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I was quoted out of context: Earl

Earl of Mar and Kellie sought to clear the air after it was alleged his remarks "vilified" Hindus.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2003 23:20 IST
UK Bureau

The Earl of Mar and Kellie has sought to set the record straight after a report that he allegedly made some remarks supportive of a statement vilifying Hindus and their religion. It was also said that Hindus in the UK were deeply upset at the slight to their religion.

In a letter to the General Secretary of the Hindu Council UK, Anil Bhanot, which was forwarded by the latter to HindustanTimes.com's UK Bureau, the Earl has sought to clarify that he was quoted out of context and that is why the Hindus might have got irked. His observation was, he added, incomplete also as he was interrupted midway before he could complete his point.

In a report published in an Asian publication its writer had alleged that the Earl, who sits on a panel to enquire about new legislation to Religious Offences, had supported an article by the Christian Medical Fellowship's Pastor Juge Ram that alleged that the Hindus were lost and spiritually blind and that Hinduism was a false religion.

The Earl's said remarks were published in the minutes of the oral evidence given by the Hindu community to the Select Committee in November 2002. It also carried a report by the House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences. It was then alleged that Hindu leaders in the UK were shocked that one sitting at a high position in the committee could be seen to support a sweeping statement of vilification of one billion Hindus in the world.

In his clarification, the Earl has said that the point "I was trying to make was about exploring the possibility of an offence about spreading untruth about a religion or its adherents. The quoted views of Juge Ram are unfriendly to Hinduism but not lies which would cause people to form a distorted view of Hinduism. Juge Ram was attacking Hinduism, head on, for his own reasons. In an unhelpful way, he was exercising a right to free expression".

This, the Earl, said was his point of view, not heard in full. Expressing regret for the unsavoury incident, the Earl said: "I am sorry that this incident has occurred and that so many people have been upset quite unnecessarily."

The Earl also expressed his deep resentment at the way in which, he alleged, an Asian newspaper published a distorted version of his statement and of the evidence taking in November 2002. He said he was devastated by the headlines, which the Earl maintains was highlighted out of context.

First Published: Dec 24, 2003 21:35 IST