BELFAST – Muslims in Northern Ireland have welcomed Ian Paisley’s apology for retweeting a controversial remark on Ramadan by right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins.
“We have contacted Ian Paisley MP directly to clarify his position on the controversial tweet and to ask him to confirm his commitment to equality for all citizens, regardless of faith, and his abhorrence of bigotry,” the Belfast Islamic Center said in a statement, Irish Times reported.
“We welcome his Twitter apology and the DUP statement condemning it.”
The controversy started after Paisley, he North Antrim MP, retweeted a controversial remark on Ramadan by right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins which read: “March 2018. London has a higher murder rate than New York… And Ramadan’s not yet begun.”
The DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) representative subsequently apologized to his Twitter followers.
“Mea culpa earlier today I glanced at a tweet & rt about # of murders in London. Didn’t take cognisance of Ramadan ref. Once brought to my attention immediately deleted. Apologise profusely for offence caused,” he wrote on Twitter.
The DUP is to consider whether to take action against Paisley at its next internal meeting.
“Ian Paisley retweeted a comment originally posted on Twitter by Katie Hopkins from his personal Twitter account,” said a party statement.
“He has subsequently removed it. The original tweet was totally inappropriate and the DUP deplores its sentiments. The party officers will consider this matter at their next meeting.”
Belfast Muslims welcomed Paisley’s apology, inviting him to visit the Islamic center.
“We extend an invitation to him to come and visit us and meet some of the local Muslim community,” the center’s statement added.