Scotland’s only Ukip politician, David Coburn, was last night urged to resign after it was reported that he had compared SNP minister Humza Yousaf to the convicted terrorist Abu Hamza.
Yousaf, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Europe and International Development, said he was “appalled, disgusted and hurt” by the “Islamophobic” comment.
The MSP for Glasgow has written to Ukip leader Nigel Farage calling for Coburn to be suspended while an investigation takes place.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon condemned the alleged remark as “reprehensible”, while Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson described it as “totally unacceptable” and Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Kezia Dugdale said it was a “disgusting slur”.
Scots Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the reported comment was “astonishing” and called Coburn “an offensive fool”.
The radical cleric Hamza was sentenced by a judge in New York in January to life in prison for a string of terrorism offences.
Ukip’s Scottish chairman, Arthur Misty Thackeray, denied the comparison had been made, saying his party colleague made a “slip of the tongue” and “simply got a name wrong, which many people do on a daily basis. For example, I very often get referred to as Minty.”
Coburn, Ukip’s only elected member in Scotland, is said to have made the remark during a conversation with a newspaper about his appearance on the BBC’s Big Immigration Debate on Tuesday.
He is reported to have claimed that Yousaf was supposed to appear on the show, before stating: “Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza, didn’t seem to turn up.”
The MEP, who is standing for Ukip in the Falkirk constituency at the general election, is said to have told the paper that the remark was intended to be private.
Yousaf said: “I am utterly appalled, disgusted and hurt by the comments allegedly made by David Coburn MEP. This is Islamophobia of the worst kind. If this was shouted at a Muslim on the street none of us would tolerate it. The fact this abuse has come from an elected member of the European Parliament is even more shocking and completely unacceptable.
“Nigel Farage has been plagued by accusations of leading a racist party and this outburst from David Coburn MEP shows that Ukip are not just a party with a few rotten apples but rotten to the core.
“If Nigel Farage is serious about Ukip being a party that will not tolerate xenophobia in any form, then I expect David Coburn to be expelled from Ukip immediately and have written to Nigel Farage in that vein.
“David Coburn has been exposed making Islamophobic remarks and should do the honourable thing and resign.”
His letter to Mr Farage reads: “I am sure you will wish to distance Ukip from such attitudes and I note you have taken disciplinary action against those found to make such prejudiced remarks in the past.
“I therefore call on you to immediately suspend David Coburn while you investigate this matter, and if he is indeed found guilty of making these remarks then I expect he will be expelled from Ukip.”
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