SNP's Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh: '˜Sickening' online abuse brought me to tears

A Muslim MP has said the 'sickening filth and vitriolic abuse' she has faced since being elected has brought her to tears.

SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor

The SNP’s Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh said she had faced racist e-mails and threatening letters over the past 14 months.

She said: “What has sometimes taken my breath away, shocked my family and reduced me to tears is the vitriolic, hateful and sometimes criminal levels of personal abuse that I and colleagues across this House have faced.

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“I have received hateful handwritten letters which contain sexual slurs, phone calls to my office threatening violence and racist e-mails speaking about what people want to do to people like me who are Muslims.”

The Ochil and South Perthshire MP added: “I have been called a Nazi, received messages which have called for me to be shot as a traitor, read in tears as strangers attacked my father who passed away two years ago.

“My husband sees these messages. My children read this garbage. My staff are required to wade through this sickening filth each day to get to the important information they need to do their jobs.”

She urged victims outside politics to report online abuse, adding: “We stand with you, we know how it feels.”

She called for clarity over when online threats and harassment become a crime as she urged the likes of Twitter and Facebook to do more.

“Social media and publishing platforms must accept this serious issue and take steps to address it,” she said.

“We are entitled to expect more from Facebook and Twitter in their handling of these issues.”

Former culture secretary Maria Miller, chair of the women and equalities committee, called for sex and relationship education to be made mandatory in schools to help tackle the culture behind online abuse because of the growing scale of online hate crime, cyber bullying and revenge porn cases.