Labour Party Expels Anti-Racism Campaigner for Criticising Pakistani Grooming Gangs

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 18: Trevor Phillips, the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, speaks at the British Chamber of Commerce Annual Conference held at the headquarters of BAFTA on March 18, 2010 in London, England. The annual conference entitled 'Preparing for Change - Setting the Business Agenda' …
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Trevor Phillips, a veteran anti-racism campaigner, accused the Labour Party of “shutting down debate” after he was expelled from the party over allegedly Islamophobic statements concerning Pakistani grooming gangs.

The former head of Britain’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Trevor Phillips, was expelled from the Labour Party in the UK for the use of language “which targets or intimidates members of ethnic or religious communities, or incites racism, including Islamophobia”, according to The Times.

The decision to remove Mr Phillips centres around a 2016 pamphlet he wrote for the think-tank Civitas, entitled Race and Faith: The Deafening Silence, in which he wrote: “The most sensitive cause of conflict in recent years has been the collision between majority norms and the behaviours of some Muslim groups.”

“In particular, the exposure of systematic and longstanding abuse by men, mostly of Pakistani Muslim origin in the north of England,” he added.

The anti-racism campaigner accused the party of “shutting down genuine debate”, saying that he “fell victim to Labour’s inquisition”.

“They say I’ve accused Muslims of being different — Muslims are different, and in many ways I think that’s admirable… We cannot continue to simply say differences don’t matter — it’s a form of disrespect,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Mr Phillips commissioned a report for the Runnymede Trust in 1997 which investigated Islamophobia in the United Kingdom and is widely credited with popularising the term for which he now stands accused.

Phillips later admitted in 2016 that he “got almost everything wrong” on Muslim immigration, and the ability of the group to integrate into British society.

“For a long time, I too thought that Europe’s Muslims would become like previous waves of migrants, gradually abandoning their ancestral ways, wearing their religious and cultural baggage lightly, and gradually blending into Britain’s diverse identity landscape. I should have known better,” he said.

The anti-racism campaigner was the first chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which launched an investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party. Before the last general election, Phillips and 23 other Labour members wrote an article in The Guardian, saying that they would refuse to support Jeremy Corbyn in the election over his handling of antisemitism within the party.

Phillips has also come under fire from left-wing activists for his stance against a push by MPs to reclassify the term Islamophobia as a “kind of racism” hostile to “Muslimness”. Mr Phillips said that the proposed update to the term was dangerous as Islam is not a race, but rather a doctrine that should be up for scrutiny.

“It was therefore only a matter of time before this ‘definition’ would lead to the persecution of dissidents. But I never imagined that I would be one of its first victims,” Phillips wrote in The Times.

Trevor Phillips said although he has disagreements with the current leadership of the Labour Party, he believes that dissenting voices are crucial for healthy debate.

“If this is how Labour treats its own family, how might it treat its real opponents if it ever gains power again? It would be a tragedy if, at the very moment we most need a robust and effective opposition, our nation had to endure the spectacle of a great party collapsing into a brutish, authoritarian cult,” Phillips warned.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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