On Wednesday 27th November, Boris Johnson apologised for Islamophobia within the Conservative party following accusations by a Tory candidate that the prime minister was fanning the flames of anti-Muslim prejudice.
During his visit to Cornwall, he was asked if he would apologise for the Islamophobia that had taken place in the Conservative party. He said,
“Of course, and for all the hurt and offence that has been caused – of course we do. And all that is intolerable and it’s so important as a country that we don’t allow that kind of thing and that’s why we’re going to have the independent inquiry.”
Johnson has faced considerable flak for his column in The Telegraph last year where he described Muslim women who wear a burqa appearing either as “bank robbers” and “letterboxs”. Additionally, he has also failed at holding an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party.
The apology is the first Johnson has made in relation to Islamophobia. It comes in stark contradiction to Corbyn's refusal to apologise for anti-semitism who repeatedly declined during a TV interview to say sorry for antisemitism within the Labour party.
Johnson’s apology came after Parvez Akhtar, the Conservative candidate for Luton South, called on the prime minister to unequivocally apologise for comments he made about Muslim women in the Telegraph last year and hold an independent inquiry into Islamophobia within the party.
“Whatever the intent of the column the effect has has been to reinforce the widely held view that the Conservative party has a blind spot when it comes to Muslims,” said Akhtar. “This view is further exacerbated by the fact that the prime minister refuses to apologise for those comments and hold an independent inquiry into Islamophobia despite committing to it on live television.”
Akhtar said he had twice personally experienced anti-Muslim hatred aimed at him within the party since joining in 2005, but had not left because he felt the only way to effect change was from within.