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Boris Johnson drops pledge to hold Conservative Islamophobia inquiry

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LONDON — Boris Johnson has dropped his commitment to holding an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party, saying he is in favour of conducting a “general investigation” into all forms of prejudice instead.

The frontrunner to replace Theresa May as prime minister agreed earlier this month to hold an inquiry into anti-Muslim prejudice in the Conservative party if he becomes leader.

Asked by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid in the BBC leadership debate: “shall we have an external investigation in the Conservative party into Islamophobia?” Johnson and his rival candidates all agreed.

However, Johnson has now backtracked, telling the Conservative Home website that he would not now favour an investigation into the specific problem of Islamophobia.

“Well, I took it up with Saj afterwards and he said that actually, if I understand it correctly, what we’ve committed to is a general investigation into all types of prejudice and discrimination, including antisemitism,” Johnson said.

An opinion poll released earlier this week found evidence of widespread prejudice towards Muslims, among Conservative party members.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by anti-racism campaigners Hope Not Hate, found that 40% of members wanted limits on the number of people of the Islamic faith entering the country.

The poll also found that:

  • 43% of Conservative Party members “would prefer to not have the country led by a Muslim.”
  • 45% believe that “there are areas in Britain in which non-Muslims are not able to enter.”
  • 67% believe that “there are areas in Britain that operate under Sharia law.”
  • 39% believe that “Islamist terrorists reflect a widespread hostility to Britain amongst the Muslim community.”

Johnson has previously been accused of holding anti-Muslim views, following an article he wrote last year in which he compared Muslim women who wear the burqa to “letterboxes.”

He has also previously claimed that it is only “natural” for the public to be scared of Islam.

“To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia — fear of Islam — seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke,” he wrote in 2005.

“Judged purely on its scripture — to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques — it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers.”

In the wake of the London bombings, he also questioned the loyalty of British Muslims and insisted that the country must accept that “Islam is the problem.”

“It will take a huge effort of courage and skill to win round the many thousands of British Muslims who are in a similar state of alienation, and to make them see that their faith must be compatible with British values and with loyalty to Britain,” he wrote.

“That means disposing of the first taboo, and accepting that the problem is Islam. Islam is the problem.”

He added: “What is going on in these mosques and madrasas? When is someone going to get 18th century on Islam’s medieval ass?”

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