Labor MP Rupa Huq has hit back at racist abuse she received online from supporters of Polish right-wing journalist and ideologue Rafał Ziemkiewicz, who was barred from entering the UK last Saturday.
She said she had faced a “concerted campaign” of hostile Twitter traffic, including “return to Bangladesh” type comments “after Ziemkiewicz was informed by the Home Office that her exclusion would be “favorable to the public good”.
The tweets highlighted by Huq include an image of a bearded, naked man bending over with his name stamped on his back. Another came personally from Ziemkiewicz, accusing her in English of anti-Semitism – referring to a complaint filed against her which was dismissed for lack of evidence.
“I’m not convinced that sending me racist slurs is going to persuade the UK government of the anti-racist credentials of a guy he refused to admit for racism,” Huq said.
Polish European Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk this week summoned UK Ambassador to Warsaw Anna Clunes to demand explanations on the compatibility of Ziemkiewicz’s expulsion with freedom of expression. It is understood that the meeting is to take place on Friday.
Huq said she was confident Clunes would defend her at the meeting. “I have been in contact with our British Ambassador to Poland who I am sure will do a solid job when she meets the Deputy Foreign Secretary 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 ombudsperson accused him of anti-Semitism after he said on Polish state television that some Jews had cooperated with the Holocaust. Ziemkiewicz says he was never a Holocaust denier.
On Saturday, Ziemkiewicz was arrested at Heathrow and refused entry to Britain, forcing him to return to Warsaw. He had been coming to the UK for two days to drop off his daughter, a university student.
In a media interview Ziemkiewicz complained that he was detained with a group of men with the “beauty of Uber drivers, most of whom spoke no English,” and accused Huq of being behind the immigration decision.
He posted a photograph of the letter from the Border Force, who said his exclusion from the UK was seen as “conducive to the public good”. He added: “This is due to your conduct and your opinions which are at odds with British values.”
Huq said she was unaware of the Home Office’s actions, as an opposition lawmaker, until she started speaking out against online abuse, and she believes the The attacks are linked to a campaign she helped organize against him when he arrived in the UK in 2018.
Around that time, she and two other Labor MPs urged the Home Office to block Ziemkiewicz’s entrance after learning he was planning a speaking tour to Bristol, Cambridge and London. In response, Ziemkiewicz canceled his visit and chose not to travel, complaining that Britain had become “fascist.”
The Home Office said it had not commented on the individual cases. A spokesperson said that Border Force “helps keep the public safe and ensures every day that illicit goods or foreign nationals, including those deemed unsuitable for the public, are denied entry.”