LONDON: Tapan Ghosh, a Hindu-nationalist known for expressing extreme anti-Muslim sentiment, has sparked outrage after being hosted in the British Parliament by a Conservative MP.
The meeting was organized by the National Council of Hindu Temples UK (NCHT) during Diwali, the Festival of Lights celebrated by Hindus around the world.
Ghosh, who has called for the UN to control the birth rate of Muslims and tweeted comments that expressed sympathy with attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Burma, was the keynote speaker at a House of Commons event called Tolerating the Intolerant on Oct.18 — the first day of Diwali.
He was also at an earlier Diwali gathering in the Commons, attended by Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Cabinet ministers Damian Green, Theresa Villiers, Priti Patel and Sajid Javid.
Rudd has distanced herself from his comments with a Home Office spokesperson telling Arab News she attended an event to mark Diwali “for 10 or 15 minutes and was not even aware of this individual. She in no way agrees with his views on Islam and she wasn’t there when he spoke.”
In a recent Twitter post, Ghosh said: “Backwardness is the most powerful ‘weapon’ of Islam. Rohingyas are a glaring example.”
Another reads: “Shame on Rohingya men. Shame on Islam. Seeing this reproduction rate, how can we blame the Myanmar Buddhists for driving them out?”
He also tweeted views on Muslim refugees arriving in Europe: “Why they should come to Xtian countries? Why not to rich Muslim countries? If they want to come to non-Muslim country, they must leave Islam.”
A spokesperson from the Muslim Council of Britain contacted Arab News to express outrage that backbencher Bob Blackman had given Ghosh a platform. “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. If we are to tackle extremism as the government has stated it wants to, then we should not see it emanating on its own doorstep and apparently condoned by its own MPs.”
During his speech, Ghosh described his plans to build up a “Hindu Defense Force” to protect Hindu communities against supposed Muslim violence.
“Your girls and daughters are threatened by grooming, but in our country our land is threatened and our existence is threatened,” he said.
“We have to protect our land, we have to protect our civilization, our villagers and so we have to build a defense force.”
In a statement, Blackman said: “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 radicalization 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 organizers.”
Ghosh is founder of the extremist Hindu Samhati in India. On his Twitter page he describes himself as an “uncompromising Hindu activist. Determined to fight against Islamic aggression & expansion.”
During a trip to London this month, he posted pictures of himself alongside UK white nationalist Tommy Robinson, founder of the far-right English Defense League.