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Braverman’s racist tirade a threat to the UK’s internal security- Experts

UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s recent remarks stereotyping British men of Pakistani origin as among the top offenders in the British “grooming gangs” – men who entice teenagers and children by pretending to love and care for them and then abuse them – have had many security experts thinking whether such derogatory remarks made against a single minority community could pose a security threat to the country. 

Dr Robert Faure Walker, a postdoctoral fellow at University College London and the author of “Emergence of Extremism”, cautions in an interview with TRT World  that Braverman’s focus on British Pakistanis as the primary offenders in “grooming gangs” could potentially trigger social unrest in British society.  

“The idea of Pakistani grooming gangs is a racist trope adopted by the Far Right to sow division and hatred in British society,” Walker says, adding that the adoption of this idea by the UK Home Secretary is making British society less safe. 

He argues that such “racist and Islamophobic narratives led to the dangerous and divisive spread of counterterrorism policies through British society over the last decade.” 

The draconian Prevent programme, which enabled mass surveillance and gave unbridled powers to local authorities to pick anyone on a mere suspicion, is one of the worst offshoots of the UK’s counterterrorism policy. 

British society is diverse, comprising different religious and ethnic make-up. To single out one specific group, as Braverman did, reveals a disturbing side of the UK Home Secretary. 

John Holmwood, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Nottingham and the co-author of “Countering Extremism in British Schools?”, describes her remarks as “inflammatory and one-sided,” indicating that they are “part of a pattern which also includes a failure to condemn demonstrations outside hotels, where false accusations of abuse by young Muslim men were also made.”

“This contributes to community tensions and an increase in hate crimes directed toward Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim,” Holmwood says. 

The rising hate crimes, racism, discrimination and anti-Islam discourse have been serious internal security issues for the UK for a long time. From communal tensions between various religious and ethnic groups to extreme cases of Far-Right terrorist attacks, British society is immune to witnessing violent flare-ups every now and then.       

Institutional Crisis

Experts in Britain believe that Braverman’s comments reveal a serious institutional crisis threatening the UK’s internal security. As Braverman scapegoated the British Pakistani men for a crime that cannot be attributed to one community, critics say that it’s worrisome that the Metropolitan police is headed by a woman with such problematic views. 

A recent landmark investigation or Casey Report has found the Met police guilty of “institutional racism” as well as misogyny and gender bias.  

Professor Walker from UCL highlights that compared to white British and other ethnic groups British Pakistani men are not overrepresented in grooming gangs. 

Walker refers to a Home Office report compiled in 2020, which suggests that a majority of offenders of “group-based child exploitation” are “most commonly white”.

Professor Holmwood indicates that Braverman’s claim that the police fail to act because people are afraid of being called racist and unwilling to report their concerns are false. 

Holmwood says the Casey Report shows that issues of misogyny, homophobia and racism found in the Metropolitan police force are “likely to be found in other forces and are also likely to be a major part of the reason why the systematic exploitation of young people associated with the care system can go unchallenged.” 

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