutely shameful that this important issue was shouted down by Conservative MPs and dismissed by the House of Commons Speaker.”
Following the exchange, Hussain said: “I raised the serious issue of Islamophobia at the top of the Conservative Party. I was silenced in Parliament, but they can’t stop me speaking out against this government’s disgusting racism.” He added: “If you can’t call out Islamophobia at PMQs then where can you?”