A Ukip MEP who likened a Scottish Government minister to the convicted terrorist Abu Hamza has been urged to “seriously consider his position” as Holyrood voted unanimously to condemn the remarks.
Scottish MEP David Coburn sparked an outcry with comments he made about Humza Yousaf, the Minister for Europe and External Affairs.
It has been reported Mr Coburn referred to the minister by saying: “Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza.”
MSPs from across the Scottish Parliament joined together to back an amendment from the Scottish Government “condemning the recent comments by David Coburn MEP”.
Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil told MSPs: “Racial discrimination and harassment are still too common an experience for minority ethnic people in Scotland today, ranging from verbal abuse to sickening acts of extreme violence.
“And David Coburn’s shameful comparison of Humza Yusaf to the convicted terrorist Abu Hamza is nothing short of disgraceful.”
Ukip leader Nigel Farage said Mr Coburn, who was elected as an MEP last May, had been “telling a joke in poor taste”.
Mr Farage added he was not “terribly exercised” about the row and acknowledged ‘’people do make mistakes’’.
But Mr Neil insisted: “This totally unacceptable smear cannot be excused as Ukip banter or a joke. It is racist, it is Islamophobic, it is just plain wrong and it has rightly been condemned by all parties in this chamber.
“Let me say this - David Coburn does not represent the views of the Scottish people and I seriously think as an MEP for Scotland he should seriously consider his position.
“There is no place in Scotland, or elsewhere, for the depiction of Muslim people as terrorists.”
Conservative MSP Liz Smith described Mr Coburn’s comments as “repugnant”, adding that they have “absolutely no place in any democratic society”.
She added: “But I think we have to be very careful not to imply that it is all sections of the media and politicians who are making inflammatory remarks about immigration and immigrants, because that is not true.
“Yes it is true that there has been some completely unacceptable media sensationalism, and undoubtedly there is a very small minority of politicians who over the years have made completely unacceptable remarks, but they are not the majority by any means.”
Labour’s Ken Macintosh said: “For some in politics and for some in media, the impact of immigration on our society is a fear and an anxiety that they can play to, rather than address directly.
“How we then in turn react is where it gets complicated.
“If we over-react, if we condemn every person who expresses their worries as racist, we actually provoke the very backlash that we are trying to address.”
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