A story in this weekend’s Sunday Times alleged that Nusrat Ghani MP had been removed from her post as a junior Minister due to her Muslimness.
Dr Shahnaz Akhter, researcher in Muslim identity in the UK with a special focus on Muslim women, comments:
“Although the story was quickly challenged by Conservative Whip Mark Spencer, the incident brings to the fore a broader question of Islamophobia in the political system.
“Islamophobia in Runnymede’s short definition is anti-Muslim racism.
“In both the Conservative and Labour parties, female Muslim MPs and peers have spoken of their experience of Islamophobic abuse from members of the public and also within the Houses of Parliament.
“Apsana Begum, the first hijab-wearing MP, has tweeted, ‘Despite being a new, relatively young MP, I am regularly heckled & aggressively interrupted in the chamber in what often appears to me & others, to be targeted. …the level of trolling, intimidation, victimisation and smear campaigns has been relentless.’
“While Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced an inquiry, more must be done across the political spectrum to challenge Islamophobia both within politics and wider society.
“The othering of Muslim women reflects statements made from the top of the political spectrum.
“Equally, the silences around Islamophobic abuse allow for this othering to continue. Parties must engage with their Muslim members and listen to their concerns. Condemnation must come with a change of behaviour.”
24 January 2022
Media Relations Manager