Tanmanjeet Dhesi, Britain’s first MP to wear a turban, has described the racist attacks he has experienced throughout his life in the UK as a Sikh. The Labour politician became the MP for Slough in 2017, the town in which he was born and raised to Indian parents.
Speaking to former Labour MP-turned-GB News host Gloria De Piero, he stated that “When I grew up, somebody – one of my so-called classmates – thought it’d be very funny to try and pull off my turban. I was in tears and trying to come to terms with that as a child, and that is unfortunately the experience for many. After the 9/11 attacks, the level of racism towards people, especially with turbans like me or with beards, increased substantially.” “As he was queuing up outside Parliament, somebody filled with so much hatred made disparaging remarks to him, Islamophobic remarks to him, saying ‘go back to your country’,” he MP recounted.
“He also, unfortunately, also tried to pull off his turban.” Dhesi admitted he had felt shame with the attack happening just outside Parliament, adding: “What image is that going to make of our country as he goes back to India?”
The MP, who was appointed Shadow Minister for the Railways, said he had been likened to the Taliban for the past couple of decades, due to the colour of his skin and his choice to wear a turban. Members of the Sikh faith had been shot in the US following the September 11 terror attacks due to hatred, he said, hatred which is “instilled in so many people across not only North American, but Europe too.” Dhesi said it was a privilege to be the first turban-wearing Sikh to sit in British Parliament – and indeed, European Parliament too – but with the title came an enormous sense of responsibility to represent the community which make up some one per cent of the population.
(By Zaina Alibhai, Independent, UK)