Mon, Jun 11, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Pro-Conservative Facebook group filled with racism

The Guardian

A controversial pro-Conservative Facebook group in the UK has been exposed as containing Islamophobic, homophobic and racist comments about public figures including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Labor MP Diane Abbott and anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller.

Comments include demands to “expel the London mayor” and “send back” immigrants, while another post states that “Islam should be banned.”

There are also homophobic remarks about Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, posted after she announced that she was pregnant.

A 42-page dossier of abusive material from the Conservative Debating Forum, a 2,700-strong Facebook group that can be joined by invitation or by permission of moderators, has been collected by the left-leaning Red Roar blog.

It found that several sitting Tory MPs, as well as dozens of Tory councilors, were members of the group.

Tories listed included the pro-Brexit MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

However, he said he was furious to find he had been signed up without his knowledge and had now left.

Former British minister for life sciences George Freeman and British MPs Glyn Davies and Andrew Rosindell were also listed as members, but all said they had no knowledge of being signed up and left after being alerted to the group’s content.

There is no suggestion that any of the MPs posted inappropriate material.

Comments in the group include the suggestion that Islam represents an “existential threat” to Britain.

Another said only “mental illness” could persuade someone to convert to Islam.

Khan is a regular target of abuse, with one commenter suggesting he should be “expelled” to prevent the growth of Islam in London.

Several comments said they could not back a Muslim British prime minister, as it could lead to “a parallel legal system including heathen Sharia law.”

The Tories have faced calls to tackle Islamophobia in the party.

Former British Cabinet minister Sayeeda Warsi has backed an independent inquiry, a demand raised by the Muslim Council of Britain.

Some Muslim Tory members have complained about being marginalized.

Images of Abbott, the shadow home secretary, doctored to be explicit, were shared in the group, with suggestions that she wants to “change the racial profile of the country.”

Other comments include comparisons between the MP and a gorilla.

There are shocking instances of homophobia against Davidson.

Members state that her pregnancy represents “degeneracy” and is “sick.”

“Homosexuals shouldn’t raise children,” one says. “You make your filthy bed and you lie in it,” another adds.

The anti-Brexit campaigner Miller is described as “a damned foreigner.”

Commenters call for her to “go home” to “get what she deserves.”

After being contacted by the Observer, the group’s administrators relaunched it under the name the Conservative Politics Society.

They told members that “in recent times our forerunner has sadly not lived up to what the group was originally founded for.”

A spokesman for the group apologized for the content and said it took its complaints procedure “incredibly seriously.”

“We have been particularly tougher on people who overstep the mark in recent months. Whilst we try to be very stringent on these matters, we cannot control the words of individual members in a forum of this size beyond banning them if reported,” he said.

“We are deeply saddened that despite our best efforts to prevent situations like this from arising, some individuals cannot seemingly abide by group rules,” he added.

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