Leeds imam Qari Asim urges Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to condemn Islamophobia as 'horrific incidents' reported

A senior imam in Leeds has called for the Prime Minister to condemn reports of Islamophobia, as he described "horrific incidents" experienced by members of his congregation.
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Qari Asim MBE, the prayer leader at Makkah Mosque on Thornville Road, spoke about the issue on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning (February 26).

He urged Rishi Sunak to acknowledge the scale of anti-Muslim hatred - and suggested that a statement released by the Prime Minister yesterday condemning prejudice did not go far enough.

Senior imam Qari Asim has urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to condemn reports of Islamophobia. Photo: National World/Leon Neal - PA.Senior imam Qari Asim has urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to condemn reports of Islamophobia. Photo: National World/Leon Neal - PA.
Senior imam Qari Asim has urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to condemn reports of Islamophobia. Photo: National World/Leon Neal - PA.
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The statement, posted on Mr Sunak's social media pages, criticised an "explosion in prejudice and antisemitism" since the assault launched on Israel by terror group Hamas on October 7. But it did not use the word "Islamophobia".

Mr Asim, a former independent advisor to the government on Islamophobia, said the word should have been included in Mr Sunak's statement.

He said: "There has been a failure to recognise the nature and scale of Islamophobia amongst many of our politicians.

"The Prime Minister's statement talks about prejudice and antisemitism, but it fails to recognise the existence of Islamophobia."

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He added: "This is about protecting people. I have had members of my congregation who have experienced horrific incidents of Islamophobia in the last few months."

The discussion came after Lee Anderson, a former Conservative MP, launched an attack on London mayor Sadiq Khan last week. Mr Anderson, the former deputy party chair, was suspended at the weekend after he refused to apologise for his comments.

Speaking on Radio 4 about the suspension, Mr Asim said: "We welcome the action taken against former Conservative MP Lee Anderson, but I believe it was taken because he failed to apologise, rather than to condemn the words that he expressed.

"I think it is really important that we challenge those words so that people know it is not acceptable.

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"As for the Prime Minister mentioning prejudice and antisemitism [in his statement], we welcome those words, but it would not have harmed [him] to call it out for what it is - this is Muslims being targeted because of their faith, not for any other reason."

Speaking today, the Prime Minister called Mr Anderson's comments "wrong" but denied that the party has "Islamophobic tendencies".

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