MP's 'Genghis Khan' comments 'normalise' racism

Gary Streeter MP
Image caption Mr Streeter has defended his comments about travellers who had set up in a Plymouth park being "as vulnerable as Ghengis Khan"

An MP's comments comparing the traveller community to Genghis Khan could increase hate crimes, the Traveller Movement has claimed.

Conservative Gary Streeter told the Plymouth Herald that travellers in a local park were "a nuisance" and "as vulnerable as Ghengis Khan".

But Yvonne MacNamara, CEO of the Traveller Movement, branded the comments "deplorable".

"Hostile comments such as these "normalise" racism", she said.

Ms MacNamara said since the referendum vote to leave the European Union there had been a "dramatic" increase in hate crimes and as an MP, Mr Streeter had a duty to foster good race relations.

In a tweet, she said a shooting in Salford on a traveller site this week was being treated by police as a hate crime.

"I fear comments like Mr Streeter's will only increase the likelihood of such violent incidents," she added.

Mr Streeter said on Wednesday, his reference to the Mongolian invader was meant to question their status as a vulnerable group, but added: "If people get upset by it, that's up to them."

The MP for Devon South West was commenting on a group which set up camp at Trefusis Park in Lower Compton, Plymouth.

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