The leader of the National Union of Students, Zamzam Ibrahim, has decided to withdraw from speaking at two sessions of the Conservative Party conference, taking place this week, after a fringe event of the conference, called “Challenging Islamophobia”, that took place this past Sunday contained “disturbing, downright Islamophobia”.
She wrote on twitter:
I came to Manchester for #CPC19. I had every intention of proudly representing millions of students across our country. However, as President of @nusuk and a Muslim woman I cannot in good conscience participate in a Conference that openly denies the existence of Islamophobia.
— Zamzam Ibrahim (@ZamzamMCR) September 30, 2019
Ibrahim mentions examples of this disturbing content, where, as well as denying the existence of anti-Muslim bigotry, panellists also “toasted to their being labelled ‘Islamophobe of the Year”. The event was chaired by writer, broadcaster, and former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Trevor Phillips, with human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani and doctor and commentator Dr Qanta Ahmed.
Phillips has been previously deeply criticised for his incendiary work on British Muslims, particularly with his undertaking of a survey, the findings of which was televised, titled “What do British Muslims really think?” in which he stated that Muslims in Britain were hostile to mainstream society. Marked by their insularity and conservatism; they were “becoming a nation within a nation”, contributing themselves to the Islamophobia and mistrust that existed around them. Claims that “are not supported by his own data”, Maha Akeel then argued in the Independent. In the event, when Phillips said he thought he was the only person present to have been nominated as “Islamophobe of the Year”, Tatchell responded, in which he has since said was him being ironic, that he was “jealous”.
Lady Sayeeda Warsi, former party chair of the Conservative Party, who has recently spearheaded challenging Islamophobia within the party has also expressed her shock at the event:
When “Islamophobe of the year” is worn as a badge of honour, anti Muslim rhetoric is promoted & colleagues r too scared to say publicly what they’ve told me privately.
Welcome to todays @Conservatives #CPC19
Truly ashamed of my Party & fear for Muslims under this government 😢 pic.twitter.com/9DsYyTqyds
— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) September 29, 2019
This is not the first time the ruling party has come under fire for rampant Islamophobia within its ranks, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson called out as repeatedly.