British gymnast mocks Islam as he jokes about “60 virgins”

28th Oct 2016
British gymnast mocks Islam as he jokes about “60 virgins”

(Photo: Creative Commons)

Nadine Osman

Olympic gymnast Louis Smith has been forced to apologies for disrespectfully mocking Islam on social media after the British Gymnastics Association announced he may face “suspension or expulsion” over his conduct.

Four-time Olympic medallist has been slammed for sharing a video of himself pretending to pray with a friend during a friend’s wedding party earlier this month.

The footage, which also features fellow gymnast Luke Carson, sees Smiths’ friend shouting “Allahu Akbar”. The clip goes on to show Smith laughing and holding onto a drink while Carson rips a hanging rug off the wall.

A female friend then joins, and Smith yelling sounds as his friends pretend to pray in the background.

Louis then beings an indecipherable rant that starts with “60 virgins…. ”

When the female friend tells the pair their actions “are not funny,” Smith responds: “Yes, it is!”

Fans rushed to social media to condemn the star over the clip, with one saying: “Are we watching the sad slow demise of Louis Smith?”

Following the backlash, retired gymnast Carson fired back and claimed it was nothing more than a joke. He said: “It was a three-minute video of us just fooling around.”

Smith, who won pommel horse silver at Rio 2016, later said he was “deeply sorry” for his “thoughtless actions”.

British Gymnastics said: “We will be investigating the behaviour’s reported.”

In a statement, the governing body added: “Members who break our code of conduct can face suspension or expulsion from our organisation.”

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) welcomed British Gymnastics decision to investigate Smith.

MCB Deputy Secretary General, Dr Omer El-Hamdoon, told The Muslim News, “I commend British Gymnastics for speaking out against this behaviour. We are heartened by their clear statement where they do not condone the mocking of any faith or religion.”

He adds, “This behaviour by leading and decorated sportspeople is sadly a confirmation of how Islamophobia has become acceptable. It is therefore heartening that British Gymnastics has resolved to take swift and decisive action. The supposed apology that has been issued by the two men falls well short of addressing the hurt caused against Muslims. We hope they reflect upon their actions and realise the need for people to follow their faith with dignity.”

On October 10, Smith issued another apology this time on his Instagram, in which he claimed he’d learnt a “valuable life lesson”.

He wrote in a post: “I am deeply sorry for the recent video you may have seen. I am not defending myself, what I did was wrong. I want to say sorry for the deep offense I have caused and to my family who have also been affected by my thoughtless actions.”

He added, “I recognise the severity of my mistake and hope it can be used as an example of how important it is to respect others at all times. I have learnt a valuable life lesson and I wholeheartedly apologise.”

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