Letter: Negative Asian images

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The Independent Online
I WISH to protest at your use of a photograph of Sikhs to illustrate the alleged swamping of the Gorton Labour Party by Asians, a phenomenon you report as possibly motivated by 'the singular purpose of securing the seat for a Muslim or Urdu-speaking candidate'.

You pander to racist fears of Asian encroachment by picturing Gerald Kaufman squeezed out by the file of Asians in the main picture. Also, by using Sikhs to illustrate a story about Muslims, you are affixing a lie in the public mind. Sikhism originated as a reaction to Islam, and its defining characteristic is precisely its difference from Asian Islam. It is seriously misleading to show British Sikhs arriving at a house to celebrate a marriage or engagement, when the story concerns a political exercise involving a small proportion of Muslims in Manchester.

To add insult to injury you captioned your picture by mention of 'an Asian population, mainly from Pakistan'. The creation of the Muslim state of Pakistan displaced the large numbers of Sikhs who had been living there for centuries and were forced to flee to India.

Dr Simeran Gell

University of Cambridge