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Mend Statement on the Open Letter by Sikh and Hindu Organisations: High on Prejudice, Low on Evidence

Mend Statement on the Open Letter by Sikh and Hindu Organisations: High on Prejudice, Low on Evidence

Categories: Latest News

Thursday April 20 2023

The Network of Sikh Organisations, alongside other controversial Sikh and Hindu organisations, published a joint open letter to the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, endorsing her usage of the largely discredited and contentious phrase “Pakistani grooming gangs”.

A central theme of the letter revolves around the generalised narrative that Pakistani Muslims groom white, Sikh and Hindu girls because they are non-Muslim. In other words, it is religiously motivated. However, such a narrative lacks any credible evidence and is predicated mainly on a speculative Islamophobic narrative regarding child sexual exploitation (CSE). This has been comprehensively refuted by Ms Braverman’s own Home Office departmental research that showed that most CSE offenders were white men and concluded,it is not possible to draw any conclusions as to whether some ethnicities have a greater involvement in group-based offending compared with others.”

As far as victims of so-called grooming gangs are concerned, these are also not exclusively non-Muslim. In a detailed report, the Muslim Women’s Network has highlighted the often-overlooked cases of CSE involving Muslim victims, refuting the narrative that victims are uniquely non-Muslim.

Meanwhile, the letter specifically references a case in Leicester in which a Sikh girl was abused by what they described in a previous statement as “men with mainly Muslim names” above a restaurant called the Moghul Durbar. Ironically, the letter fails to disclose that two of the men convicted had South Asian non-Muslim sounding names, specifically, Bharat Modhwadia and Chandresh Mistry. Had they done so, the very fundamental assertion of the letter that Muslim men are targeting non-Muslim girls, and in this case, a Sikh girl, because they are non-Muslim, would have been undermined.

Concerningly, however, the letter’s Islamophobic assertions are no surprise given the list of signatories. One such signatory is Vinod Popat from the Hindutva symphathising organisation, British Hindu Voice, who have published biased anti-Muslim material on their platform. Likewise, Anil Bhanot of the Hindu Council UK is a self-described “Hindutva hardliner” who has previously been exposed for making several Islamophobic statements on his Twitter page. Furthermore, the lead signatory, Lord Singh of Wimbledon , has consistently expressed his aversion to a legal definition of Islamophobia and has even branded it an “emotive” term, whilst falsely asserting “there is no common statistical basis whatsoever suggesting that members of any one faith suffer more discrimination than others.” Lord Singh thus appears to be ignorant of Home Office data that for many years has shown that Muslims are more likely to be victims of religious hate crime than other religious groups; for 2021/22, they comprised 42% of all religious hate crime victims.

Consequently, the letters’ endorsement by such signatories calls into question the sincerity of its intention.

Ultimately, MEND supports tackling the heinous crimes of CSE and better helping the victims; however, it needs to be done sensitively without framing it as an ethnoreligious issue, thereby maligning a whole minority community. We thus call upon government ministers, politicians and journalists to stop engaging in dog-whistle politics and cease using the terms ‘Pakistani’, ‘Muslim’ or ‘Asian grooming gangs’. We should focus on the perpetrators of such heinous crimes, whatever their skin colour, race, or religion.


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