Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Britain’s first turbaned Sikh MP, Wednesday demanded an apology from Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his “derogatory, racist remarks” against Muslim women in the past.
“Mr Speaker, if I decide to wear a turban or you decide to wear a cross, or he decides to wear a kippah or a skullcap, or she decides to wear a hijab or a burqa, does that mean that it is open season for Right Honourable Members of this House to make derogatory and divisive remarks about our appearance?” Dhesi said, during the Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons.
If you have ever experienced racism or discrimination, you can appreciate full well the hurt and pain felt by Muslim women, who were singled out by this divisive Prime Minister. It’s high time he apologised for his derogatory and racist remarks! 1/2 pic.twitter.com/t6G56coA3U
— Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP (@TanDhesi) September 4, 2019
“For those of us who, from a young age, have had to endure and fact 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,” Dhesi said.
“When will the Prime Minister finally apologise for his derogatory and racist remarks?” Dhesi said, to thunderous applause from fellow Opposition Labour party MPs. “Racist remarks which have led to a spike in hate crime.”
“And given the increasing prevalence of such incidents within his party, when will the Prime Minister finally order an inquiry into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party, something which he and his Chancellor promised on national television,” he added.
In his speech, Dhesi was referring to Johnson’s column in The Daily Telegraph last year, in which he had written: “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.”
Earlier this week, monitoring group Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) has published research to show that Islamophobic incidents rose by 375 per cent in the week after Johnson published The Daily Telegraph column, reported news agency PTI.
Boris Johnson responds to Sikh MP
Johnson, following the speech, claimed Dhesi’s comments were out of context, and that he had the “most diverse Cabinet” in the history of Britain.
“I speak as somebody who is proud not only to have Muslim ancestors, but to be related to Sikhs like him. I am also proud to say that, under this government, we have the most diverse Cabinet in the history of this country. We truly reflect modern Britain,” the Prime Minister was quoted as saying by PTI.
Johnson’s estranged wife Marina Wheeler is of Sikh origin.