Lessons For Conservative Muslims
Now that the Conservative party conference has come to a close in Birmingham, Conservative Muslims should ask themselves some tough questions.
It's true that the party has not courted Muslim voters in the past, despite a lot of Muslims having Conservative values. Many Muslims are business people and have an entrepreneurial spirit, a lot of Muslims tend to be socially conservative with a strong belief in family values and tradition, Muslims believe in philanthropy and Muslims believe strongly in law and order, yet why is the Muslim membership of the Conservative party small (if admittedly, growing)?
The party has had a past that is regarded by many as one that pandered to racist elements, both inside the party and externally to the unacceptable far-right. Attitudes in the party to foreigners was often boorish, as borne out in the memoirs of some of the previous leaderships, such as Margaret Thatcher's. Thankfully, such attitudes are in decline in the party. An enforced period in opposition may have brought about this change, but there is still some way to go for the Tories to really claim to be representative of modern day Britain.
Muslim members of the Conservative party have to define what they want to achieve.
Are they there merely to act as a recruitment drive, aiming at a specific demographic like the Conservative Muslim Forum, which simply parrots the leaderships' utterances? Or do they want to become something more substantial?
It is a good opportunity to have an ambition to make the party more Muslim friendly. There are for example a number Tories that are ideologically Zionist, the most senior of whom are Dr Liam Fox and Michael Gove. Zionists by their nature are Islamophobic and their attitudes should be confronted. Who will do this?
The party, now in a coalition government needs to make an unequivocal stand on the illegal occupation of Palestine. Why should we prolong the occupation by trading with Israel?
There are of course other issues to.
Why should people be allowed to incite hatred against Muslims, by using the loophole that Muslims aren't defined as a race? What will the Conservative party do about the rise of the far-right fascists like the EDL?
What will Michael Gove's attitude be towards new Muslim faith schools?
What will the government do about Turkey's wish to join the EU?
Will the Conservatives learn from their mistakes in the 1990s and take a more active role in stabilising Bosnia? These issues are not exhaustive but they are a selection of the many issues that face Conservative Muslims.
This is an opportunity for the Conservative party to reach out to Muslims, but they will only attract more Muslim membership by making the party more inviting with policies that concern British Muslims.