CAIRO - A north London conservative councilor has been suspended and put under investigation after making anti-Muslim comments on social media website and comparing face-veiled Muslim women to rubbish bags.
This is a shocking example of institutionalized and normalized Islamophobia, Azad Ali, chair of the Muslim Safety Forum, told The Guardian.
We expect the Conservative party to take a robust stand against this behavior and prove that their drive to engage with black and minority ethnic communities isn't tokenistic.
Further, we will follow up with the Metropolitan police service and see that the full weight of the law is applied.
Muslim anger erupted following claims Chris Joannides, a conservative councilor in Enfield, east London, compared Muslim women who wear the burqa to rubbish bags on his Facebook page.
Over a picture of a woman and child dressed in burqas, with a black binbag either side of them, Joannides appeared to have written: I saw her standing there and I told her she had three beautiful children. She didn't have to get all pissed off and threaten me â¦ an honest mistake.
In another posting, Joannides appears to have liked a picture of an Arab woman holding her injured child.
Joannides's Facebook page is also alleged to contain sectarian material that could offend those of Turkish-Cypriot heritage.
He is Greek Cypriot and the borough of Enfield in Greater London is home to thousands from both communities.
In other discussions he appears irritated by his work as a councilor.
While hijab is an obligatory code of dress for Muslim women, the majority of Muslim scholars agree that a woman is not obliged to wear the face veil, or niqab, but believe that it is up to women to decide whether to cover her face.
Rejecting the unacceptable comments, his fellow Conservative councilors decided to suspend Joannides over the comments.
On 15th January I was made aware of the details of a complaint regarding material on Cllr Joannides' Facebook page, Michael Lavender, leader of the Conservative group, said in a statement.
Copies of the materials were sought and obtained and a meeting took place on 17th January with Cllr Joannides. At that meeting Cllr Joannides was suspended from the group with immediate effect.
The next full meeting of the group was on 28th January. At that meeting a decision was taken to reaffirm the suspension, pending full consideration of the matter at an emergency meeting of the group. The group is currently making arrangements to fix the date for that group meeting.
A complaint has also been made to the Metropolitan police and Joannides may face disciplinary action from his fellow Conservative councilors.
Enfield council has received a complaint, which it is currently investigating. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage, Enfield council said.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.5 million.
The majority of the multi-ethnic minority has Indian, Bengali and Pakistani backgrounds.
In 2011, think tank Demo found that Muslims in the United Kingdom are more patriotic than the rest of population.
Responding to the statement I am proud to be a British citizen, 83% of Muslims said they are proud of being British.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net