MEND calls out Craig Whittaker’s Islamophobic comments
Categories: Latest News
Tuesday August 04 2020
In a recent interview, Craig Whittaker, Conservative MP for Calder Valley in West Yorkshire, stated that there are “sections of our community that are just not taking the pandemic seriously”. When pressed as to whether he was referring to Muslim communities, Whittaker responded: “Of course.”
However, Whittaker’s accusation of BAME and Muslim communities “not taking the pandemic seriously” is unfounded, prejudicial, and myopic, thus distorting the realities of the current crisis and scapegoating minority communities.
Indeed, recent times have seen:
- Unacceptable crowding at beaches, house parties, and pubs;
- Scandals involving Dominic Cummings breaking lockdown rules;
- Thousands lining the streets for the funeral of Jack Charlton;
- Concerns over large events, such as Cheltenham Festival.
Moreover, health officials have recently revealed that in areas such as Trafford younger middle-class residents are at the centre of recent rises in cases, with 80% of new infections over the past week being found amongst white communities.
Thus, when it comes to addressing violations of government guidelines, there must be consistency in the way every segment of society is held to account. As such, Whittaker should re-examine his commitment to fully representing the interests of all of his constituents in a balanced manner.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that Whittaker has not provided any evidence for his claims, any analysis of data must take socio-economic conditions into full consideration. As but one example, Muslims are known to suffer from the highest levels of overcrowding, meaning that a single case within a Muslim household is far more likely to spread to others due to the large number of people within the same household, regardless of how well the Government advice may be adhered to.
At the same time, stereotypes, conspiracies, and unfounded accusations distract from the valuable contributions that BAME and Muslim communities have made throughout the pandemic.
The BAME community are an essential part of the NHS:
- BAME doctors represent 41% of the medical workforce and BAME staff make up roughly 20% of the overall NHS workforce. 58.6% of all senior doctors are BAME.
- Muslims account for roughly 5% of the UK population, but approximately 17% of our doctors.
- The overrepresentation of minorities within the profession is reflected in the disproportionate number of tragic deaths of BAME NHS workers throughout the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Muslim individuals and organisations have been pivotal in supporting their local communities in the North of England throughout the crisis:
- The Muslim charity in Kirklees, Purpose of Life, have provided food parcels and COVID related information to those who are homeless, vulnerable, or self-isolating.
- The Period Project in Manchester have continued delivering sanitary wear to local organisations, community hubs, and food banks, in order to help women and girls struggling to access menstrual products.
- Muslim volunteers have partnered with Huddersfield Community First to deliver food, medicine, and other supplies to local people in need.
- Muslim volunteers in Bolton have supported Homeless Aid UK to provide meals for 600 to 700 homeless people each week.
Consequently, MEND has written to Craig Whittaker, MP, asking him to:
- Apologise and retract his statements;
- Accept our offer to attend private diversity awareness training so he may consider the realities surrounding his remarks and their subsequent implications.
We also call upon the Conservative party to launch an investigation into his comments and remove the party whip from Mr Whittaker while the investigation is ongoing.