Sikh MP joins Westminster anti-Semitism group
A British Sikh MP has been recruited to the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism and Hate Crime.
Parmjit Dhanda, formerly the government’s community cohesion minister, published its One Year On report in May following an all-parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism. It collected together points of progress and action plans from eight government departments.
Mr Dhanda no longer holds government office but the parliamentary group chairman, John Mann, another Labour MP, said his insight, thoughts and perceptions would bring a unique perspective to the group’s work.
When he presented the report, Mr Dhanda underlined his commitment to “practical, effective action to stamp out anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it occurs.”
The government intended increasing the number of hate crimes brought to prosecution, tackling anti-Semitism on university campuses and challenging hate crime and extremism on the internet, he said.
He told the Jerusalem Post: “I think it’s important that people of all races and of all faiths condemn anti-Semitism, and I am committed to do that in as public a forum as possible.”
As minister for community cohesion, Mr Dhanda questioned Norman Tebbit’s much publicised ‘cricket test’ view of what it means to be English.
In 1992, Norman – now Lord – Tebbit suggested that immigrants and their children could not be considered loyal to Britain until they supported the England cricket team. He said a large proportion of Britain’s Asian population failed the test, asking: “Which side do they cheer for?”
Mr Dhanda said he was born in the West Midlands, represented Gloucester in parliament, and supported Liverpool football club in the North-West, but his parents were from Indian and he unashamedly failed the Norman Tebbit cricket test by supporting India against England at cricket.
“But,” he suggested, “perhaps that is representative of what it means to be British in the here and now.”
In recent years statistics on national identity published by the Office for National Statistics reveal that a majority of black and Asian people in Britain see themselves as British.
In 2004, four out of every five people from the black Caribbean community described their national identity as British, English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish. Three-quarters of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi identified themselves in the same way.
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