Mohamed Iltaf Sheikh, Baron Sheikh (born 13 June 1941) is a former insurance broker and underwriter. Born in Kenya and raised in Uganda, he was made a life peer in 2006, and sits on the Conservative Party benches in the House of Lords.
Lord Sheikh first joined the Conservative Party in 2004, and is the former chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum and also the chairman of the Conservative Ethnic Diversity Council. He is actively involved in promoting the Conservative Party to ethnic minorities and also the building of harmonious relationships between various racial and religious groups.
In June 2018, as a member of the Conservative Muslim Forum, he joined calls from the Muslim Council of Britain and Sayeeda Warsi, former Chair of the Conservative Party, and wrote to Theresa May demanding an independent inquiry into alleged Tory Islamophobia. In his open letter to the prime minister, Lord Sheikh said Muslim voters “cannot bring themselves to vote Conservative because they simply do not believe the Conservative party can and will support Muslims”.
- "Zac Goldsmith’s decision to label his Labour rival as a ‘terrorist sympathiser’ was an absolute disgrace, even for the most ardent Conservative supporter – Muslim or not. Such conduct not only embarrassed the party but alienated many Conservative members from the campaign, and voters,” Lord Sheikh wrote.
On 10 August 2018, Lord Sheikh criticised Boris Johnson for "letting the genie out of the bottle" by writing an islamophobic newspaper article about Muslim women wearing burkas, and called for Johnson to be expelled from the Conservative Party.
Calls to expel Lord Sheikh
On 15 August 2018, Lord Sheikh told Mishal Husain on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that complaints from Tory MPs Zac Goldsmith and Robert Halfon calling for his expulsion from the party for attending a Palestinian rights conference in Tunisia in 2014 were "politically motivated", "trivial", "lacking substance" and he presumed, "motivated by Islamophobia".
Lord Sheikh had admitted to being present at "International Conference on Monitoring the Palestinian Political and Legal Situation in the Light of Israeli Aggression" in 2014, a Palestinian rights conference in Tunis, alongside Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Lord Sheikh said there "may have been" members of Hamas present at the conference, but that he did not speak to them. Corbyn was criticised for attending a ceremony at the Palestinian Martyrs' Cemetery, where it is alleged he lay a wreath in honour of the 1972 Munich massacre terrorists; Corbyn denied this, saying that he was at the cemetery to honour those killed in an Israeli airstrike on PLO headquarters near Tunis in Operation Wooden Leg in 1985.
Following revelations that Lord Sheikh had attended the conference in Tunis, Conservative MP Robert Halfon (a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel) called for an investigation, arguing that attending the conference was a breach of the party's code of conduct and that a failure of the party to investigate Lord Sheikh would be seen as hypocritical:
- "The evidence suggests that this conference was addressed by anti-semites, and terrorists. An alleged terror chief from Hamas reportedly said that violence was 'magnificent'."
Halfon rejected the suggestion that his letter was politically motivated, telling the BBC:
- "My key point here is that if we're going to attack Jeremy Corbyn for attending such a conference, we have to have a level playing field."
Jeremy Corbyn has faced questions about a wreath-laying ceremony he attended during his trip to the Tunis conference, which took place near memorials to people accused of having links to a terrorist attack at the 1972 Olympic Games. Lord Sheikh has said he neither attended the wreath-laying nor knew about it, and that he did not meet any members of Hamas.
Lord Sheikh founded and funds a registered personal and family charity, the Sheikh Abdullah Foundation, in his father's memory. The charity amongst other things recognises and rewards the attainment of young people who are the rising stars and hopefully will be the future leaders. The charity also supports a number of deserving causes in the United Kingdom and overseas.
Lord Sheikh was previously a company director of Camberford Law until 2008.
- Watts, Joe (14 August 2018). "Tory peer admits he was also at Palestinian conference at centre of Jeremy Corbyn's wreath-laying controversy". The Independent. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- "Conservative Muslim Forum - News/Events - News & Past Events". www.conservativemuslimforum.com.
- "Conservative Muslim Forum - About us - Objectives". www.conservativemuslimforum.com.
- Johnston, Chris (2 June 2018). "Pressure grows on May to tackle Islamophobia in Conservative party". The Observer. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
- "Lord Sheikh: Boris Johnson 'let the genie out of the bottle'"
- "Tory peer Lord Sheikh says the complaints against him about attending a Palestinian rights conference in Tunisia in 2014 are 'politically motivated', 'trivial', 'lacking substance' and he presumes, 'motivated by Islamophobia'"
- "MPs demand probe into Tory colleague Lord Sheikh over Tunis conference trip". The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald. Press Association. 15 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- "Conservatives call for Lord Sheikh to be expelled from party"
- "Lord Sheikh Tunisia row: complaint 'politically motivated'"
- "About Lord Sheikh"