Election 2019

General election 2019: Tories investigate candidate over alleged Islamophobia

Linden Kemkaran
Image caption Linden Kemkaran rejected Naz Shah's accusations of Islamophobia

The Conservatives are investigating a complaint made by Labour candidate Naz Shah that a Tory candidate re-tweeted Islamophobic material.

In a letter to Conservative chair James Cleverly, Ms Shah called for action over the Twitter activity of the party's candidate Linden Kemkaran.

This includes allegedly re-tweeting a post calling Islam a "nasty culture".

The Conservative Party says it is investigating Ms Shah's claims, which have been rejected by Mrs Kemkaran.

As reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mrs Kemkaran said she "didn't and never would describe Islam or any other culture as 'nasty'". She has since deleted the retweets.

Ms Shah, who is also Labour's shadow equalities minister, is defending Bradford West and Mrs Kemkaran is standing in nearby, Labour-held Bradford East.

Here is a full list of candidates in Bradford West and Bradford East.

Writing to Tory chairman Mr Cleverly, Ms Shah said: "I tweeted out how disgusted I felt that your Bradford East candidate, Linden Kemkaran, described Bradford as having 'crime infested streets' and 'no-go areas' during a local hustings.

"I highlighted how the link to no-go areas is a far right trope used to attack and demonise minority communities. I recognise that people can make mistakes for a number of reasons, including sometimes through ignorance.

"However, instead of Linden Kemkaran apologising for peddling such rhetoric, she decided it was apt to double down on this message.

"In response she retweeted a user - whose Twitter biography reads 'No to that cult, Islam' and a message that said: 'Muslims always the victims, play race card, 'Islamophobia' what a crock, what a nasty culture.'

"To peddle these far-right tropes especially by an individual standing for office is not only irresponsible but hugely dangerous for minority communities."

The Bradford West candidate accused Mrs Kemkaran of empowering "dangerous and hateful speech" and called for her to be suspended.

She also said a full investigation on the issue should take place.

She later accused the Conservatives of "refusing to take action" adding "clearly, Boris Johnson's claim that racist Conservative candidates are 'out first bounce' was yet another lie".

Conservative leader Mr Johnson has previously said party members guilty of Islamophobia "are out first bounce".

Image copyright UK Parliament
Image caption Labour's Naz Shah said she was "disgusted" by the comments of a Conservative party candidate

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In response, a Conservative spokesperson said: "This matter is being investigated.

"Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong, and the Conservative Party takes decisive action to deal with any incidents of hatred, abuse or intimidation.

"Our complaints process is rightly a confidential one but there are a wide range of sanctions to challenge and change behaviour, including conditions to undertake training, periods of suspension and expulsion, and these are applied on a case-by-case basis."

On Sunday, Mr Cleverly apologised for Islamophobia in the party and said an inquiry would be initiated "this calendar year".

In a tweet responding to criticism, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mrs Kemkaran said: "Of course I don't think Muslim culture is negative or 'nasty' - quite the opposite in fact.

"When I interact with anyone I see the human being first, that matters way more than colour/religion/sexuality etc. I wish others would do the same."

In another response she said: "Can I just make it absolutely clear that I didn't and never would describe Islam or any other culture as 'nasty' - I'm the product of a multi-cultural/heritage background and a constant promoter of diversity and equality."

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