Politics

Sikh MP Speaks Out About ‘Taliban’ Jibes And Racist Attacks Outside Parliament

Joe Giddens – PA Images via Getty Images

Tan Dhesi, Labour Party MP for Slough

A Sikh MP has spoken out about the “Taliban” jibes he faces and how a visitor was attacked outside parliament for wearing a turban. 

Tanmanjeet Dhesi, who is Britain’s first turban-wearing MP, said racism was a “common experience” for many people from ethnic minorities. 

He told Gloria De Piero on GB News he had been called “Taliban” over the last couple of decades, adding: “After the 9/11 attacks – the level of racism towards people, especially with turbans like me, or with beards, that increased substantially. 

“In the US – our close friend and allies – there, Sikhs were shot dead, just because they had a turban and beard. 

“People made Islamophobic remarks, calling them the Taliban, and then more than one individual was shot dead, because of that hatred – which is unfortunately instilled in so many people across not only North America, but Europe too.”

He said people could not imagine the impact the Taliban and Mujahideen had on Sikhs in Afghanistan who faced “significant persecution”. 

The MP for Slough added: “Don’t think that minorities like the Sikhs or Hindus see the Taliban as some sort of heroes. They have faced the persecution and discrimination from those religious extremists.”

He has previously spoken out about how children tried to tear his turban off when he was at school, but warned it was a “similar experience” for many.

Dhesi described how an Indian guest, who came to visit him in the House of Commons to discuss the climate crisis, faced the same abuse. 

The Labour MP added: “As he was queueing up outside parliament – somebody, filled with so much hatred, went along and disparaging remarks to him, Islamophobic remarks to him, saying ‘go back to your country’, and so on. 

“He also, unfortunately, also tried to pull off his turban. While I was trying to console him – and it was lucky the police were there, who caught it on CCTV – I just felt so shameful, that this had happened outside our parliament.

“What image is that going to make of our country, as he goes back to Punjab, as he goes back to India? And unfortunately, it made news within the Sikh media – that this had happened outside the House of Commons, for which people have a great and higher regard – thinking of it as the mother of all parliaments.”

He said the incident demonstrated how common the problem was and how we need to tackle racism “head on”.

The interview is due to be aired on Monday at 12.40pm.


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