Top UK diplomat calls Golden Temple a mosque, apologises after backlash | world news | Hindustan Times
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Top UK diplomat calls Golden Temple a mosque, apologises after backlash

“The gaffe demonstrates a remarkable level of ignorance from someone in his position,” say Sikh groups while demanding an apology from Simon McDonald.

world Updated: Apr 24, 2018 17:48 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Simon McDonald, the head of Britain’s diplomatic service in the Foreign Office apologised for calling Golden Temple a mosque during a visit to Amritsar.
Simon McDonald, the head of Britain’s diplomatic service in the Foreign Office apologised for calling Golden Temple a mosque during a visit to Amritsar.(HT file photo)

Simon McDonald, the head of Britain’s diplomatic service in the Foreign Office apologised on Tuesday for calling Golden Temple a mosque during a visit to Amritsar.

On Monday he tweeted referring to the Golden Temple as the ‘Golden Mosque’ and was widely criticised on social media.

Campaign group Sikh Federation (UK) gave him 24 hours to apologise to the Sikh community for calling the Sikhs’ holiest shrine a ‘mosque’.

McDonald apologised, tweeting: “I was wrong: I am sorry. I should of course have said the Golden Temple or, better, Sri Harmandir Sahib.”

Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: “This was a major gaffe by a top civil servant and totally unacceptable. It demonstrates a remarkable level of ignorance from someone in his position.”

“What hope is there for the average person to distinguish between Sikhs and Muslims, if someone holding his position can make such a massive blunder while visiting the Sikh homeland?”

“Unfortunately, it is this sort of ignorance or ‘mistaken identity’ that breeds hate and has resulted in Sikhs being abused, attacked and in some cases killed across the globe since 9/11.”

“In our view a public apology and admitting the mistake is not enough. What we need is a commitment from the UK Government and senior civil servants to root out such ignorance and discrimination or we will continue to face hate, abuse and threats of violence.”