A British Sikh BBC reporter based in southwest England has spoken out about being mistaken for a Muslim and targeted in an Islamophobic incident. Manpreet Mellhi, whose family hails from India, found packets of pork scratchings in her shopping basket at a Sainsbury’s supermarket in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on Saturday.
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The BBC Radio Gloucestershire reporter and presenter recalls that before finding two packets of the salty snack in her basket she had noticed a pair of shoppers sniggering at her, according to ‘Gloucestershire Live’.
“To person who dropped two bags of pork scratchings into my basket in Sainsbury’s: your pitiful Saturday activity backfired. I’m not Muslim,” she tweeted.
“It shocked me a bit. I think it was deliberate, though I couldn’t say 100 per cent, but nothing about it was a normal situation. Did people want to offend me? I don’t know. Did they think it was funny? Probably,” Mellhi said.
“Had I been a Muslim or had it happened to a Muslim then I would have found it more offensive than I did. It’s sad for someone to go into a supermarket on a Saturday and mock somebody,” she said.
Muslims do not consume pork because it is forbidden as part of their religion. Mellhi decided not to report the incident to police so Gloucestershire Constabulary said it could not comment on the specific incident.
Police Constable Steph Lawrence, the force’s hate crime coordinator, said, “It is extremely important for victims to report hate crime and we encourage them to, no matter how small they think the incident is. These are completely callous and unacceptable crimes which we are determined to tackle.”
“It is vital for all hate crimes to be reported, otherwise we struggle to know the full scale of the problem and we cannot measure how significant it is due to under reporting,” Lawrence said.
UK Home Office figures released last month revealed that racially and religiously aggravated abuse incidents registered a 41 per cent jump in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum in June.