Belfast Telegraph

Peter Robinson Islam row: Ian Paisley's son slams DUP leader over remarks

By Adrian Rutherford

Ian Paisley’s son has blasted the First Minister as a “condescending ignoramus” over his controversial remarks on Muslims.

The Rev Kyle Paisley made the remarks yesterday as First Minister Peter Robinson came under further pressure to issue a public apology over his support for an anti-Islamic evangelical preacher. Pastor McConnell caused controversy when he blasted Islam as "satanic".

However Rev Paisley, who is a Free Presbyterian Minister in England, said that while there were "irreconcilable differences between the theology of Biblical Protestantism and the theology of traditional Islam", this was "no reason for any man to go out of his way in order to insult another".

Writing on Eamonn Maillie's website, the son of Mr Robinson's political mentor Lord Bannside slated the current DUP leader as "a condescending ignoramus" for saying he could only trust Muslims to "go down to the shop" for him.

"His remark leaves a deep stain on his own reputation, the reputation of his party and the reputation of the religion he professes to believe in," Rev Paisley said.

The minister went on to criticise DUP members – including his twin brother Ian – for not speaking out on this matter.

"It beggars belief that thus far not one within his party has the nerve to publicly challenge him," he said.

"Sometimes silence is golden. In this case it is plain yellow.

"If I was on the receiving end of that remark, and somebody said I wouldn't trust a Protestant except to go to the shop to buy me something, I would look upon that as a condescending remark."

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The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission yesterday revealed it has written to the UN seeking guidance on the matter.

Interim chairman John Corey said he was concerned at the effect of Pastor McConnell's sermons and subsequent public statements have had on minority communities in Northern Ireland.

It comes as Alliance MLA Anna Lo called for Mr Robinson to make a public apology for his remarks.

Ms Lo, who has said she is considering leaving Northern Ireland over the recent spate of racist attacks, said the First Minister had been "demeaning and disrespectful" to Muslims across the world.

"I believe that he must make a firm, clear and unambiguous apology in public," she said.

Mr Robinson sparked fury after saying that he would not trust Muslims involved in terrorism or Sharia law but would trust them to go to the shops for him.

On Thursday he attempted to defuse the row by saying he did not intend to cause any offence, hours before he met representatives from the Belfast Islamic Centre.

The DUP later issued a statement via a party spokesman which said Mr Robinson had outlined his views and made it clear that there was never any intention on his part to offend or cause distress to anyone.

"He said that if anyone interpreted his remarks in that way that he would apologise to them and that he would welcome the opportunity to continue conversations at the Belfast Islamic Centre," the party spokesman added.

The delegation of Muslim leaders later said they had accepted Mr Robinson's private apology.

However, other members of the Muslim community said a public apology was needed.

Mr Khan, a leading plastic surgeon who worked with Omagh bomb victims, said: "Mr Robinson does not speak for the rest of the people of Northern Ireland in his views of Muslims, similarly those two or three people who accepted his apology don't speak for us.

"We all feel very, very strongly that that apology, I'm afraid, is not good enough."

Mr Khan said the First Minister had to say sorry in public.

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinahan agreed that Mr Robinson had not been equivocal enough.

"It needs to be public to show leadership towards all the ethnic communities while at the same time we need to get the message out worldwide because the reports went out worldwide when this all started," he said.

A DUP spokesman responded saying: "We regret that Kyle has decided to make such comments. Peter Robinson has been meeting with representatives of the Muslim community over recent days and has apologised for any offence caused.

"He is looking forward to visiting the Belfast Islamic Centre at the earliest opportunity."

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