The Tories are whipping up an Islamophobic witch-hunt to try and revive Zac Goldsmith’s ailing campaign in the London mayoral election.
David Cameron repeated in the House of Commons claims by BBC journalist Andrew Neil that south London Imam Suliman Gani was a “man who supports Isis”.
This was an attempt to smear Labour’s candidate Sadiq Khan who Cameron said had “appeared again and again” alongside him.
But Gani told Socialist Worker, “These claims are all fabrications and lies, but it means that my family fear for my safety and the Muslim community feels targeted.”
The Tories are scapegoating Suliman Gani in an increasingly racist campaign. Gani said, “The Tories are getting desperate and this feels to be Zac Goldsmith’s strategy to win votes.”
Protesters, mostly Muslims, chanted “Cameron—racist” outside Downing Street on Monday night. The demonstration was called by Friends of Al Aqsa (FOA), Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), Stand Up To Racism and Stop the War Coalition.
It featured protesters dressed as politicians beating up an inflatable “Muslim punching bag”.
Mohammed Kozbar from MAB said, “In history we have seen this happen to black people, Jews and Irish people.
“Today it is Muslims. We don’t know what faith or community will be attacked next.
“We need to stand together, Muslims and non-Muslims, or it will be a disaster for us all.”
Shamiul Joarder from FOA told Socialist Worker, “At the moment it feels like every time you pick up a newspaper, every time you turn on the TV, everything is about Muslims—and it’s coming from top politicians.”
He warned that the scapegoating has consequences. He said, “Violent attacks on Muslims don’t happen in a vacuum.
“There’s a direct link between politicians’ words and what happens on the streets, from harassment to the growth of the far right.”
Protester Josh Uddin agreed, “I get the Tube every day and so does my wife. Speeches like Cameron’s means people look at us as if we’re not individuals any more, as if we’re just the same as barbaric people like Isis. But I was born here—I’m as British as anyone else is.”
Some Labour MPs in the Commons rightly shouted down Cameron’s claims as “racist”.
But instead of putting up an anti-racist defence, Sadiq Khan has joined in the some of the scapegoating.
Khan’s election leaflet promises to take on “extremism”.
Gani said, “He himself is making the Muslim community feel as if they are the problem.” Demonstrators on Tuesday also chanted “Sadiq—disgrace”.
Khan claimed that “There is a question to be asked” about women who wear headscarves.
But protester Fatima said that this was “a ridiculous statement”.
Fatima added, “When you see Islamophobia you have to call it out. Protests like this are good, but they are just the beginning.”