Lawmakers, Muslims criticize prince over comments
Lawmakers, Muslim groups and the Pakistani public criticized Prince Harry after a British newspaper published video footage of him using offensive and racist language.world Updated: Jan 11, 2009 19:21 IST
Lawmakers, Muslim groups and the Pakistani public criticized Prince Harry on Sunday after a British newspaper published video footage of him using offensive and racist language.
Harry, third in line to the British throne and an army lieutenant, issued an apology on Saturday after the News of The World reported that he had used offensive terms to refer to people from Pakistan and people of Arab descent.
Britain's opposition Conservative Party leader David Cameron said Harry's comments undermined work to root out racism from the country's armed forces. "It is obviously a completely unacceptable thing to say," Cameron told the BBC.
Harry is purported to have made the remarks in 2006 during a visit to Cyprus to carry out training exercises with fellow military cadets. In the video, Harry is heard to refer to one colleague as "our little paki friend" using a derogatory term for people of Pakistani origin.
Iftikhar Raja told the BBC the cadet was his nephew Ahmed Raza Khan, who he said is now a captain in Pakistan's army. He said Khan graduated from the Sandhurst military school in 2006 and received an award from Queen Elizabeth II as the best overseas officer cadet. "We expect better from our Royal Family on whom we spend millions and millions of pounds for training and schooling," Raja told the BBC.
In a second video clip, Harry is heard to call another cadet who was wearing a headscarf a "raghead." The newspaper said that the video was filmed by other cadets and supplied to the newspaper. Harry's comments is sickening and he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself," said Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Ramadan Foundation a British Muslim youth organization. Labour Party lawmaker Khalid Mahmood, a Muslim, also criticized Harry over the comments. "He needs to understand that this is not acceptable, especially in light of the office that he is going to hold in the army and as a member of the Royal Family," Mahmood said.
St. James's Palace the office of Harry and his elder brother Prince William said on Saturday that Harry was sorry for any offense caused by his use of the word "paki." Spokesman Patrick Harrison said that Harry had used the other offensive term to refer to either the Taliban or Iraqi insurgents.
In Islamabad, 46-year-old driver Barkat Ali said the comments were regrettable, and called on Pakistan's government to seek an explanation from Harry and British leaders.
"Anything like this is unacceptable to us, even to anyone around the world. We have all the abilities to call the prince something or anything, and things about his father and mother, but we don't do that because we believe that is wrong," said Mohammad Arslan, a 33-year-old technician in Islamabad.
In Multan, Pakistan, schoolteacher Ibrar Ahmed said most people had more important things to worry about. "Let's be fair about it. Dogs may bark, but people go about their business," Ahmed said. Britain's defense ministry said it does not tolerate inappropriate behavior, but said no complaint had been raised against Harry over his comments.
Harry served with the British Army in Afghanistan for 10 weeks last year, but was withdrawn from the combat zone after his previously secret deployment became public.
Harry has previously acknowledged drinking underage and smoking marijuana. In January 2005, he apologized after being pictured in a newspaper at a costume party dressed as a Nazi, complete with a swastika armband.