Sarah Champion had been asked to quit as the shadow equalities minister by party leader Jeremy Corbyn last month after she wrote a newspaper column in the wake of 17 men, mostly of Pakistani origin, being convicted in Newcastle of 90 sex and drug offences including rape, sexual activity with a child, conspiracy to incite prostitution and child trafficking.
“We commend Sarah Champion and the Muslim councillor Amina Lone for speaking up on a clear trend in criminality: the conviction of men of largely Pakistani Muslim heritage in sexual-grooming cases,” reads a joint letter by the Hindu Council UK and the Network of Sikh Organisations published in The Times.
Besides the representative bodies for hundreds of Hindu and Sikh organisations in the UK, the letter is also co-signed by the British Pakistani Christian Association.
“We are not willing to see the betrayal of victims, who are being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. It’s not racist or Islamophobic to raise a matter of significant public concern,” their letter notes.
Ms Champion had written in an article in the The Sun last month: “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls. There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?”
She later apologised for an “extremely poor choice of words” and quit her role as shadow secretary for women and equalities.
A shadow minister in the UK is a member of the main opposition party in parliament who would hold ministerial office if their party were in power. Amina Lone later claimed she was rebuked by the party leadership for speaking out on her behalf.
The letter argues that it was not just “white girls who fall victim” to grooming gangs, but youngsters from their respective communities.
“The common denominator is that victims almost always tend to be non-Muslim girls. We are dismayed by the Labour leadership’s weak response,” it says.
A series of trials have come to a conclusion this year in wake of the Jay Report on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, northern England, in 2014.