CAIRO – A leading British Muslim organization has accused a Conservative Cabinet minister of using “smears and insinuation” to attack Sadiq Khan, Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London, on account of his Muslim faith.
“When British Muslims take part in politics and in the democratic life of our country, they deserve to be treated fairly and not be subject to smears that they are somehow closet extremists,” a spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain told the Independent.
“The Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi once described Islamophobia as having passed the dinner table test, and this is a case in point, where the loyalty of British Muslims and Muslim politicians is questioned.”
MCB spokesperson was attacking comments of Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, in which he claimed that Khan had spoken alongside “extremists”.
Fallon’s comments reflected unhealthy political atmosphere for Muslim politicians who were still facing attacks that played to prejudices about their religion.
The MCB official added that Khan should be judged on his record rather than his faith.
“By denying Muslims their obligation and right to take part in our democracy, we risk doing Daesh’s work who, likewise, are keen for Muslims to turn their back on democratic politics,” he said.
“Sadiq Khan deserves to be scrutinized on his record and policies, not smears by insinuation.”
Fallon’s latest attack was delivered at a speech to Conservative activists in which he said Khan would be unable do his job after his appearance at an event run by the Islam Channel.
“We need a candidate who can unite our city, not a Labour lackey who speaks alongside extremists, proving himself unfit to perform that role,” he said, according to the Evening Standard newspaper.
“A man who has said Britain’s foreign policy is to blame for the terrorist threat.”
On the other hand, Khan’s campaign accused Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith of using “coded racism”.
Khan also defended his appearance in Islam Channel, pointing out that David Cameron had done work with the same media outlet, which is available completely legitimately on Sky satellite service.
“Government ministers since then including Conservative ministers and Labour ministers at the time have done stuff with the Islam Channel and so, you know, like many other ministers I was invited and I attended,” he told the radio station.
“And by the way, in the last couple of years David Cameron has done events with Islam Channel,” Khan added.
Moreover, the spokesperson for Khan’s campaign said Fallon would “literally say anything during an election” and accused him of “demeaning” the office of defence secretary.
“The Tory campaign is in real desperation and it was only a matter of time before they went down this route — so it’s no surprise it’s Michael Fallon who will literally say anything during an election,” a spokesperson has said.
“Sadiq has consistently spoken out against extremism and terrorism. He’s suffered death threats and constant abuse from Muslim extremists throughout his life because of his mainstream views.
“He’s the only candidate in this election who has a real plan to put a stop to radicalization.
“Attacks like this on mainstream Muslims like Sadiq only make it harder for us to fight extremists, put an end to radicalization and beat the terrorists — it demeans the office of Defence Secretary.”