Azeem Rafiq, an average cricketer, previously unknown by the wider public cries racism and the UK media and political elite reacted with orgasmic apoplexy.
The staid world of cricket has been rocked recently by accusations of racism by Azeem Rafiq, a Pakistani born cricketer who played for Yorkshire County Cricket Club during two periods from 2008 to 2018. These accusations of racism have been given saturation reporting coverage by the UK media and priority over major issues such as COVID, terrorism , the immigrant crises and geo-political tensions regarding Armenia – Azerbaijan ( where scores of soldiers have been killed this week ) ,the Belarus -Polish crises and the Taiwan – China tensions. So important was this cricket issue deemed to be that a special committee of UK Members of Parliament was convened to listen to the as yet, unproven accusations of Azeem Rafiq. Needless to say, no committee of UK MP’s was convened for any of the far more serious issues and geopolitical events noted above nor about the hundreds of indigenous black Africans slaughtered by Islamists in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger these last few weeks.
An average cricketer, previously unknown by the wider public cries racism and the UK media and political elite reacted with orgasmic apoplexy
There is a whiff of nauseating hypocrisy about this issue from the cricketing authorities , the media, our Parliamentarians and the Pakistani born player and others making the accusations that English cricket is institutionally racist. None of those groups nor individuals mentioned have ever complained about the institutional racism nor apartheid inflicted by Pakistan and their cricketing authorities on the African community within Pakistan known as the Sheedis.
The population of the Sheedis is unknown, estimates range between a quarter of a million and three million. They retain their non-Caucasian features and are easily identified. Moreover, they are herded into areas where only those of their ethnicity have lived for decades. They are at the lowest levels of Pakistani society forcibly made to continue their subservience to all other Pakistanis. What is known is that they were slave laborer brought into Pakistan by Arab slave traders and to this day have been forced to the lowest levels of human degradation by Pakistani Islamic society. Their chances for social improvement within Pakistan are far worse than Pakistani born cricketers within the United Kingdom. A member of this ethnic group could never achieve the status of a test cricketer within Pakistan given the institutional racism within the country. This race have been subject to brutality, contempt, non-education, starvation, social deprivation, apartheid and racism for centuries and their cries for help have been totally ignored, never reported and met with silence. And silence is assent.
It is a secret held close within the hearts of Pakistanis – their own form of apartheid; their centuries old form of slavery that continues into the twenty first century. The Sheedis are the largest African immigrant community in South Asia and are also the best kept keep secret thanks to the ignorance, inertia and the media’s selective approach to racism. One wonders if the Black Lives Matter movement will take up the plight of the Sheedis or whether the cowardice of Black Lives Matter and of black politicians globally will ensure the Sheedis secret is maintained.
How is it possible that the nation state of Pakistan has been allowed to inflict such human misery, have been permitted to scrape to the lowest levels of moral indecency and continue to inflict slavery and apartheid on a minority group of people from African descent without any media or political criticism. And paradoxically how is it possible that one person cries of racism is permitted to command such disproportionate media and political coverage?
Perversely an interview with three retired West Indian cricketers was shown on a UK television morning program. which I caught the tail end of. The interview was being conducted from the UK studio live to the West Indies and happened in early November and you will soon understand the logic behind my inability to be more specific. The three former West Indian test players were asked about racism they had experienced during their considerable number of combined years playing in English County Cricket which according to the Pakistani accuser and our media is institutionally racist. None of the three interviewed recalled any such experience and one of them even joked that probably it was because of his considerable height of being six foot nine inches tall. Now all this is important and moreover sinister because when I attempted to find this interview on You Tube and other social media sources it had, guess what, disappeared. Yes, as if by magic an interview with three renowned players of color who dismissed racism in English cricket was no longer available.
If our politicians and media really wish to challenge racism then these West Indian guys should have been contacted and this current circus may have exposed a truer picture rather than giving disproportionate exposure to a few incidents aimed at a small number.
Was it not the responsibility of those Pakistani cricketers who have now exposed racism in English cricket to expose similar racism in Pakistan?
Was it and is it not the responsibility of our mainstream media , politicians, anti-racist campaigners and Pakistani cricketers to expose and challenge the racism, apartheid and slavery against the Sheedis by the Pakistanis as apartheid was challenged in South Africa some five decades past?
Why the inertia? Why the silence? Why are the African Sheedis in Pakistan so worthless in the eyes of our media and politicians and those Pakistanis so appalled by racism?
As Bob Dylan sang …’ The Answer My Friend Is Blowing In The Wind…’
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Excellent article, Peter Baum. As a black British woman, I have become increasingly skeptical of media hype over racism. I don’t think racism is a bygone issue, but the way the media frame it, the seeming lack of patience to get facts before publicizing accusations, and the destructive solutions presented worsen the issue. Particularly the latter. Navel-gazing, collective guilt, meaningless symbolic gestures, quotas, and endless recriminations do not help racial cohesion at all. I had no idea about the mistreatment of Africans in Pakistan, though this does not surprise me: similar cases exist in India, China, Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, etc. When I look at Britain by comparison, I see that this country is leagues ahead in terms of civil rights across the board. So punish the racists by all means, but don’t act as though this entire country still has a race problem, when it has done more than even many European nations to oppose it.