'Hypocrisy at its worst!' Keir Starmer challenged in letter over 'Islamophobia' video

Sir Keir Starmer has declined an offer to personally meet a Muslim group in Britain who have challenged his claims to be fighting Islamophobia.

The Labour leader was written to by representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community in the UK after he produced a video for Islamophobia Awareness Month in November raising their concerns about the unrecognised status of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

With 300,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the UK, they claimed that the continued isolation of the unrecognised entity is “hypocrisy at its worst” while political leaders claim to be tackling Islamophobia.

The letter comes ahead of the 50th anniversary of the division of the island of Cyprus last year caused when a military junta of Greek Cypriots turned on the Turkish Cypriot population and attempted to unite the country with Greece.

The intervention by the Turkish army to protect Turkish Cypriots has divided the island for almost five decades and left the TRNC diplomatically isolated.

'hypocrisy at its worst!' keir starmer challenged in letter over 'islamophobia' video

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Direct flights to the TRNC are not even allowed and while Labour politicians actively support tackling “Islamophobia” in Britain and support the Palestinians they are silent on the Muslim population of the TRNC and support the Greek Cypriots.

The letter to Starmer came shortly after a visit to the UK by the TRNC’s President Ersin Tatar and was signed by seven leaders of Turkish Cypriot groups.

They said: “Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Cyprus issue going unresolved.

“Despite eleven attempts since 1963 to resolve the Cyprus issue, international diplomacy has failed. Turkish Cypriots have been abandoned and isolated by the international community, including the UK who are one of the guarantor powers.”

Cyprus, the Southern part of the island, they noted, was accepted into the European Union despite failing to agree a deal brokered by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2004.

The letter went on: “As we mark Islamophobia Awareness Month, we urge you to reflect on whether the UK would isolate a European Christian country in the same way they have the Turkish Cypriots.

“Carefully cherry-picking instances of Islamophobia to condemn while ignoring others is hypocrisy at its worst.”

'hypocrisy at its worst!' keir starmer challenged in letter over 'islamophobia' video

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They added: “Prejudice against Muslims takes many different forms – international isolation and abandonment is one.”

Sir Keir suggested that the groups instead meet with shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy.

The Labour leader would go on to have a high profile meeting with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis last week but it is understood he did not raise the issue of Cyprus even though Greece along with the UK and Turkey is a guarantor power for the island.

In his letter, he said: “Thank you for taking the time to contact me and for raising your concerns of religious discrimination against Turkish Cypriots in the UK, it’s vital to hear from community groups about their experiences so we can effectively tackle the issues.

“We would also like to take the time to reaffirm our commitment to tackling Islamophobia across society, particularly at this difficult time.

“There has been a significant rise in hate crime towards Muslims in recent years, especially towards Muslim women. As part of our Mission to make Britain’s streets safe, Labour will strengthen the law so that every category of hate crime is treated as an aggravated offence.”

The groups wheich sent the letter to Starmer included Freedom and Fairness for Northern Cyprus, Young Turkish Cypriots, British Turkish Cypriot Association, Cyprus Islamic Association, the Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations; and Kibris Muslumanar.

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