Nora Mulready, candidate for the party in the coming European parliament elections, has suggested that it was a “fallacy that Islamism is nothing to do with Islam” adding that radical Islamism can be “Koranically justified”.
In separate comments she also said the concerns of Tommy Robinson should be addressed as soon as possible because Robinson has “hit [a] societal nerve and that needs to be acknowledged”.
The Muslim Council of Britain condemned Mulready, and was joined by anti-racism NGO Tell Mama, which questioned why she was selected and said it was “a joke” for someone with her views to be put up as an MEP.
A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain said Mulready had failed to meet the anti-racist standards the party claimed to hold itself.
In 2018 Mulready drew comparisons between religious unrest in Pakistan and immigration to Britain, warning that riots in favour of blasphemy laws revealed that “immigration brings with it some very regressive cultural values” to the UK.
Responding to the criticism, Mulready said: “I have never – not once – expressed anti-Muslim hatred or bigotry.
“I have always been clear that I am talking about Islamism, and conservative Islamic cultures or beliefs, never Muslims. I am horrified, appalled and deeply upset to have been targeted by what appears to now be an active campaign of smears and lies from hard-left activists and the hard-line Muslim Council of Britain.”
But Iman Atta OBE, director of Tell Mama, told The Independent: “For a candidate in the MEP elections to cite Tommy Robinson as a benchmark for concern around radical Islamism is a joke.” He said they feared a “backlash” against Muslims because of her comments.
Naz Shah, Labour’s shadow Women and Equalities Minister, told The Independent: “It’s shocking that this Change UK candidate Nora Mulready tried to legitimise the far right. This kind of language serves to silence British Muslims from speaking out against the Islamophobia they face.
“Does she need reminding that Tommy Robinson was the leader of the English Defence League that targeted the Muslim community?”
Change UK launched its campaign this week for the European Parliamentary elections. They will field 70 candidates including journalist Rachel Johnson – sister of Tory MP and leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson.
The party – formerly known as The Independent Group – is made up of 11 MPs who quit Labour and the Tories.
Interim leader Heidi Allen said the party will campaign to remain in the European Union. “This is no rebel alliance. This is the home of the Remain alliance.”