London, UK: Ever since 9/11 and the term Islamophobia was invented, public bodies and the media in the UK have been reluctant to call a spade a spade. For reasons of excessive political correctness and possible claims of racism, the broader term “Asian” has been and continues to be incorrectly used although it is inappropriate.
The report by Professor Alexis Jay on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham has made clear that the majority of known perpetrators were of Pakistani heritage. Yet the police and council workers downplayed the ethnic dimension, an approach that Professor Jay describes as ‘ill-judged’ and they failed to tackle such appalling crimes.
Jahangir Akhtar, the former deputy leader of the council, has been accused in the report of naivety and potentially “ignoring a politically inconvenient truth” by insisting there was not a deep-rooted problem of Pakistani-heritage perpetrators. Jay states he was one of the elected members who said they thought the criminal convictions in 2010 were “a one-off, isolated case.” Police told the inquiry that some influential Pakistani Councillors in Rotherham acted as barriers to communication on grooming issues.
Organisations like the Sikh Federation (UK) have been campaigning for the term “Asian” to be abandoned for over a decade. The Sikh campaign for proper “identification” initially came to the fore, following the cases of attacks on turban wearing Sikhs through what became popularly known as “mistaken identity” following 9/11. However, it has been frustrating for far too long for Sikhs and others who might be seen as “Asians” that virtually every time a negative story appeared in the press, often involving Muslims, the media and those in positions of authority preferred to use the term “Asian.”
The widespread outrage following Professor Jay’s report has again highlighted the problem with the non-specific term Asian.
Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:
“It is time for the media, police, local authorities and others to abandon political correctness and stop using the throwaway term “Asian.” If the ethnic/religious background is known to be a significant factor in any form of criminal activity or organised abuse it must be identified, exposed, and more importantly be tackled head on.
Those in positions of responsibility must call a spade a spade if it means fewer children will be exploited and not fear being called Islamophobic or racist. The rights of the victims must come before the perpetrators.”