Chairman of the Conservative Party Lady Warsi has accused the British press of harbouring an “anti-Islamic sentiment”.
Warsi, who combines her role chairmanship with that of minister-without-portfolio, compared the Islamophobic press coverage of 2010 with anti-Semitic views expressed in the early 20th century.
‘If you go back historically – [and] I was looking at some Evening Standard headlines, where there were things written about the British Jewish community less than 100 years ago – they have kind of replaced one with the other.”
Referring to conservative columnist Peter Oborne, who has expressed the view, that anti-Islamic sentiment is the last socially acceptable form of bigotry in Britain today, Warsi – who is the first Muslim woman to sit in cabinet – told the News Statesman:
‘That’s absolutely true . . . If you have a pop at the British Muslim community in the media, then first of all it will sell a few papers; second, it doesn’t really matter; and third, it’s fair game.”
Asked about the phone-hacking allegations against the Prime Minister’s director of communications, Andy Coulson, and the damage done to the party, Warsi issues a strong defence of the ex-News of the World editor:
‘I have a huge amount of time for Andy . . . my judgement of Andy is going to be based on my experience of him,’she said.
‘I know that when I went through quite a traumatic divorce, and the media fallout from it when my ex-husband went to the papers, Andy was there for me.
‘I am a deeply loyal person and I honestly believe that you judge people on how you find them. I can only judge Andy on what I have found from him and I have always found him to be a really supportive person.”