LONDON: The UK’s governing Conservative Party has been accused of ignoring rising Islamophobia in Britain and within its ranks as new figures show a surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes nationwide, The Independent reported on Monday.
Government figures show that hate crimes targeting Muslims in the UK rose by 28 percent in the last year, accounting for 42 percent of all recorded religious hate crimes in 2021/22.
For the past five years, Muslims have accounted for the highest proportion of religious hate crime victims, figures show.
Within the Conservative Party, questions remain over the result of a probe into MP Mark Spencer, who was accused of Islamophobia by a fellow MP.
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case last month said the investigation into Spencer’s actions remains “outstanding.”
In a letter to Conservative Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi, Labour chair Anneliese Dodds questioned the government’s alleged inaction on Islamophobia.
“It is deeply concerning that I must again raise the issue of Islamophobia directly with the chair of the Conservative Party,” she said.
“As Islamophobic hate crime is on the rise, the Conservatives need to show they are serious about tackling this insidious hatred, both in society and within their party. Denial of the issue simply isn’t good enough.”
Zahawi previously rejected criticism that the Conservatives are suffering from an Islamophobia problem, saying he “did not recognize institutional racism in the party.”
Dodds, in her letter, raised the issue of definitional arguments over Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.
In 2018, a cross-party parliamentary group encouraged the use of the term Islamophobia within government communications, but the Conservatives rejected the findings.
Dodds asked Zahawi whether his party would end the “bizarre practice of refusing to use the term.”
The Independent reported last week that the government had ended discussions over the use of the term more than three years after the findings of the cross-party group were released.
Imam Qari Asim, a senior British Muslim figure who took part in consultations with the parliamentary group, warned earlier this year that the government “had not engaged with him at all.”
He added that officials “completely failed to undertake any steps to facilitate the work of establishing a new definition in the last three years.”