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SOCIALIST groups in east London called for an investigation yesterday into “racist and offensive” comments by a presenter on a Bengali-British TV station.
Mahee Jalil, the founder of Channel S, one of the most popular Bengali stations in Britain, sparked anger earlier this month during a programme on Covid-19.
Answering questions from a caller, Mr Jalil claimed that Muslim shopkeepers were hiking the price of betel leaves, a popular ingredient used during Ramadan.
Speaking in Bengali, the presenter said that they were acting in such a way because they are “low-caste” people who had converted from Hinduism in the past.
Mr Jalil quickly apologised for the derogatory comments. However, they have since stoked tensions among Muslim and Hindu groups in the large Bengali community in Tower Hamlets.
In response, Bangladeshi-British socialists are calling for unity among groups.
“These racist and offensive views hurt the sentiments of a religious community and [are] designed to sow discord and disunity among ethnic minorities in Britain,” the Communist Party of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Workers’ Council and Bangladesh Left Front said in a statement.
“We further call for a full investigation by appropriate regulatory bodies to examine the possible breach of broadcasting laws.”
Following the broadcast on May 3, local MP Rushanara Ali wrote to regulatory body Ofcom to investigate why the programme was allowed to air.
The Bethnal Green & Bow MP tweeted: “I am deeply shocked by the hurtful and reprehensible comments made by Mr Jalil.
“I am proud to represent a diverse constituency, including those from the Hindu community.”
London is home to the biggest Bengali community in Britain, while one third of the population in Tower Hamlets are people from Bangladesh or their descendants.
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