Clown with evil intent
His calculated remarks about burqas fuel the flames at a dangerous time for ethnic minorities
I remember the first time I was called “Paki”. It was 1978 at primary school in Ealing, west London, now my constituency. I was quite startled. My playground tormentor had to explain the etymology of the term to me. I retorted:“Actually, East Pakistan has been liberated into Bangladesh since 1971; it’s an independent country”, which shut him up.
I was born in Hammersmith the year after Bangladeshi independence and recall the racism of old. In those days, “the host community” saw the likes of me and the two kids in our school with turbans (brothers) as “Asian” – the shorthand “Paki” overlooking different nationalities. The subtitles of religion had not reared their head. The Satanic Verses and 9/11 changed that when the badge “Don’t freak, I’m a Sikh” was produced, signalling a disaggregation of Asians. Race broke down into religion.