Andrea Leadsom urged to apologise for Islamophobia response

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A Labour MP has urged Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom to apologise for appearing to suggest Islamophobia was a matter for the Foreign Office.

Naz Shah had asked her about a recently published definition of Islamophobia and requested a Commons debate.

Mrs Leadsom's response "played into the idea that Muslims born in our country are 'foreigners'," said Ms Shah.

Mrs Leadsom has said she thought the Labour MP was referring to a global definition of Islamophobia.

But in a letter to the prime minister on Friday, Ms Shah said she found Ms Leadsom's explanation of her comments "hard to accept".

"Rather than seeking to make excuses, the right thing for Andrea Leadsom to do is wholeheartedly apologise and grant this debate", she added.

Ms Shah, the shadow women and equalities minister, had asked for a debate after the Conservatives faced criticism over Islamophobia.

She added that the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims had recently published a definition of Islamophobia.

Mrs Leadsom replied that the Conservatives had an "extremely robust and urgent" response to Islamophobia but went on to suggest that, on the definition of Islamophobia, Ms Shah "can discuss with Foreign Office ministers whether that would be a useful way forward".

A spokesman for the Commons Leader's office spokesman said on Thursday: "Islamophobia is unacceptable wherever it takes place.

"It was thought the MP for Bradford West was referring to a global definition of Islamophobia.

"International efforts to combat Islamophobia (and all forms of religious persecution and prejudice) are lead by the PM's special envoy on freedom of religion or belief, Lord Ahmad, at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

"Of course, any form of Islamophobia in the UK would be dealt with swiftly by the Home Office or Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government as appropriate."

Ms Shah was made shadow equalities minister last year after a previous suspension in a row over anti-Semitism.

Naz Shah lost the parliamentary whip and was barred from party activity for three months in 2016 while an investigation was carried out.

It followed social media messages about Israel which she conceded were anti-Semitic.

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