Maajid Nawaz calls out "tone deaf" Health Secretary for urging people not to protest

6 June 2020, 15:16 | Updated: 6 June 2020, 15:35

By Seán Hickey

As protests against racism and police brutality in the UK take place this weekend, Maajid Nawaz addressed inconsistencies he saw in enforcement of lockdown.

Black Lives Matter protests take place this weekend across the UK to show solidarity with US protesters demonstrating against the death of George Floyd. The protests have shed light on institutionalised racism in the UK and have brought anti-racist dialogue to the forefront in a more intense way than ever before.

As the Health Secretary condemned protests, citing the dangers of spreading coronavirus in close spaces such as a highly attended protest. Maajid told listeners that he has "observed that there is an inconsistent message here." The "difference in tone and inconsistency" was being compared against VE day and Bank Holiday warnings from the government that were more reminders to maintain social distancing rather than out and out condemnation.

"How do you think that inconsistency in tone will be picked up by people like me" Maajid wondered. He followed up by reminding listeners of the topic he has been most vocal on during lockdown – how lockdown had a disproportionate effect on BAME people. "22% of the fines for contravening lockdown have gone to 15% of the population which is minorities" he said. Maajid went on to point out that "the fines you are dolling out is a months work" to people in vulnerable situations.

Maajid warned that such disproportionate enforcement of lockdown isn't "just racially profiling and brutalising communities", it is proving to people that racism is prevalent in the UK.

The Health Secretary warned people against attending protests, as doing so would break social distancing rules
The Health Secretary warned people against attending protests, as doing so would break social distancing rules. Picture: PA

Maajid spoke briefly about Minnesota, the US state which George Floyd died in. He told listeners that that state has been a democrat state for 42 years and proves that racism transcends party politics. "Racism has to sit above party politics otherwise it will never get solved" he said.

Becoming agitated, Maajid called out the Health Secretary as "tone deaf to the frustration and anger we are feeling" after his condemnation of the protests.

"We have been the ones suffering and you tell us to not to go out and raise our voices" he argued. Maajid maintained that the establishment has proved to be "tone deaf to what we're feeling right now."

He called for Mr Hancock to "try and understand the level of emotion that is going on now" concluding that "those people know the virus is dangerous, it is killing their family before it kills yours."

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