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Won’t be silenced: Priti Patel as UK opposition MPs accuse her of ‘gaslighting’ racism

A day after clashes broke out between Black Lives Matter protesters and police officers, Patel had condemned the violence perpetrated by a minority of protesters in an address in the House of Commons.

SNS | New Delhi |

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel who had recently shared her experience about facing racial abuse while growing up in Britan said o Friday that she will not be “silenced” by the Labour Party MPs.

The opposition has accused Patel of using her Indian heritage to “gaslight” the “very real racism” faced by communities in Britain.

Earlier this week, House of Commons said in a statement that the Indian-origin cabinet minister had spoken about her personal experience of racial abuse while growing up as an ethnic minority in the UK.

A group of 12 ethnic minority Labour Party parliamentarians, wrote a letter to Patel on Thursday saying, “Being a person of colour does not automatically make you an authority on all forms of racism”.

MPs further mentioned in a letter, “We write to you as Black Asian and Ethnic Minority Labour MPs to highlight our dismay at the way you used your heritage and experiences of racism to gaslight the very real racism faced by Black people and communities across the UK”.

Gaslighting refers to a form of psychological manipulation where seeds of doubt are planted against a particular idea.

In response to the letter, taking to Twitter, Priti Patel said, “I will not be silenced by @UKLabour MPs who continue to dismiss the contributions of those who don’t conform to their view of how ethnic minorities should behave.”

A day after clashes broke out between Black Lives Matter protesters and police officers, Patel had condemned the violence perpetrated by a minority of protesters in an address in the House of Commons.

Violent protests have taken place across the world following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

The minister was born to Gujarati-origin parents who fled Uganda for the UK when dictator Idi Amin expelled Asians from the African country in the early 1970s, said, “On that basis, it must have been a very different Home Secretary who as a child was frequently called a Paki in the playground; a very different Home Secretary who was racially abused in the streets or even advised to drop her surname and use her husband’s in order to advance her career… so when it comes to racism, sexism, tolerance or social justice, I will not take lectures from the those other side of the House.”

Earlier in the month, Meghan Markle also paid a moving tribute to Floyd as she reflected on her own memories of racism when growing up in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles, where Markle now lives with the prince and their son Archie after quitting the British royal family, has been a focus of the marches, with 10,000 protesters flooding the streets of downtown on Wednesday alone.

The widespread resort to uniformed National Guards units is rare, and it evoked disturbing memories of the rioting in US cities in 1967 and 1968 in a turbulent time of protest over racial and economic disparities.

The 47-year-old was first elected as a Conservative MP for Witham in Essex in 2010 and gained prominence in the then David Cameron led Tory government as his Indian Diaspora Champion.

She went on to be appointed to junior ministerial posts, Treasury minister in 2014 and then Employment Minister after the 2015 General Election, before Theresa May promoted her to Secretary of State in the Department for International Development (DfID) in 2016 until she was forced to resign the post in 2017.

The minister was among the rebel Tory MPs who consistently voted against the former Prime Minister David Cameron’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU as a “bad deal for Britain”.

(With inputs from agency)