Hancock added to anti-Muslim hate with distancing claims, says government adviser

The government has been criticised by its personal Islamophobia adviser for refusing to publish the proof behind Matt Hancock’s declare that individuals had been “not abiding to social distancing” as he imposed a lockdown on 4.6 million individuals in northern England at the beginning of the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha.

Qari Asim, the deputy chair of a government taskforce on anti-Muslim hatred, mentioned the well being secretary’s declare on Twitter added to “hateful narratives” and “gave the impression that Muslim communities were not social distancing and were ignoring the government guidelines”.

Hancock made the comment in a late-night Twitter thread on 30 July, when Eid al-Adha began, saying with three hours’ discover that strict restrictions can be imposed on Greater Manchester, elements of East Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Leicester from midnight.

He mentioned: “The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing. So from midnight tonight, people from different households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors in these areas.”

The lockdown, imposed 12 weeks in the past and largely nonetheless in place, sparked a frenzy on far-right social media networks as extremists blamed Muslims for spreading the coronavirus.

The timing and method of the announcement was instantly criticised by police chiefs, MPs from all events, and Muslim leaders who described it as “shameless scapegoating of Muslims”. Many of the northern cities and cities positioned below lockdown have above-average south Asian populations.

In response to a freedom of data request, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed it held the proof to assist Hancock’s declare however refused to publish it. It mentioned to publish the information would jeopardise “the internal deliberative process as it relates to policymaking”.

Asim, a senior adviser to the government, urged ministers to publish the information instantly. He mentioned Hancock’s declare “gave the impression that Muslim communities were not social distancing and were ignoring the government guidelines. Therefore it’s only right that full data is made public to make things clearer.”

He added: “We noticed an increase of Islamophobia on-line [in the aftermath of the announcement] and the Muslim communities had been seen as the reason for one other lockdown. Some individuals undoubtedly felt that the timing of the announcement was very poor. The manner it was made confirmed disregard to a religion group.

“We don’t want to give rise to hateful narratives and it’s really import that the authorities ensure that such hateful narratives are not supported.”

Hancock’s tweets got here simply hours after a high-level assembly had thought-about a report by a subgroup of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) that mentioned native lockdowns may lead to a “divided nation” and “be exploited by far and extreme rightwing groups”.

It warned that “perceived inconsistency or unfairness in how and where restrictions are imposed could lead to social unrest and public disorder”.

Coronavirus: Matt Hancock proclaims ban on indoor conferences in elements of northern England – video

Sir Chris Ham, the previous chief government of the well being thinktank the King’s Fund, mentioned: “The proof utilized by ministers when taking lockdown choices ought to at all times be made public, particularly as these choices have a significant affect on the lives of individuals affected.

“Transparency is essential if public trust in the government’s decisions is to be restored, as already happens with Sage minutes.”

Wajid Khan, the mayor of Burnley borough council, one of many cities positioned below lockdown, mentioned method of Hancock’s announcement led Muslims to really feel “scapegoated and blamed” and “used, confused and abused”.

He mentioned the government’s failure to publish the proof behind Hancock’s declare would “exacerbate” mistrust “towards the way decision-making affects those communities”.

“It is in all of our interest to find out what led to this controversial decision,” he mentioned.

The DHSC has been contacted for remark.

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