Trevor Phillips, the former head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), has been suspended from the Labour Party, over a number of public statements he has made about Muslims and Islam in the UK.
The letter of administrative suspension, details statements that Phillips has made in the past to warrant this suspension, suggesting these statements could undermine “the Party’s ability to campaign against racism”. Such statements referenced include that in which he described Muslims in the United Kingdom as being “a nation within a nation”, that the “integration of Muslims will probably be the hardest task we’ve ever faced”, and warning of the “collusion between majority norms and the behaviours of some Muslim groups”.
The decision has been met with disparagement from many commentators who view Phillips’s views on Islam and Muslim as brave and legitimate, suggesting that the Labour Party was using this to distract from allegations of anti-semitism which dominated headlines last year.
A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain has said “Mr Phillips has made incendiary statements about Muslims that would be unacceptable for any other minority. Many of these sweeping generalisations are unfounded, wildly exaggerated and are familiar tropes taken up by the far right.”
The spokesperson added: “Mr Phillips would have us believe that he is a martyr for free speech and tolerance. But the fact remains that the deployment of these sweeping generalisations and tropes would not be acceptable for any other community.
“We are not commenting on the internal processes of the Labour Party, its choices or prioritisation of this case versus others. We expect the Party to follow appropriate process and investigate its members over all allegations of Islamophobia, and all other types of racism.”
The mention of internal processes alludes to a large part of the criticism of the decision, which it placed in contrast to the perceived slowness of its processing of antisemitism claims:
Imagine surveying *all* of the issues currently demanding action from Britain's main opposition party and deciding to prioritise Trevor Phillips…
— James O'Brien (@mrjamesob) March 9, 2020
However, many others have pointed out that regardless of the process, the evidence stacked against Phillips is undeniably clear. Miqdaad Versi, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, in a long thread on twitter, lists the frequency and extensiveness of Phillip’s views on Islam. Versi refers to the controversy regarding the suspension, stating “I am not going to comment on the timing of the suspension, nor on the priority given to him over others. But those who try and make out Trevor Phillips has *nothing* to answer for, are being either disingenuous, or don’t care about what he says concerning Muslims.”
On @BBCr4today at 8:30am, I discussed Trevor Phillips' ongoing unfounded claims about Muslims that not only align with far-right Islamophobes but are used by far-right Islamophobes to justify their divisive hatefulness and targeting of Muslims. pic.twitter.com/B63p8ZHQuf
— Miqdaad Versi (@miqdaad) March 9, 2020
This isn’t a comment on the timing or politics of Labour’s decision to suspend him but all those defending Trevor Phillips as an avowed anti racism campaigner who can do no wrong should look at his track record of making unfounded claims about Muslims.
— Sonia Sodha (@soniasodha) March 9, 2020
If you’re defending Trevor Phillips then double check the so called ‘values’ you have.
Claiming British Muslims are a nation within a nation and that a Muslim family adopting a non Muslim child is ‘akin to child abuse is islamophobic, pure and simple.
— Abdi Duale (@AbdiDuale_) March 9, 2020