LONDON — Scores of British Pakistanis wrote letters to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to complain about the “racist, unacceptable and inflammatory” comments made recently by UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman against Pakistani men.
Doctors, healthcare workers, entrepreneurs, CEOs and founders wrote multiple letters signed by dozens of associations and individuals to Mr Sunak, demanding an apology from Ms Braverman.
Last week, Ms Braverman came under fire after she repeatedly spoke about “the predominance of British-Pakistani males who hold cultural values totally at odds with British values”.
In an interview to Sky News, she said that British Pakistani men “see women in a demeaned, illegitimate way, and pursue an outdated and frankly heinous approach to the way we behave”.
The programme host also highlighted the home secretary’s comments that “vulnerable white girls are being targeted by British Pakistani grooming gangs”, and people have been “turning a blind eye out of political correctness”.
Her comments triggered intense criticism on social media, where both Pakistani origin and non-Pakistani commentators called her out for discrimination and politicising a serious issue.
A letter signed by medical professionals read: “It is unacceptable for the home secretary to use inflammatory and divisive rhetoric that is sensationalist and contradicts her own department’s evidence. Critically, it enables these heinous crimes to continue by focusing on political exhibitionism instead of implementing impactful action that is evidence-based and requires a whole system response rather than singling out one particular ethnic group.”
The signatories also included medical professionals registered with various associations.
British Pakistan Foundation also penned an open letter to the prime minister. “We are writing to you to share our deep concern and disappointment at the home secretary’s recent comments and for you not speaking out against them. These comments singled out only the involvement of British Pakistani males in so-called ‘grooming gangs’ and ‘holding cultural values totally at odds with British values’,” it said.
Muslim associations also joined the criticism against Ms Braverman, penning a letter to 10 Downing Street in which the home secretary’s words were criticised.
“These remarks and others were made by the home secretary without caveats and were not limited to those convicted of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) but instead stereotyped and targeted an entire community,” the Muslim associations said, drawing attention to hate-crimes that have taken place against Muslims in the past.
“Hate crime in the UK is on the rise with recent high-profile attacks in Dover and Knowsley following shortly after incendiary language from Ministers. In the past, unfounded rhetoric has had real world consequences.
In 2019, a far-right terrorist in Christchurch, New Zealand, wrote ‘for Rotherham’ on his ammunition before opening fire at a mosque killing 51 people. In 2020, false rumours about ‘grooming’ in Barrow led to far-right harassment of Asians in the town. The home secretary’s comment encourages the likelihood of such further attacks.“
British politician and lawyer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said Ms Braverman is resorting to a “lazy narrative” about British Pakistani men to stoke division and win votes.
According to a BBC report, the Home Office clarified that she was talking about three of the most notorious grooming gang cases, from Rochdale, Rotherham and Telford. But many pointed out that the damage had been done.
“Two days in from Braverman’s comments the racists are out. Feels like post 9/11 and 7/7. British Pakistanis such as me will be required to defend and explain heinous crimes. We never ask that of the majority of the population regards most cases of sexual abuse. We need allies,” writer and presenter Adil Ray said on Twitter.