The leader of the House of Commons has been urged to apologise for saying that Islamophobia is an issue that should be taken up by the Foreign Office.
In a letter addressed to Andrea Leadsome, MP Naz Shah expressed her concern at the comment.
“In doing so, Andrea Leadsome played into the idea that Muslims born in our country are ‘foreigners’ or somehow less British than the rest of us.
“I cannot express how damaging the consequences of this could be for the British Muslim community,” Shah said.
Leadsome, who is also a member of the Cabinet, responded by saying her comments were in regard to a “global definition of Islamophobia”.
However, Shah has argued that she specifically mentioned the definition of Islamophobia in a report that was released by the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims and that her statement was addressing the crisis of Islamophobia in the Tory party.
“This comment exposes a profound ignorance of race issues at the top of government. This is not a trivial matter. In the face of rising hate crime and an emboldened far-right movement here in Britain, how can the government hope to combat racism when its own ministers seem to lack basic understanding of the ways in which it manifests itself?” the Muslim MP said.
“Rather than seeking to make excuses, the right thing for Andrea Leadsome to do is wholeheartedly apologise and grant this debate,” she added.
Shah had been calling for a debate in the House of Commons on the rising issue of Islamophobia within the Conservative party and throughout the U.K. as a whole when Leadsome made the comment.
Leadsome’s comment follows the public outcry by senior peer Sayeeda Warsi on the government turning a blind eye on Islamophobia and the suspension of 14 members and 3 councillors of the Tory party after making Islamophobic and anti-Muslim comments online.