UK Conservatives suspend MP who said ‘Islamists’ control London’s mayor | Islamophobia News

Lee Anderson will now sit in Parliament as an independent lawmaker after his comments sparked a barrage of criticism.

Britain’s Conservative Party has suspended one of its lawmakers, Lee Anderson, after he said London Mayor Sadiq Khan was under the control of “Islamists.”

Khan, the first Muslim to serve as mayor of London and a member of the opposition Labor party, is often the target of conservative criticism for his handling of policing in the British capital, including regular pro-Palestinian marches.

On Wednesday, hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside parliament during a chaotic vote on whether to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and exactly what language to use.

Lower House Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said he was breaking with usual parliamentary procedure for the vote because of previous threats of violence some lawmakers had received over their views on the conflict. Pro-Israel voices in Britain, such as Anderson, have tried to portray the pro-Palestinian movement as dangerous, despite the fact that the majority of British respondents in several polls supported an end to the Israeli attack on Gaza.

Anderson told GB News television on Friday: “I actually don’t believe these Islamists are in control of our country. But what I do believe is that they have control over Khan and they have control over London. He essentially gave our capital to his friends.”

His comments sparked a barrage of criticism from across the political spectrum, with Labor leader Anneliese Dodds calling them “unequivocally racist and Islamophobic”.

Conservative Business Secretary Nus Ghani, senior backbencher Sajid Javid and Tory peer Gavin Barwell were among senior Tory figures to join the complaints, with Barwell calling the comments a “despicable slur”.

The Muslim Council of Britain said they were “disgusting” and extremist.

Khan – who regularly speaks about the importance of fighting anti-Semitism, misogyny and homophobia – told reporters that he considered Anderson’s comments racist and Islamophobic and that they would “add fuel to the fire of anti-Muslim hatred.”

Amid growing criticism of Anderson’s comments on Saturday, the Conservative Party said it had decided he could no longer represent them in parliament.

“Following his refusal to apologize for comments made yesterday, the Chief Whip has suspended MP Lee Anderson’s Conservative whip,” said a spokesman for Simon Hart, the minister in charge of party discipline.

Anderson, a former deputy leader of the Conservative Party, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

He will now sit in parliament as an independent lawmaker.

A survey conducted by Savanta between February 16 and 18 found that 29 percent of Britons believed the Conservatives had a problem with Islamophobia, the biggest problem of all major political parties.

Sayeeda Warsi, a Conservative member of the House of Lords and former co-chairman of the party, has previously said the Tories were “institutionally Islamophobic”.

Anderson’s comments come as incidents of Islamophobia have increased dramatically in Britain. A monitoring group said on Thursday that anti-Muslim hate incidents in Britain more than tripled after the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas in October.

Since then, Tell MAMA recorded 2,010 such cases, the largest recorded number in a four-month period, said a statement from the organization, which was set up to monitor and report such incidents.

The latest figures are up from 600 incidents in the same period in 2022-2023, an increase of 335 percent.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact the war between Israel and Gaza is having on hate crime and on social cohesion in Britain,” said Tell MAMA director Iman Atta.

“This increase in anti-Muslim hatred is unacceptable and we hope that political leaders will speak out and send a clear message that anti-Muslim hatred, like anti-Semitism, is unacceptable in our country.”

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