Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq speaks out on ‘horrendous’ Twitter trolling
- Credit: Archant
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq has called for female MPs to be trained in how to deal with vicious online trolling after revealing she has frequently been the target of abuse, including death threats.
Ms Siddiq, who is from a Muslim background, told the Sunday Times: “I have had horrendous abuse...ranging from, ‘Why aren’t you wearing a hijab?’ to ‘If I could I would kill you’.”
Ms Siddiq was elected as MP last May and gave birth to her first child, a daughter, in April.
But, alongside many public messages of congratulations, she received criticism for having a baby during her first year in Parliament.
She said: “Women - or their Twitter profiles said they were women - said things like, ‘Make up your mind, you are either a mother or an MP, you can’t do both’.”
Ms Siddiq said she first received online abuse during the general election campaign for Hampstead and Kilburn, when she was trolled because of her Bangladeshi heritage.
She claimed she was told: “The young people of Hampstead will never vote for someone with a name like yours.”
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She said she has considered using her married name online to deter some of the racist and religious insults she receives: “I do sometimes wonder if I was Tulip Percy on Twitter whether it would be as bad.”
She said another barrage of abuse came when she spoke out against American presidential hopeful Donald Trump, calling for him to be banned from the UK after he had called for Muslims to be barred from entering the US.
After her comments, she said she received tweets including: “Shut your mouth you silly woman, you look like a seven-year-old” and “Muslims should all burn in hell”.
Former Regent’s Park councillor Ms Siddiq said she believes the recent wave of virulent online abuse directed towards female MPs is in response to a new generation of strong-minded women entering the Commons.
She said: “They do not feel they have to shut up. For some people, that’s a big change - they are not used to handling women like that.”
Ms Siddiq said she no longer replies to online abuse as she believes it exacerbates the situation.
She said: “These people are so sad sitting behind a screen with a fake name hurling insults...Trolling will not stop me from speaking out.”
She claimed that several female MPs who are frequent targets for trolls have formed an unofficial support group.
She said: “We meet online and in the tea rooms. we support each other as MPs and as women, Online abuse can be really frightening and upsetting for some women.”
Ms Siddiq has called for “abuse buttons” to be provided on all social media accounts to make it easier to report trolling, and for Twitter to require users to provide contact details so threats of violence can be traced.