MP: I’m facing serious death threats and torrent of Islamophobic abuse

A Labour MP said she is facing a “heightened risk” to her safety, including “serious death threats” and threats to “rip off” her hijab in public.

Apsana Begum, who is a Muslim, raised her personal experiences as she criticised the Government for not using the King’s Speech to take action against Islamophobia.

The MP for Poplar and Limehouse said the situation is “escalating” and being exacerbated by those trying to “capitalise on current events by spreading their hate and division”.

Ms Begum earlier said people in her constituency are “alarmed and appalled at the disregard for Palestinian life” demonstrated in recent weeks.

She called for a ceasefire from both sides in Gaza – Israel and Hamas – and the release of hostages.

Speaking during the King’s Speech debate in the Commons, Ms Begum said: “I was also disappointed to see that the King’s Speech did not indicate that the Government will finally recognise Islamophobia nor take measures to address the soaring level of hate crimes against Muslims.

“Indeed, the King’s Speech did not even mention that it is currently Islamophobia Awareness Month and nor did the Prime Minister mention it in his contributions today.

“I am currently facing death threats and a torrent of Islamophobic and misogynistic abuse. In fact I’ve received such abuse since being elected, since putting myself forward as a candidate for elections and receive comments including, and I quote, ‘vile and filthy religion, importing vile and filthy creatures like Apsana Begum’.

“The situation is escalating, not least exacerbated by those trying to capitalise on current events by spreading their hate and division.

“I am now facing a heightened risk to my safety with serious death threats, threats to kidnap me, threats of sexual violence and threats about ripping off my hijab in public. It goes on and on.

“Following the murder of Jo Cox MP and Sir David Amess MP, the Jo Cox Foundations has raised, and I quote, ‘abuse and intimidation of elected representatives, including violence towards them, is a growing threat to democracy’.

“They highlight that abuse can make elected representatives feel they need to step down and put potential future candidates off standing altogether, with women, people from ethnic minority backgrounds and those with disabilities suffering a disproportionate level of this behaviour.

“But as we know the problem is widespread and endemic.

“Every single day people of Muslim backgrounds like me face discrimination and prejudice, the prevalence of negative stereotypes, harassment and hate crimes are only part of a whole structure of discrimination.

“Muslims are also the most economically disadvantaged faith group in the UK, with some reports showing that half of British Muslims face poverty and deprivation.

“At the same time we face institutionalised Islamophobia.”