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31 Jul, 2020 16:17

Tory MP is RIGHT to query Britain’s BAME communities’ response to lockdown, and PC critics are WRONG to label him racist

Tory MP is RIGHT to query Britain’s BAME communities’ response to lockdown, and PC critics are WRONG to label him racist

As local lockdowns came into effect on eve of a holy day in Islam, MP Craig Whittaker ran into a race storm by suggesting BAME people are flouting distancing rules. Lives are at risk, so why the outrage at a valid point?

It has taken one bold Conservative MP to dare suggest out loud what many had already considered, that the UK’s Muslim and BAME communities are not taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously.

Of course, Tory Craig Whittaker was immediately accused of racism by his opponents, but for an MP whose Calder Valley constituency is one of those across the north of England subject to the latest local lockdown, he is perfectly entitled to make the claim that Muslim communities living in his area are failing to follow social-distancing guidelines.

A spike in Covid-19 cases has seen the government introduce immediate lockdown measures in some areas across northern England, which came into effect from midnight last night.

The new rules ban people in the restricted areas from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens, following a spike in virus cases, but it’s the timing that is key, because they were announced just a couple of hours before Muslims were due to celebrate the feast of Eid al-Adha, which begins today.

Also on rt.com Covid-19 death rates in England HIGHER among ethnic minorities – Public Health England report

Whittaker’s measured response in a radio interview to the introduction of the new rules was not inflammatory in the least.

If you look at the areas where we’ve seen rises and cases, the vast majority – not by any stretch of the imagination all areas – but it is the BAME communities that are not taking this seriously enough,” he said.

Unsurprisingly, the first, totally over-the-top response on Twitter –where else?– came right on cue from shadow Women and Equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova. “Disgraceful and overt racism from this Tory MP blaming Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, the very people whose lives and livelihoods have been the worst hit by Covid-19,” she tweeted.

Er, well, isn’t that Mr Whittaker’s point? Maybe the communities he’s referring to have been hit disproportionately because they are ignoring the social-distancing rules observed by others. To suggest as much is not racist. So please, Ms de Cordova, do grow up.

In my own experience, a loud, very well-attended house party held by my neighbours greeted the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr at the conclusion of Ramadan, which was on May 24 this year.

At that time, although draconian lockdown measures were still in place across Britain and enforceable by law, the restrictions that forbade large celebrations were simply ignored in my neck of the woods by some members of the BAME community.

That was despite a personal thanks made from Health Secretary Matt Hancock for the sacrifices of those who would safely celebrate the month-long Ramadan, during his Downing Street press conference on April 23.

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Now, when he issues a similar request that Eid al-Adha, which starts today, is enjoyed safely in lockdown areas as well as elsewhere, all hell breaks loose, despite an accompanying apology: “My heart goes out to the Muslim communities in these areas because I know how important the Eid celebrations are.” 

No, not good enough for some: Hancock is a racist, anti-Muslim party pooper.

The Muslim Council of Britain also took aim, with secretary general Harun Khan arguing that the timing of the imposition of the new rules was like announcing the cancellation of Christmas on Christmas Eve.

Why is it that any discussion of cultural differences draws such fire?

Even the most competent, well-intentioned and balanced public official daring to infer that one group’s behaviour is somehow not in the best interests of the wider community immediately causes a race storm from which the only retreat is abject apology, while the identity-obsessed liberals shout louder and louder...RACIST!

That is what, depressingly, passes for debate in the public realm these days.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.