British boxing icon Amir Khan said that he is “more British than Ukip”.
In an interview with the Observer newspaper, the 28-year-old welterweight, who hails from a Muslim family of Pakistani origin, said: I’m probably more British than Ukip are because I represented the country in the Olympic games. I also fight for the country and I’ve won medals and titles for the UK. So I’m more British than them. So maybe when they see me they recognise that.”
The former two-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist urged the British Muslim community to “stand up and be counted” against extremism.
Regarding a question over young British Muslims who are seduced by radical Islamism, Amir said “people are brainwashing them”.
He said: “Kids don’t grow up thinking about going out and killing innocent people. It’s why I go to schools and tell them: ‘Look, you want to follow the right path. You want to represent your country in a good way. You want to build a name for yourself and your families.’
“I stand up all the time and say this. Obviously innocent people shouldn’t be killed. Obviously this is wrong.”
When asked whether more people from the British Muslim community need to add their voices to his, he told the newspaper: “Yes. And it’s not happening. It’s a very sensitive thing to talk about. And it’s tough. I get questioned a lot, but I think we have to be brave about this.
“I try and stand up and say the right things and get the message out. What’s happening gives us all a bad name. It’s why it’s so important to stand up and be counted.”
When his US visa was revoked at Heathrow, he said, he telephoned Prime Minister David Cameron.
“I had a fight in two days’ time and I had to get there, so I rang David Cameron and he said: ‘Look, leave it with me.’,” said Khan. “And he sorted it out.”
Despite his experience during air travel, Khan said he had not faced “much” intolerance or discrimination at home.