When news of Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani being sacked allegedly for her ‘Muslimness’ broke out, many Muslims in the UK were unsurprised.
The MP for Wealden in East Sussex said that she was dismissed as a transport minister in 2020 and her “Muslimness was raised as an issue” by a government whip.
Writing in The Sunday Times, she wrote the whip had told her being a “Muslim woman... was making colleagues uncomfortable”.
Muslims around the country can relate to the sentiment, and we’re not shocked by the allegations.
Many took to social media to point out that the Conservative party had a track record of Islamophobia, ranging from Boris Johnson likening Muslim women to letterboxes, a comment that was linked to a 375% rise in hate crimes, the government’s prevarication over the definition of Islamophobia, and its appointment of Trevor Phillips, a man who was suspended from the Labour party for Islamophobia, to lead a review into Covid deaths, something that has disproportionately affected the Muslim community.
And now, new research shows that Tories are actually statistically more likely to hold anti-Muslim views.
The University of Birmingham found that Conservative voter, middle-class, and upper-class occupational groups are more likely to hold prejudiced views of Islam than people from working class occupational groups.
Muslims were found to be the UK’s second ‘least liked’ group, after Gypsy and Irish Travellers: 25.9% of the British public feel negatively towards Muslims (with 9.9% feeling ‘very negative’). This compares with 8.5% for Jewish people, 6.4% for Black people, and 8.4% for white people. Only Gypsy and Irish Travellers are viewed more negatively by the British public, with 44.6% of people viewing this group negatively.
The survey, which was carried out with YouGov, found that 23.2% of upper and middle-class people held prejudiced views about Islamic beliefs compared with only 18.4% of people questioned from the working-class group.
However, when asked about Islam, in conjunction with other most popular religions, older people, men, working class people and Conservative and Leave voters are consistently more likely to think of Islam as the most dangerous and oppressive.
More than one in four people, and nearly half of Conservative and Leave voters, held views that purport to ‘Islam threatens the British way of life’.
Support for banning all Muslim migration to the UK was 4-6% higher for Muslims than it is for other ethnic and religious groups.
The survey also found that the British public is almost three times more likely to hold prejudiced views of Islam than they are of other religions. British people are more confident in making judgements about Islam than other non-Christian religions but are much more likely to make incorrect assumptions about it, the results showed.
Dr Stephen H. Jones from the University of Birmingham and lead author of the survey, said Islamophobia in Britain is an accepted form of bigotry.
“Prejudice towards Islam and Muslims stands out in the UK, not only because it is much more widespread than most forms of racism, but also because prejudice toward Islam is more common among those who are wealthier and well-educated,” he said.
The survey, presented in a report titled ‘The Dinner Table Prejudice: Islamophobia in Contemporary Britain’, interviewed a sample of 1667 people between 20th and 21st July 2021, which was weighted by age, gender, social grade, voting record, region and level of education to ensure representativeness.
Weighting was based on the census, Labour Force Survey, Office for National Statistics estimates, and other large-scale data sources.
Other Muslim MPs have highlighted the vile Islamophobia they receive. Zarah Sultana, MP for Coventry South, gave a tearful testimony last year recounting the horrid abuse she gets. MP for Poplar and Limehouse, Apsana Begum, also illustrated the Islamophobia present in our political landscape.
The prime minster is facing fresh calls to launch an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.