Complaint over Bengali insults at Tower Hamlets Council meetings

Bengali insults being traded at Tower Hamlets Council meetings have triggered a formal complaint to town hall chiefs.

The move follows allegations that offensive remarks were made at the last public meeting of the council, in April.

Labour councillor Abdal Ullah has written to the council’s Standards Committee complaining that he was called a “shurer batcha” by Independent councillor Gulam Robbani at the meeting. The term translates as “son of a pig” in English, and is considered a deeply offensive remark to Muslims.

In a letter to legal chief Isabella Freeman, Cllr Ullah wrote: “Whilst we may have our differences councillors should afford one another courtesy in our exchanges rather than resorting to unnecessary and abusive insults.”

Bengali can regularly be heard being spoken at meetings of Tower Hamlets Council, and allegations of insults being traded in the language are frequent.

But Cllr Ullah called on the Standards Committee to investigate last month’s incident, and expressed fears over the use of languages other than English during public meetings.

“In my view the use of Bengali or other languages (other than in translation during

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public questions or petitions etc) disrupts the transparency and openness of meeting by preventing some present from understanding the exchanges taking place”, he wrote.

Tower Hamlets Council confirmed the complaint had been received, and would be dealt with according to normal procedures.