Muslim groups slam Tories 'Islamophobic' London mayor campaign

© Suzanne Plunkett
The London mayoral election has been accused of sinking to “disturbing lows” by Muslim groups who say the Conservatives are deliberately exploiting racial tensions to help their candidate Zac Goldsmith beat Labour’s Sadiq Khan.

The comments come after Goldsmith sent out leaflets last month targeting Indian voters, warning them that his rival who is the son of Pakistani immigrants, supported Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s calls to ban Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi from visiting the UK.

The Indian leader remains a controversial figure due to the Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002, which resulted in 2,000 Muslim deaths in Gujarat where Modi was chief minister at the time.

A statement from the Muslim Association of Britain said the organization was “disturbed at how some candidates have gone to extreme measures to attack either Islamic practises or Muslims as a method of attracting support.”

Catherine Heseltine, board member of civil liberties group Muslim Public Affairs Committee, said the leaflets “effectively highlight to Hindu voters that Sadiq Khan is a Muslim,” according to the Financial Times.  

Goldsmith was also accused of racism after referring to Khan as “radical” and “divisive” in another leaflet distributed in December.

David Cameron weighed into the argument last week, accusing Labour’s mayoral candidate of being affiliated with London imam Suliman Gani, who the prime minister alleged was affiliated with the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS).

Gani denied all accusations and turned out to be a Conservative supporter who had been officially invited to a Tory event.

READ MORE: MPs brand Cameron ‘racist’ after PM claims London mayor candidate ‘shared stage with pro-ISIS imam’

The BBC was also forced to apologize after its presenter Andrew Neil falsely referred to the imam as “a supporter of the Islamic State”.

The recent spate of racism allegations was further fuelled after outgoing London Mayor Boris Johnson said “part-Kenyan” Barack Obama disliked Britain because of its colonial past in Africa, during the US president’s visit to London last week.

READ MORE: ‘Part-Kenyan’ Obama dislikes Britain for its colonial past, say ‘dog whistle racist’ Boris & Farage