He didn’t just call her a Paki

So, I’m sure everyone in the UK has heard that Anton du Beke (a BBC presenter and Strictly Come Dancing contestant) told his partner Laila Rouass, after she had applied a fake tan, “you look like a Paki”. This has caused quite a bit of controversy, as you might expect, with some calls for him to be sacked. However, this isn’t the first time he’s insulted his partner. A few weeks before that, when he first met her, he asked her if she was a terrorist on hearing that she had Moroccan ancestry. (Also see earlier entry.)

Now, I’m well aware that many youths of Pakistani origin call each other Paki, and it doesn’t have the same sting as the N word unless it’s said in an obviously hostile manner, combined with other derogatory language or used on people of any Asian heritage, regardless of whether they actually are Pakistani. It’s just short for Pakistani, after all. (Not everyone of Pakistani origin approves of it, though.) However, this guy is obviously a repeat offender, and yes, he did offend her as the News of the World report makes clear:

The racist outburst was heard by 15 other people including fellow pro dancer Brendan Cole.

A witness said: “Laila just stood there gobsmacked, as was everyone else. She just looked at him as if she couldn’t quite believe what he’d said.

“Everyone in the room was just shell-shocked and nobody spoke for few seconds.

“Then Laila glared at Anton and just walked out - she was so upset. She just went to her dressing room, collected her stuff and went straight home. She felt totally humiliated.”

Clearly, to a certain type of person, anyone of Arab or Muslim heritage has to be a terrorist, even if they’re female and dress nothing like a religious Muslim woman would, when most terrorists are male anyway. Although I’m white and therefore don’t encounter much in the way of racial slurs, I would feel insulted at the suggestion that I was a terrorist, probably more so than by a throwaway insult.

If the presenter had said to a black partner, “you’re not going to stab me, are you?” or suggested that she was some other class of criminal such as a drug dealer, and then a couple of weeks later used the N-word on her, he’d be pretty much dead meat. The same should be true for this kind of slur.

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