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Sunday, May 8, 2011

'Your tribe need to behave like proper English children': What BBC's Mishal Husain was told by shopper in supermarket

By David Jarvis

Accusation: Mishal, pictured with her family, tweeted that her children were racially abused in a supermarket

The children of BBC news presenter Mishal Husain were the target of racist abuse while on a supermarket shopping trip when a man told them to behave ‘like proper English children’.

Ms Husain’s three sons were accosted by the man at a branch of Waitrose near the family’s London home shortly before she flew out to Pakistan to report on the death of Osama Bin Laden.

British-born Ms Husain, whose parents are from Pakistan, is said to have called for the manager and asked for the man to be confronted following the incident last Sunday.

Ms Husain is one of the fastest-rising stars of BBC News. Her authoritative presence has been particularly in evidence this week in the aftermath of the raid on Bin Laden’s lair in Abbottabad, from where she has given reports outside the fortress compound of the Al Qaeda leader.

The regular presenter of BBC1’s Sunday evening news revealed on Twitter how racism threatened to spoil a family shopping trip the weekend before her departure.

She was with husband Meekal Hashmi and their sons Rafael, six, and twins Musa and Zaki, four.

Cambridge graduate Ms Husain tweeted: ‘Joy of the supermarket: irritable older gentleman tells me my tribe need to behave “like proper English children”.’

Mr Hashmi, who also has family origins in Pakistan, posted details too.

He wrote: ‘My kids abused in Waitrose. Told off for not behaving like English children. Reminds me of life in Seventies. Sad how slowly things change.’

How Mishal broke the news on Twitter

Lawyer Mr Hashmi added: ‘Wife shouted for manager and called for Racist to be confronted. He remained belligerently unremorseful. Waitrose handled it well.’

The incident occurred near the couple’s £700,000 home in Swiss Cottage, North-West London.

The Bin Laden coverage has taken Ms Husain to the town where her father was educated as a boy in Pakistan. Earlier this week she tweeted: ‘Never expected a story in Abbottabad: often passed through en route to mountains and it’s home to my father’s old school Burn Hall.’

In 2009, Ms Husain was named one of the UK’s most powerful Muslim women. She often writes about her faith and describes herself as a ‘liberal Muslim’.

The 38-year-old has long been one of the leading faces of the BBC’s World channel but it is only relatively recently that she has become better known at home.

Shock: Mishal, pictured reporting from Abbottabad, claims her children were told to 'behave like proper English children' by a shopper in Waitrose

Her journalistic skills have led to such a swift ascent that earlier this year she joined the very select ranks of presenters of BBC2’s Newsnight. She is now even being talked of as a successor to Jeremy Paxman.

She has also won admirers for her stunning yet elegant looks. A YouTube clip of Ms Husain, entitled ‘the world’s most beautiful newscaster’, has attracted 60,000 views.

However, she once rebuked veteran BBC colleague John Humphrys for being ‘obsessed with autocuties’ after he asked her if she was employed by the BBC for her good looks.

A Waitrose spokeswoman said: ‘We’re very sorry this regrettable incident happened.’

A BBC spokesman said that the incident was a private matter.



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