Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan says protests are 'valid means of voicing grievances' but Black Lives Matters demonstrations risk second coronavirus spike

Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan has said any deaths from a second spike of coronavirus would be the responsibility of those who gathered in “mobs to protest” under the Black Lives Matter movement.

Writing in the Wakefield Express, Conservative MP Mr Khan said he was “disturbed” by the “brutal killing” of Mr Floyd in Minnesota on May 25.

Since his death demonstrations have erupted across the world demanding racial equality.

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Mr Khan said: “Mr Floyd’s revolting death is a reminder of the existence of racism and abuse of powers by authorities that should be protecting everyone.

Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan. Photo: Houses of ParliamentWakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan. Photo: Houses of Parliament
Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan. Photo: Houses of Parliament

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“Being of mixed race, I have been subjected to racism throughout my own life, I remember vividly being described as a ‘Paki’ and ‘Mongrel’ when I was a child and not fully understanding what that meant.”

But while he said protests were “a valid means of voicing our grievances in a democracy” which we should "hold dear and defend vigorously", he said “many who have attached themselves to the Black Lives Matter movement attack values we hold dear such as equality, rule of law, pluralism, and tolerance”.

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He added: “The agenda advocated is largely alien to the United Kingdom and has little regard for our cherished values”.

Mr Khan hit out at the vandalism of statues of Sir Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln, and violence against police officers.

And he warned those gathered were “the best biological vector for the coronavirus to spread further and drastically increases the chances of a second spike, or at the very least, a longer, more painful recovery”.

He added: “No thoughts have gone to the efforts of our heroic doctors and nurses, who have risked their lives to care for the sick and dying.

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“Any deaths from a second spike, and the economic and social damage wrought upon our nation, is the responsibility of those who gathered in these mobs to protest.”

Some demonstrations have been moved online to attempt to lessen the risk of spreading the virus, while others encouraged social distancing and the wearing of face masks.

A number of those involved in the protests have told reporters the fact those protesting were on the streets despite the risk showed the strength of feeling.

Last week Mr Khan admonished fellow MPs, including Labour’s Barry Gardiner, for joining the protests.

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Mr Gardiner had earlier posted a video of himself in the middle of the protesting crowd outside Westminster.

Mr Khan said they had “flagrantly flouted the law and joined the protests outside, boasting that they have broken social distancing measures”.

He said parliamentary staff and MPs were “placed at risk when there has been such advertised and self-publicised breaking of the law”.

And he added: “Vectors of the disease we are fighting, and which the Government are fighting, will be, if he returns to this House, allowed access to spread among the hardworking staff here.”

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Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laig said: “If any Member of this House is openly flouting the rules that we have asked every citizen of the United Kingdom to observe to keep the virus under control, and to protect the vulnerable and to protect the NHS, then that Member is putting not only himself or herself at risk, but everyone else at risk as well.”

Demonstrations have been largely peaceful in the UK, but dozens of police were injured in London and graffiti was also daubed on a statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square.

But peaceful elements have been a point for reflection for many, while Parliament held a minute’s silence in memory of Mr Floyd today.

NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens wrote to staff acknowledging Covid-19 having a “disproportionate impact” on black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) patients and colleagues.

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“And this in turn has brought into stark and urgent focus the layered impacts of years of disadvantage and inequality,” he added.

“And faster action is needed on the reality of the racism and discrimination experienced by many colleagues across the NHS.”


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