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UK Conservatives suspend a lawmaker after he accused London鈥檚 mayor of being controlled by Islamists

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LONDON (AP) 鈥 The U.K.鈥檚 governing Conservative Party has suspended ties with one if its lawmakers after he accused London Mayor Sadiq Khan of being controlled by Islamists, as tensions over the Israel-Hamas war roil British politics.

The party said on Saturday that Lee Anderson was suspended after he refused to apologize for remarks made about Khan in a television interview on Friday. The action means that Anderson, a deputy chairman of the Conservatives until last month, will sit in Parliament as an independent.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other senior Conservative leaders had come under increasing pressure to reject the comments, which the chairwoman of the opposition Labour Party called 鈥渦nambiguously racist and Islamophobic.鈥

The controversy comes as the Israel-Hamas war fuels tensions in British society. Pro-Palestinian marches in London have regularly drawn hundreds of thousands of demonstrators calling for an immediate cease-fire, even as critics describe the events as 鈥渁ntisemitic hate marches.鈥 Figures released over the last week show that both anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim incidents have risen sharply since Hamas鈥 attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

That anger has spilled over into Parliament, where some lawmakers say they fear for their safety after receiving threats over their positions on the conflict in Gaza.

In his interview with GB News, Anderson criticized the police response to pro-Palestinian demonstrations in London, leveling the blame on Khan.

Anderson said he didn鈥檛 鈥渁ctually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they鈥檝e got control of Khan and they鈥檝e got control of London.鈥欌

Khan flatly rejected the allegations, telling the BBC that all forms of hatred need to be rejected, including antisemitism, Islamophobia and misogyny.

鈥淢y concern is there鈥檒l be people across the country, people who are Muslim, or look like Muslims, who鈥檒l be really concerned about entering into politics, because they know if these are the sorts of comments that are said against me by a senior Conservative, what chance do they have?鈥 he said.