Farage defends UKIP MEP who called Muslim politician Abu Hamza

25th Mar 2015

Elham Asaad Buaras

UKIP Leader, Nigel Farage, is at the centre of a row after refusing to condemn UKIP’s only elected politician in Scotland for comparing a Muslim SNP Minister to Abu Hamza who was convicted of supporting terrorism.

Farage claimed that David Coburn’s controversial remark was merely a “joke in poor taste” and has rejected demands to kick the MEP out of the party.

Coburn, who is also bidding to become an MP in the General Election, said in conversation: “Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza.”

Yousaf, the Scottish Minister for Europe and International Development, said Farage’s response was “pitiful” and challenged him to sack Coburn.

Scotland’s party leaders and politicians have joined forces to condemn Coburn.

An online petition calling for Coburn to resign has been launched, with nearly 300 signatures.

In the wake of the controversy, the SNP has called on Prime Minister, David Cameron, to rule out a post-election deal with UKIP.

Coburn, who has insisted his remark was made “in jest”, made the comment during a conversation with the Scottish Daily Mail earlier this month, in which he spoke about his appearance on BBC Two show The Big Immigration Debate.

He claimed that Yousaf was supposed to appear on the programme, and said: “Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza, didn’t seem to turn up.”

Responding to the news that Yousaf has called for disciplinary action against Coburn Farage replied: “What, for telling a joke in poor taste?”

Yousaf said Farage’s response revealed “he doesn’t have a clue of what’s going on in his own party” or “at worst it indicates he doesn’t see anything wrong in what Mr Coburn has said.”

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said the slur was “reprehensible”.

Scottish Labour Leader, Jim Murphy, said of the UKIP MEP: “People across Scotland, including even those who voted for him, will now want to see the back of him.”

Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, tweeted: “Totally unacceptable. Our country is better than this. And he’s got form. Mindless idiot.”

Scottish Lib Dem Leader, Willie Rennie, called Coburn “an offensive fool” while the Scottish Green Party has called for Coburn’s resignation.

President of Glasgow Central Mosque, Asid Khan, said: “Muslims have spent years rightly distinguishing the true teachings of Islam against the actions of terrorists. For an elected member to refer to Humza Yousaf as a convicted extremist is beyond the pale. David Coburn’s remarks have deeply insulted the entire Muslim community in Scotland.”

In a statement to The Muslim News Muslim Council of Scotland (MCS) said it was appalled at Coburn and called on Nigel Farage, “to do the right thing and take immediate action against David Coburn, such a person is not fit to represent Scottish people in the European parliament.”

“The stereotyping of Muslims as extremists and terrorists, is one the most shameful forms of Islamophobia, and the manner constantly used by right-wing groups such as the BNP and the English/Scottish Defence League at caricaturing Muslims. For a leader of a mainstream political party to make the same type of insult is frankly disgraceful and reprehensible” said a MCS spokesman.

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