A conservative MP was accused of making unfounded allegations after claiming that the “overwhelming majority” of people who violated the rules of blocking the coronavirus came from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, particularly those of Muslim origin.
Craig Whittaker, a Calder Valley, West Yorkshire MP since 2010, told LBC radio that “there were sections of our community that didn’t take the pandemic seriously.”
Asked if he meant the Muslim community by this, Whittaker said: “Of course. If you look at the areas where we have seen it arise, and the cases, the vast majority – not for every stretch of the imagination in all areas – are the BME communities that are not taking it seriously enough. “
Boris Johnson, when asked about a coronavirus press conference on Downing Street if he agreed with Whittaker’s comments, did not move away from them, saying only that “it was up to the whole country to get this right.”
“I think it is up to all of us in the government to make sure that the message is heard loud and clear by everyone across the country and that everyone respects the leadership,” said the Prime Minister, thanking the mosques and imams for spreading the message about social distancing. .
Whittaker’s constituency is among the areas affected by the new overnight blocking rules that prevent people from meeting other people in homes or gardens. The announcement came before Eid, but Whittaker said the violation of the rules has nothing to do with the Muslim celebration.
“What it is, and what I saw in my constituency, is that we have areas of our community, sections of our community, that are not taking the pandemic seriously.”
Asked if he accepted that his comments could lead to criticism, the deputy replied: “Absolutely. But I challenged our local leaders for two weeks – in fact three weeks – by asking what we are doing to target these areas, to let people know that this is still a very serious problem. And until people take it seriously, then we won’t get rid of this pandemic.
“It’s not just the Asian community in our area. We also have multiple high occupancy areas that are located in the same boat. When you have multiple families living in one family, that doesn’t have to be specifically the Asian community, but that’s the biggest proportion. “
He added: “Look at all the areas [affected by local lockdowns]: we have Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees. Bradford in particular and Kirklees have two of West Yorkshire’s largest populations. “