Rather than ridiculing Matt Hancock MP for how he said ‘Assalamualaikum’ we should be applauding him.

Recently, a video was shared extensively showing Matt Hancock attempting to say the words ‘Assalamualaikum’ – the Islamic greeting. People were quick to judge his poor efforts, commenting at his almost laughable attempt.

Yet, this was clearly so wrong to do so. Yes, it is a joke but we only did this because it was Matt Hancock – a figure we are comfortable lampooning.  

This was after his ‘Eid-Ul Abba’ (Eid Mubarak) greeting that also got its fair share of abuse last year.

Whilst it is all very well to laugh but how does one react when we meet councillors and others in our community who struggle to speak English themselves?

I say this because it reminds me very much of how many of our elders who were ridiculed for speaking English which was not their first language when we were growing up. Mastering a simple greeting it not easy and I find it strange that we the children and grandchildren of immigrants are now able quite happy to ridicule someone else for not being able to speak our language properly. 

I may not well be a great fan of Matt Hancock but I have to commend him for even attempting to speak another language. 

Another great example of how wrong some of us have got it, was how we shared videos of Sajid Javid MP in the run up to the recent elections. In it, Mr Javid is supporting a candidate and attempts to appeal to voters in Urdu. 

Understandably, his Urdu is pretty poor. But Mr Javid is not alone is he? I recollect receiving the video on WhatsApp groups from friends and acquaintances who wanted to judge his language skills before being reminded their own children spoke Punjabi and Urdu the very same way.

A whole generation of children are not able to speak the language of their forefathers. They may understand it (just about) but ask them to utter some words in Urdu and they may well sound exactly like Sajid Javid.

Sadly, the phrase ‘English as a second language’ used to describe children also fails to take into consideration that English is the primary language for the majority of kids. Much of this has to do with the fact that many marriages are taking place between couples of South Asian origin who are both English speaking and both have a poor grasp of their mother tongue.

But Sajid Javid is clearly game as he in many ways epitomises that other common term – ‘coconut’. The belief that he is brown on the outside and white on the inside. Another term whose meaning has changed remarkably over the past three decades.

It was meant to be signify someone who had lost all sense of their cultural upbringing. It was about 'being British' and having 'English' taste in music and food. Essentially, every second person of South Asian origin we are likely to meet now. However, fast forward 30 years and people will most likely use it on someone who is ‘anti-religious’ or says things to appease his apparent ‘white masters’.

Sadly, here is another contradiction in terms as we now have people calling others ‘coconuts’ for the sole purpose of ridiculing that person’s political beliefs whilst ignoring the fact that they could be one themselves. Just saying.