Hawzah News Agency (London, UK) – The Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi has called on ministers to heed demands from Muslim leaders for an increase in funding for mosque security after the New Zealand terrorist attack as she said Islamophobia was the party’s “bigotry blind spot”.
The former Tory party chair said there was overwhelming evidence to support an increase in funding for mosque protection following the Christchurch attacks, which claimed 50 lives.
The Muslim Council of Britain has called for increased funding for Muslim places of worship amid a rise in the number of suspected far-right incidents across England, some of which are thought to have been inspired by the atrocities in New Zealand.
Lady Warsi made the comments as a row continued over the Conservatives’ record on tackling Islamophobia. Earlier this month, Warsi repeated calls for an internal inquiry and suggested the most senior figures in the party – including Theresa May – needed to take the problem more seriously.
“My concern with the party and the government is Islamophobia – it’s our bigotry blind spot,” she told.
Responding to claims that mosques were disproportionately funded, Warsi said: “That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact. There are two different pots of funds: there’s a fund specifically for the protection of synagogues and then a fund of about £2.4m for the protection of all other religious institutions.
“The government has to go back and recognize that is there a need right now – and there’s overwhelming evidence that there’s clearly a need – and therefore how quickly is it going to respond to that.”
Warsi said a change the government should make – to show it has learned from the attacks in New Zealand – is to adopt a formal definition of Islamophobia. A definition put forward by the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims had been adopted by the Lib Dems, was being considered by the Labour party and was backed by councils, academics, 850 Muslim organizations and about 70 parliamentarians, she said.
“Whether it’s in relation to the protection of mosques, whether it’s in relation to engagement with British Muslim communities, whether it’s in relation to acknowledging the level of hate either within the party or within government policymaking, whether it’s the way we use the language of British Muslim communities, it is our bigotry blind spot.
“It comes back down to the fact that we fail to see it and recognize it as a specific form of racism that it is, directed at British Muslim communities, and we therefore fail to make adequate policy and respond.”