British Sikh MP demands UK PM Boris Johnson apology over ‘racist remarks'
Britain's first turbaned Sikh MP, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, on Wednesday demanded that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologise for “racist” remarks against Muslim women in the past.
In a fiery intervention during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons, Dhesi attracted applause from fellow Opposition Labour party MPs as he made a passionate speech about enduring such attacks related to his turban while growing up in Britain. "For those of us who, from a young age, have had to endure and face up to being called names such as towelhead or Taliban, or to people saying we come from bongo, bongo land, we can appreciate full well the hurt and pain felt by already vulnerable Muslim women when they are described as looking like bank robbers and letterboxes," said Dhesi, in reference to Johnson's column in ‘The Daily Telegraph' newspaper last year.
"So rather than hide behind sham and whitewash investigations, when will the Prime Minister finally apologise for his derogatory and racist remarks? Those racist remarks have led to a spike in hate crime,” he said. Monitoring group Tell MAMA [Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks] had unveiled research earlier this week which claimed that Islamophobic incidents rose by 375 per cent in the week after Johnson's references to the burqa as "oppressive" in the newspaper column.
"If you tell me that the burka [burqa] is oppressive, then I am with you… I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes," he wrote at the time. Dhesi also challenged the British prime minister to order an investigation into alleged Islamophobia within his own Conservative Party.