Tories urged to take action against Brexiteer MP who spoke alongside Islamophobic voices
PUBLISHED: 17:32 13 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:51 13 July 2020
A Tory MP has been accused of supporting Islamophobia after he spoke alongside Katie Hopkins and far-right political commentators.
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The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has called on Boris Johnson to enforce disciplinary measures on Harrow East MP Bob Blackman after he spoke at seminar with far-right figures via videolink.
Blackman, an European Research Group member, alleges he had no idea the other individuals were also speaking at the event held in Gevena last year.
The MP sent a pre-recorded message to the organisation Association Panafrica on the fringe of a United Nations Human Rights Council conference in September and had his name listed as a speaker alongside those of Hopkins and Vance, who have both been repeatedly accused of spreading Islamophobic messages - a claim they reject.
The MCB said that regardless of whether Blackman was aware or not, his choice to participate in the conference follows was another show of support for public figures espousing anti-Muslim views.
Blackman has previously shared a tweet by English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson and hosted a meeting in parliament with Hindu nationalist Tapan Ghosh, who has called for controls on the birth rate of Muslims.
In his message, the Brexiteer MP said he stood “full square” behind Indian nationalists’ claims over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
A spokesperson for the MCB said: “Bob Blackman has been found have been a virtual panellist alongside well-known Islamophobes like Katie Hopkins and David Vance, individuals who regularly spout hate against Muslims.
“This in and of itself is totally unacceptable. This merits immediate disciplinary action by the Conservative Party.
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“If the Conservative Party do not request a resignation, it will provide yet further evidence that claims of taking the issue of racism seriously, are nothing more than meaningless words.”
They say the Tory Party has been slow to act and in turn allowed the MP to continue to “tacitly if not actively endorsing those who fuel toxic hate against minority communities”.
But Blackman denies any wrongdoing, saying he had been invited to speak at the event by pro-India thinktank Jammu Kashmir Study Centre UK.
He said: “I frequently receive a large amount of requests to speak at events both in the UK and abroad.
“[This time] I was unable to attend in person due to prior engagements. I agreed to record a message which would be broadcast at the event. The focus of my message was Jammu and Kashmir and my speech was to purely about my views on Jammu and Kashmir without agreeing or disagreeing with other speakers.
“Once I had discovered the details on social media I made clear my views on those speakers to the organisers of the event. Unfortunately I found out about the speakers after the video had been recorded and the meeting had taken place.
“I distance myself totally from David Vance and Katie Hopkins, I reject them and their breed of politics which has no place in our society.”
However, the MCB spokesperson said: “His name was alongside that of Katie Hopkins and David Vance in the public conference agenda. He had the opportunity to make a public statement at the time when he apparently found out but did not do so.
“Even now, when given yet another opportunity, he has not apologised for his actions. This is unacceptable. We await the Conservative Party’s response.”
The Conservative Party has been contacted for a comment.
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