What did Lichfield do to deserve this?
In summer 2014, the Independent told its readers “The Conservative MP Michael Fabricant has been criticised after appearing to suggest that Baroness Warsi’s resignation over the conflict in Gaza was a ‘Muslim issue’”. Fabricant later back-pedalled in no style at all. “The MP later responded to the criticism on Twitter, saying: ‘Gaza is certainly NOT a “Muslim issue”. It is indeed a humanitarian issue’”. Well, it is in the retelling.
He was still having problems two years ago when the BBC reported that “A Tory MP has been accused of Islamophobia over a now-deleted tweet he posted about Sadiq Khan. Michael Fabricant posted a cartoon showing the Mayor of London's head on an inflatable balloon, engaged in a sex act with a pig”. And what was his excuse this time?
Did a big boy do it and run away? Was he arguing in his spare time? “Because I was distracted in a meeting and saw it on a tiny iPhone screen, I didn't spot what it really was. I would never deliberately put up a racist or Islamophobic tweet to offend people”. Perhaps he put it up not to offend people. Sayeeda Warsi was not impressed. Again.
So it might have been thought that Fabricant would tread carefully in any discussion on attitudes to Muslims, or Islam. But that thought would have been sadly misplaced, as the HuffPost has reported. “Tory MP Michael Fabricant appeared to suggest Muslims could not be English when he accused a spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain of damaging ‘Anglo-Muslim relations’.It came in a debate about Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, with Miqdaad Versi, the council’s media spokesperson, insisting on Twitter there were ‘hundreds’ of examples of anti-Muslim prejudice in the party”.
The offending Tweet read “Your spite and unpleasantness neither does the cause of tolerance in this country nor the cause of Anglo-Muslim relations any good at all”. But, as the Guardian then reported, “The tweet was later deleted and replaced with: ‘Your spite and unpleasantness neither does the cause of tolerance in this country nor the cause of relations between Muslims and non-Muslims any good at all’”. And why the change?
“I deleted it because some people chose to misinterpret it. I replaced it with Muslims and non-Muslims, which is clearer. Religion/no-religion and nationality are two different matters. I hope that answer is helpful … I am clear that there is no connection between religion and nationality, which is why I have clarified my tweet accordingly”.
As a result, the Tory Party will take no action against him. But Fabricant has told anyone listening to “look over there at Labour”, as if that excuses the bigotry in his own party. Which extends not just to Islamophobia, but also anti-black racism, and, yes, anti-Semitism. The Muslim Council of Britain was rightly unimpressed.
And so should the EHRC be. When will they investigate The Blue Team?
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