The Foreign Office (FO) on Wednesday took exception to British Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s “discriminatory and xenophobic” remarks on Pakistani men, saying that they painted a “misleading picture”.
A day earlier, Braverman said that British-Pakistani men “hold cultural values at odds with British values”.
During a Sky News interview about plans to tackle child sexual abuse, she spoke about “the predominance of British-Pakistani males who hold cultural values totally at odds with British values”.
“[British-Pakistani men] see women in a demeaned, illegitimate way, and pursue an outdated and frankly heinous approach to the way we behave,” Braverman commented after she was informed that a Home Office report in 2020 concluded that most child sexual abuse gangs are made up of white men under the age of 30, and that there was not enough evidence to suggest members of grooming gangs were disproportionately more likely to be Asian or black.
Braverman instead pointed to reports from Rotherham, which was rocked by a child sexual exploitation scandal in which five British-Pakistani men were convicted of grooming, raping and exploiting young girls. The home secretary also cited a 2015 report penned by Dame Louise Casey CB, which ironically noted how the British-Pakistani community had been “harmed by association” in the scandal.
Her comments were largely criticised by political commentators and children’s charities as “inflammatory” and akin to initiating “race wars”.
Responding to Braverman’s remarks in a press briefing today, FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said the remarks painted a “highly misleading picture signalling the intent to target and treat British Pakistanis differently”.
Baloch stated that the UK home secretary had “erroneously branded criminal behaviour of some individuals as a representation of the entire community”.
“She fails to take note of the systemic racism and ghettoisation of communities and omits to recognize the tremendous cultural, economic and political contributions that British Pakistanis continue to make in British society,” she added.
Concerns over violence against Muslims in India
Baloch also expressed Pakistan’s “deep concerns” over the “alarming rise” in violence against Muslims in India.
Communal riots broke out in several states of the neighbouring country last week during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami, which commemorates the birth of the Hindu deity Ram.
More than a dozen people were injured after clashes between Hindus and Muslims were reported in at least nine states of India. Local media said vehicles, houses as well as shops were set on fire.
In her briefing today, the FO spokesperson said: “The terrifying rise in Islamophobic and hateful acts against Muslims in India is a consequence of the pursuit of a majoritarian Hindutva agenda and anti-Islam and anti-Muslim rhetoric rife in Indian politics.”
She also called on India to take “demonstrable steps” to curb the rising tide of Islamophobia, to provide protection to Muslims for practising their faith and account for those responsible for such hateful acts.
Baloch also welcomed the statement from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressing concern about anti-Muslim incidents in India and urging the country to “take firm action against the extremists for fomenting communal violence and hatred against Muslims”.
The OIC statement said it had followed the events during the Ram Navami processions with “deep concern” and its general secretariat “denounces such provocative acts of violence and vandalism which are a vivid manifestation of mounting Islamophobia and systemic targeting of the Muslim community in India”.