Labour MP hits back at abuse from supporters of Polish far-right author

Twitter trolls targeted Rupa Huq after Rafał Ziemkiewicz was prevented from entering UK

The Labour MP Rupa Huq has hit back against racist abuse she received online from supporters of the Polish rightwing journalist and ideologue Rafał Ziemkiewicz, who was prevented from entering the UK last Saturday.

She said she was faced with a “concerted campaign” of hostile Twitter traffic including “‘go back to Bangladesh’ type comments” after Ziemkiewicz was told by the Home Office that his exclusion would be “conducive to the public good”.

Tweets highlighted by Huq include an image of a bearded, naked man bending over with her name marked on his rear. Another came from Ziemkiewicz personally, accusing her in English of antisemitism – referring to a complaint once made against her that was dismissed for lack of evidence.

“I’m not convinced sending me racist abuse is going to persuade the UK government of the anti-racist credentials of a guy they refused to admit for racism,” Huq said.

Poland’s Europe minister, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, summoned the UK ambassador to Warsaw, Anna Clunes, this week seeking explanation of how Ziemkiewicz’s expulsion was compatible with freedom of speech. It is understood the meeting is due to take place on Friday.

Huq said she was confident that Clunes would defend her in the meeting. “I have been in touch with our British ambassador to Poland who I am sure will do a robust job when she meets the deputy secretary of foreign affairs to discuss freedom of speech.”

Ziemkiewicz is a well-known and controversial figure in Poland, who has been accused of espousing homophobic and racist views. Last year the country’s human rights ombudsman accused him of antisemitism after he said on Polish public television that some Jews cooperated with the Holocaust. Ziemkiewicz says he has never been a Holocaust denier.

On Saturday Ziemkiewicz was detained at Heathrow and refused entry to Britain, forcing him to fly back to Warsaw. He had been due to come the UK for two days to drop off his daughter, a university student.

In a media interview Ziemkiewicz complained he had been held with a group of men with the “beauty of Uber drivers, most of whom did not speak English”, and accused Huq of being behind the immigration decision.

He posted a photograph of the Border Force letter, which said his exclusion from the UK was considered to be “conducive to the public good”. It added: “This is due to your conduct and views which are at odds with British values.”

Huq said she had no knowledge of the Home Office’s actions, being an opposition MP, until she started picking up on the abuse online, and she believes the attacks are related to a campaign she helped to organise against him coming to the UK in 2018.

At that time she and two other Labour MPs urged the Home Office to block Ziemkiewicz’s entry after they became aware he was planning a speaking tour in Bristol, Cambridge and London. In response, Ziemkiewicz cancelled his visit and chose not to travel, complaining that Britain had become “fascist”.

The Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases. A spokesperson said Border Force “help to keep the public safe and every day ensure illicit goods or foreign nationals, including those deemed non-conducive to the public, are refused entry.”


Dan Sabbagh

The GuardianTramp

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