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Sikh MP slams Boris Johnson over 'racist remarks' against Muslim women

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British Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi urged the UK Prime Minister to apologise for comments he made comparing veil-wearing Muslim women to "bank robbers" and "letterboxes".

A British Labour MP has passionately condemned UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for comments he made describing Muslim women as looking like "bank robbers" and "letterboxes" in an article.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who was the first turbaned Sikh MP in the House of Commons, elicited applause from Parliament's House of Commons on Thursday when he questioned the PM on when he would apologise for the statements, which he made in a 2018 Daily Telegraph article.

"For those of us, from a young age, have had to endure and face up to being called names such as towel head, or Taliban, or coming from bongo bongo land, we can appreciate very well the hurt and pain felt by already vulnerable Muslim women when they are described as looking like bank robbers and letterboxes," Mr Dhesi said during a session of Prime Minister's Questions.

"So rather than hide behind sham and whitewash investigations, when will the prime minister finally apologise for his derogatory and racist remarks ... which have led to a spike in hate crime?"

In response to the question, Mr Johnson defended his party as having the "most diverse cabinet in the history of this country" and turned the table on Labour, who he said should apologise for anti-semitism within their party.

“If he took the trouble to read the article in question he would see that it was a strong liberal defence, as he began his question by saying, of everybody’s right to wear whatever they want in this country," Mr Johnson said.

"I speak as somebody who is not only proud to have Muslim ancestors … but to be related to Sikhs such as himself."

According to a report from Tell MAMA - a UK group that monitors incidents of Islamaphobia - anti-Muslim incidents increased in the week following Mr Johnson's comments.

Mr Dhesi also urged the Prime Minister to commit to an inquiry into Islamaphobia within the Conservative Party, which he said had been promised on national television.

The Muslim Council of Britain tweeted in support of Mr Dhesi, exclaiming that it was great to see support in the House for the statements. 

The comments come as British MPs voted against Mr Johnson's call to hold a general election on 15 October to break the Brexit deadlock.

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