This week, the Downing Street spokesperson told CNN: “At Friday’s press conference the Prime Minister apologized to all those who could not celebrate Eid in the way they had wished, and thanked the work of mosques and imams in getting the message out about the importance of following safety guidance.
“And he set out in his Eid message that he is hugely grateful to the Muslim community for their efforts and sacrifices throughout this pandemic.”
, a group which monitors anti-Muslim incidents in the UK, has called on Whittaker to apologize for his comments.
“To single out one community this way is wholly wrong, stigmatizing and unbecoming of an MP,” the group said in a statement.
Following the controversy, Whittaker said his evidence was based on data from local officials at Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire.
“Calderdale Council has not only identified a causal correlation between the locations of a high concentration of our ethnic Asian residents and that of COVID 19 infections, but has also formed the opinion that behaviour in these areas needs to be addressed through engagement in order to reduce the infection rate in these communities,” Whittaker said in a statement on his website
“In an age where authenticity is a behaviour scarcely exhibited by public figures, I am glad that I have chosen open, honest and frank discussion over political expediency and … I make no apology for my comments,” he added.
Tell MAMA director Iman Atta told CNN that far-right extremists had been blaming Muslims for the pandemic since the beginning of the UK’s lockdown in March.
“In March, April, May, we saw a lot of conspiracy theories floating around,” she said. “The far right were sharing photos of Muslims congregating and flouting the rules at mosques which were, in reality, shut down and not functioning. The photos were from last year,” she said.
“And they have spread rumors online about how BAME communities are the ones spreading the virus, so [people] should not be interacting with them.”
Atta’s findings are echoed by those of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which represents several UK mosques and Muslim organizations.
Earlier in the lockdown “there were theories spreading that Muslims would gather secretly during Ramadan, that mosques were secretly open — none of that was true and there was no evidence,” Zainab Gulamali, a spokesperson for the organization, told CNN.
Gulamali added that she was disappointed that Johnson and his Conservative Party colleagues had failed to condemn Whittaker’s comments on BAME people.