A senior researcher at Hope Not Hate has said that politicians like Boris Johnson have tried to gain from alleged anti-Muslim hate speech within the Conservative party.
In August last year, the former Foreign Secretary faced criticism after saying that Muslim women who wear burqas “look like letterboxes”.
Joe Mulhall told talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright: “There is a real problem inside the Conservative party with its membership, as well as people like Boris Johnson who has said some appalling things.
“There is a problem in the grassroots of the party and it reflects a problem in the wider society in terms of attitudes towards Muslims.
“There is clearly a problem in the Conservative party and people like Boris Johnson have fed that problem and tried to gain for themselves of the back of it. It is really ugly and worrying politics.”
'Simple answer to complex questions'
Mr Mulhall also dismissed people who said accusations of Islamophobia were being used to “shut them down”.
“There are a small minority who have been reproached for engaging in things that people have deemed Islamophobic and have said they are being ‘shut down’. I don’t think that stands up on closer inspection,” he said.
Mr Mulhall suggested that Islamophobia is often suggested by “far-right” groups as a “simple answer to complex questions”.
He added: “Often people are angry and in a society that they are unhappy with but the answers to the cause of those things are complex.
“It could be economic or cultural, but a simple answer is ‘it is Muslims’ or an ‘other’ group.
“They offer a really simple answer to complex questions. It is a simple answer and that is why they take hold.”
Conservative party chairman repsonded to claims that the party was "Islamophobic" by saying any abuse or discrimination was "totally unacceptable".
In a letter to Hope Not Hate's CEO, Brandon Lewis said: "I am determined that as a Party we should take the lead in fostering the principles of tolerance and opportunity for all. Abuse or discrimination directed at anyone because of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or disability is totally unacceptable."
He added: "The party’s complaints process is robust and allows us to deal with allegations of behaviour that fall below our high standards. We take swift action when complaints are made to CCHQ, immediately referring them for investigation.
"Anti-Muslim discrimination undermines society from within and there is absolutely no place for it in this country or in the Conservative Party. The action we take is testament to the seriousness with which we take such issues, to ensure we can build a country that gives voice to all communities in Britain."
Mr Johnson has been contacted for a comment.