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Nesbitt slammed for using Nazi quote over cash for mosque claim

By Allan Preston

Published 18/05/2016

Criticism: Mike Nesbitt
Criticism: Mike Nesbitt

Mike Nesbitt has been accused of poor judgment after quoting Hitler's propaganda chief to reject rumours he supported public funding for a mosque in Belfast.

The Ulster Unionist leader tweeted a picture of Joseph Goebbels with the words: "A lie, repeated a thousand times, becomes the truth", adding: "How true, all of you who accused me of wanting public money for a mosque in Belfast."

In April, he made a similar statement on Facebook, writing: "No one is admitting responsibility for spreading the rumour. But hey, propaganda worked for Hitler, for a while."

As Hitler's minister for propaganda, Goebbels exercised an iron grip over the media and cultural life in Nazi Germany.

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson called Mr Nesbitt's use of the reference careless.

"The use of fascist mass murderers to make a point seems to me to be something that's off the scale and perhaps something that somebody of Mr Nesbitt's calibre should reflect on (before saying it)," he told the BBC.

Mr Dickson added that politicians needed to be more careful on social media.

"I just think it's important given the sort of comments that others like Boris Johnson, Gerry Adams and the like have said in the last few weeks and months," he said. "There's a lesson that needs to be learned there."

DUP councillor Peter Martin joined in the criticism, tweeting: "Mike Nesbitt has apparently quoted Joseph Goebbels (like its a good thing)."

Comedian Jake O'Kane also tweeted his disapproval, sarcastically calling it "a brilliant start from Northern Ireland's new Opposition leader."

Responding to the criticism, a spokesman for the Ulster Unionist Party said: "The point is that people spread lies using social media."

Mr Nesbitt said previously he was the victim of "a politically motivated rumour".

He wrote online: "I have visited the Belfast Islamic Centre in Wellington Park. It is clearly past its best and I have no difficulty supporting the hospital consultants and others who want a better community hub.

"They are applying for planning permission to move to the building in the attached image. No towers. No minarets. No loudspeakers to blast out the call to prayers.

"No one is admitting responsibility for spreading the rumour. But hey, propaganda worked for Hitler, for a while."

He concluded: "So, for the avoidance of doubt - I do not support the use of public money to build a mosque."

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