Brexit leaders too slow to condemn this racism and xenophobia says Leeds imam

A PROMINENT West Yorkshire imam has said it is 'upsetting and disturbing' that Leave campaign leaders have been slow to condemn xenophobic and racially-motivated incidents across the UK in the wake of the EU referendum.

David Cameron with imam Qari Asim in Leeds earlier this year
David Cameron with imam Qari Asim in Leeds earlier this year

Qari Asim, the senior imam at the Makkah Mosque in Leeds, said: “As an independent member of the Government’s anti-Muslim hatred working group, I am deeply concerned about the rise of racial and religiously-motivated incidents against all communities, in particular Muslims.

“Anti-Muslim hate monitoring group Tell MAMA reports 326% increase in incidents against Muslims in 2015 - and warns Brexit could make it worse.

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“What has been most upsetting and disturbing is that there have been no immediate statements from Leave campaign leaders condemning such xenophobic and racially-motivated incidents.”

He spoke as police launched a hate crime inquiry after a BBC radio presenter was racially abused in the street by a passing cyclist.

BBC Coventry and Warwickshire breakfast show host Trish Adudu was subjected to racist comments on Wednesday shortly after witnessing a man of Asian appearance being told to “go home”.

Earlier this week, another BBC presenter, Yorkshire Post theatre critic Nick Ahad, wrote that he had been the victim of a similar incident, in Saltaire near Bradford, on the day MP Jo Cox was killed.

Mr Ahad, who presents a show on BBC Radio Leeds, said: “It’s the kind of event that has happened to me before, but not for a long time.”

Mr Asim said he respect the result of the referendum and that many people had concerns about immigration which needed to be addressed.

He said: “I am not oblivious to the fact that a lack of appropriate immigration control has been a challenge for our country for quite some time.

“I know that many skilled labourers feel they are in constant competition with migrants, who they perceive to suppress wages and deprive them of work. I am aware of many people in my neighbourhood who feel they have lost control over the future of their country, but the solution is not to become intolerant, racist or violent towards other communities.”

He added: “There is no doubt that the repercussions of this historic vote will be felt for many years, and potentially decades, to come.

“But this decision of over 17 million people must be respected and we must remain positive.

“Now is not the time for fall outs. Unity, stability, reconciliation and tackling of inequality and bigotry must be our priorities post-Brexit.”