Home Secretary Amber Rudd has distanced herself from an extreme Hindu nationalist who was hosted in Parliament by a Tory MP.
Tapan Ghosh, who has called all Muslims ‘Jihadis’ and defended the genocide of the Rohingya community in Burma, was given star billing at an event in the House of Commons last week.
Conservative backbencher Bob Blackman refused on Wednesday to apologise for hosting the ‘Tolerating the Intolerant’ meeting, which was organised by the National Council of Hindu Temples (UK) to mark the Divali festival on October 18.
Ghosh’s presence sparked a strong backlash, given his inflammatory remarks in the past about Muslims, including calls for the UN to curb their birth rate globally and claims that British Muslim paedophiles have abused a million white children..
The Hindu nationalist, founder of the far-right Hindu Samhati party, also met English Defence League (EDL) founder Tommy Robinson this week (pictured above) and declared Islam was not a peaceful religion.
Rudd, along with fellow Cabinet ministers Priti Patel, Damian Green and Sajid Javid, attended a separate Divali event in the Commons at which Ghosh appeared.
But the Home Office has told HuffPost UK that Rudd was not present when Ghosh spoke at a later committee room event - where Ghosh was listed as ‘keynote speaker’ - and stressed that she did not agree with his views.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Home Secretary fundamentally disagrees with Mr Ghosh’s views on Islam.
“The Home Secretary accepted an invitation from the Hindu Forum of Britain to attend an event in Parliament last week to celebrate Diwali. She did not speak to Mr Ghosh and was not present when he spoke.”
Ghosh has sparked outrage for years for his provocative remarks about Muslims.
On Twitter he has said: “Backwardness is the most powerful ‘weapon’ of Islam. Rohingyas are glaring example.”
“Shame on Rohingya men. Shame on Islam. Seeing this reproduction rate, how can we blame the Myanmar Buddhists for driving them out?”
Ghosh himself tweeted photos from the earlier event which was attended by Rudd, Blackman, Patel, Green, Javid and former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers.
At the later event held in a Commons committee room, Ghosh suggested that the increase in India’s Muslim population was similar to the grooming of underage girls by Pakistanis in Britain.
“I see that you are very much worried about the issue of grooming. That means your wives, your daughters are threatened. But in our country our land is threatened, our very existence is threatened.”
In a statement, Tory backbencher Blackman said: “As the Chair of the APPG [All-Party Parliamentary Group] of Hindus I host a number of events in Parliament that discuss issues pertaining to Hindus in UK and the world.
“One of the most worrying trends in recent years has been grooming and forced conversions of Hindu minorities in the UK and countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan.
“In our commitment as a nation to fight extremism and radicalisation it is important to hear the voices of suppressed minorities. As for the event in question, the choice of speakers and the views expressed are entirely the NCHT’s who are the organisers.”
Ghosh appeared on a YouTube channel hosted by EDL founder Tommy Robinson yesterday.
Miqdaad Versi, of the Muslim Council of Britain, condemned their tie-up.
In its own statement, the NCHT said the core subject of the event was “the sustained targeting and abuse of Hindu and Sikh girls.. their selection on the basis of their religion and their subsequent physical and emotional abuse for the purposes of forced conversion to Islam”.
“This phenomenon has been reported here in the UK but has also been a major problem in India and most especially in West Bengal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Mr Ghosh has a great deal of support from the Bengali Muslim community in India who too find the targeting of vulnerable girls abhorrent and completely unIslamic.”
A Muslim Council of Britain spokesman said: “It is astounding that a Conservative MP seems to have welcomed to parliament with open arms a man who trades in propagating hatred against Muslims in India.
“Mr Ghosh is a founder of a far-right party in that country and in this year we have heard of shocking murders against Muslims, very often linked to the kind of anti-Muslim rhetoric emanating from people like Mr Ghosh.”
Earlier today, Labour MP Wes Streeting told the Middle East Eye website: “We don’t always know the background of everyone we meet or appear alongside as MPs, but I hope colleagues will clear this up by roundly condemning his remarks and ensuring that he isn’t welcomed to Parliament again.”