Tory Islamophobia inquiry chair’s appointment questioned Sayeeda Warsi (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
A Tory peer has questioned the views of the newly appointed chair of the Conservative party’s inquiry into its handling of complaints about discrimination, including Islamophobia.
Sayeeda Warsi, Britain’s first female Muslim cabinet minister and formerly chair of the Conservative party, has questioned Professor Swaran Singh’s views on the disputed Kashmir region.
Singh, who was on Tuesday announced as the chair of the review, had earlier dismissed Islamophobia as a term designed to shut down criticism of Islam. He had also argued that the Kashmir conflict had been portrayed as a tragedy only for Muslims.
In a series of tweets, Warsi quoted from Singh’s article in August about Kashmir: “Ladies and Gentlemen I give you some views of the newly appointed Chairman of the ‘Independent review into all forms of discrimination and prejudice including Islamophobia’@Conservatives I will let you make your own mind up.”
She also questioned the scope of the inquiry, telling the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“What I’ve argued is that for the inquiry to be credible it is vital that both the scope of the inquiry was appropriate to cover everything that has happened over the last four years and unfortunately the remit of this inquiry does not cover that.
“And, secondly, that the person who chairs this report must have the confidence of the communities that the report in the end will seek to protect. And, having read Swaran Singh’s views – I wasn’t aware of him before yesterday’s announcement – I’m afraid that it doesn’t bode well.”
Warsi’s comments come after the Muslim Council of Britain accused prime minister Boris Johnson of “deceit” after the Conservative party decided against holding an inquiry specifically into Islamophobia in the party.
“(Swaran Singh’s) appointment is at risk of being seen in the same light as the Conservative party’s customary approach to Islamophobia, that of denial, dismissal and deceit,” Harun Khan, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, said.
“We were promised an independent inquiry into Islamophobia specifically. Now we have a review that aims to broaden the scope to examine discrimination more generally.
“A laudable aim if it were not for the fact that the Conservative party is afflicted with a particular type of bigotry that it refuses to countenance.
“The appointment of Professor Singh does not instill huge confidence in the process.”