LONDON, UK: A Conservative general election candidate made a remark on a turban-wearing Sikh rival at a debate, saying, he was “talking through his turban”.
Philip Dunne is seeking re-election as MP in Ludlow, Shropshire and was speaking during a husting in a local church on Wednesday evening.
“Shocked and deeply hurt” by Mr Philip’s remark, told Labour candidate Kuldip Sahota, a turban-wearing Sikh.
The former leader of Telford and Wrekin Council, Sahota said the remark came after he asked Philip a question regarding education funding.
“He said ‘Kuldip, you are talking through your turban’ and there was a sharp intake of breath from those around me,” Sahota said.
Dunne insults Kuldip:"Kuldip you are talking through your turban". Only after prompt by Kuldip did Dunne offer "unreserved apology". Appalling !! Church Stretton Hustings 27th Nov.Posted by Kuldip Sahota for Ludlow on Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Sahota further added, “I was shocked and deeply hurt that someone who was an MP for 14 years would make such a derogatory comment.”
“These are the kind of offensive comments I remember receiving in the 1970s.” – Kuldip Sahota
After the comments made b Philip Dunne, the organisation Sikh Tories released a statement on Twitter saying the remark was offensive and unacceptable.
“We’re disappointed by the offensive remarks made by Philip Dunne at the Ludlow hustings. These comments are simply unacceptable. We recognise he has already apologised, and hope he and others will consider their words before referring negatively to the Sikh crown in future,” wrote Sikh Tories on Twitter.
We’re disappointed by the offensive remarks made by Philip Dunne at the Ludlow hustings. These comments are simply unacceptable.We recognise he has already apologised, and hope he and others will consider their words before referring negatively to the Sikh crown in future. — Sikh Tories (@SikhTories) November 28, 2019
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, a Sikh Labour politician who is campaigning to be returned as MP for Slough, said Mr Philip’s comment was racist and called for his suspension.
The Sikh Labour politician Singh Dhesi is also the first MP to wear a turban. Singh said, “Boris Johnson is sending the message that it’s OK to be racist towards British Sikhs and openly humiliate us in public forums. Philip Dunne should be immediately suspended from the Conservative party and stripped of the honour the Tory leadership gave him this year.”
Meanwhile, Labour candidate Sahota said that Mr Philip apologised after the debate but thinks he should have said sorry straight away without his prompting.
In a statement released by Dunne on Thursday, “I apologised to Kuldip Sahota for my comments. I apologise again unreservedly for the offence caused.”
“To insult my turban is to insult my faith. This is extremely insulting to the Sikh community,” says Sahota.
The conservatives, however, are facing a lot of criticism for not taking any action over the incident in spite of the promises made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that anyone in the party who has shown prejudice or discrimination is “out first bounce”.