WITHIN the space of 24 hours, influential members of the Conservative Party displayed their racism and Islamophobia for everyone to see.

Suella Braverman, the former Home Secretary, told a national newspaper that “Islamists are in charge of Britain".

Liz Truss, the former (albeit for 49 days) prime minister, promoted dangerous conspiracy theories about the threat to “western democracy” on the stage of CPAC, an annual right-wing conference in the US, where Nigel Farage and Donald Trump have previously been greeted as keynote speakers. She followed this by joining Trump’s former adviser, Steve Bannon, on his podcast and remained silent as he heralded the extremist and right-wing campaigner “Tommy Robinson” as a “hero”.

And Lee Anderson, the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party claimed on GB News that Sadiq Khan, the Muslim Mayor of London, was controlled by Islamists. It seems that for Mr Anderson, being Muslim is synonymous with being an extremist.

The National: Sadiq Khan (Victoria Jones/PA)

This was all within the same 24 hours during which Tell MAMA, a UK-wide charity, reported an overwhelming rise of hate-crimes against Muslims.

This targeting of Muslims, or at the very least, silent acceptance of it, has become too frequent in UK politics. I watched as the social media updates came in of this, one by one, followed by applause, fascist commentary, and thinly-veiled threats in the comments. Because that’s what moments like this, by those with influence do; they encourage and legitimise division and hatred within our communities.

Of course, us Muslims are, essentially, collateral damage in the gutter-politicking of the likes of Braverman, Anderson and Truss. The purpose is to appeal to the very right of their party, to appear like you are speaking some kind of silver-tonged truth and, most importantly, to position yourself as a leader in waiting. But we have been collateral damage of this kind far too often.

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We saw it during Sadiq Khan’s last mayoral election, we saw it in Boris Johnson’s comments calling women in Burkas “letterboxes” in an attempt to appease a right-wing readership and we see it regularly in column-inches dedicated to dissecting whether us Muslims can truly integrate into British life and “British values.”

Talk of integration from the same people who also often talk-up the merits of the British Empire is a head-spinning level of irony.

Of course, we see it directly in Westminster’s actions. The UK Government dropped its commitment to review and accept a definition of anti-Muslim racism – a commitment it made in 2019.

Since his remarks, Lee Anderson has lost the Conservative whip, but what of Braverman and Truss? Are we to assume that Rishi Sunak is comfortable with their comments? Or yet again, is my community collateral damage in a political battle over the leadership of a party in freefall?

The National: Lee Anderson appeared on GB News on Friday evening

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The Conservative Party, the party in government for 14 years, has a history of Islamophobia that it refuses to even acknowledge. This is not just coming from equalities and anti-racism campaigners like myself; this is coming from their own. Baroness Warsi, a former Conservative cabinet minister, former chair, and now peer in the House of Lords, has repeatedly called for an investigation into Islamophobia in the party but has been largely ignored. Since Lee Anderson’s comments, she has said that this is just “the tip of the iceberg.”

Someone so prominent campaigning against Islamophobia within the Conservatives being ignored illustrates just how little consideration is being given to the consequences of the harm this political culture does to communities across the UK.

She is of course right. There are a litany of examples of Islamophobia, often receiving little media attention, and even less punishment. Truth be told, I was surprised that Lee Anderson lost the whip. Prior to joining the Conservatives, he was a Labour councillor, and was suspended by his local branch after setting up boulders to block access by Traveller communities to a camp site in his constituency. During his 2019 election as a member of the Conservatives, he was one of three Conservative Party candidates who was investigated over claims of antisemitism. And, as Warsi says, it is the tip of the iceberg.

The same can be said of Suella Braverman. She previously stated that grooming gang were almost entirely made up of Pakistani men. This is in direct contradiction to the Home Office’s own published report. But accuracy did not matter, collateral damage and personal leadership ambitions did. No apology for the inaccuracy and no consequences. Her most recent comments are simply more of the same.

The National: Former Home Secretary Suella Braveman in the Commons defending Lord Austin. Pic - PA/Parliament TV

The division and hatred that is encouraged by such remarks does a grave injustice to our politics and our democracy. Politicians are elected on the basis of trust and in the hope that they improve peoples’ lives. Instead we find ourselves with far too many politicians happy to pit communities against each other for a few votes and a moment of media relevance.

In the week following Boris Johnson’s article and his remarks about Muslim Burka wearing women, according to Tell MAMA UK, there was a 375% increase in anti-Muslim incidents. I remember this well. During that week I received a number of forwarded WhatsApp messages reminding Muslim women to stay vigilant and look after each other. Just one example of the consequences of Islamophobic and racist comments by those with influence.

A General Election cannot come soon enough.