Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Islamic Centre invite to DUP's Paisley after Katie Hopkins retweet furore

The Belfast Islamic Centre has extended an invitation to Ian Paisley after he retweeted anti-Islamic material.

On Monday evening, the DUP MP retweeted controversial commentator Katie Hopkins, who wrote on Twitter London has a higher murder rate than New York, and that "Ramadan's not yet begun".

Mrs Hopkins has previously been investigated by the Metropolitan Police for online comments linking terrorist attacks in Europe with the Islamic observation of fasting during the celebration of Ramadan, which will run from May 15 to June 14 in 2018.

Mr Paisley later deleted the retweet stating he had "glanced" at it, and had not noticed the Ramadan reference, and that once it was brought to his attention he had "immediately deleted".

A DUP spokesperson said: "The original tweet was totally inappropriate and the DUP deplores its sentiments. The Party Officers will consider this matter at their next meeting."

Writing on its Facebook page, a spokesperson for the Belfast Islamic Centre said the timing of Mr Paisley's retweet was "particularly unfortunate", with it being on the eve of "the rumoured 'Punish a Muslim Day'".

A national police probe was launched last month in England into letters posted out across the country calling for people to commit violent acts against Muslims on April 3.

In the post, a spokesperson for the centre called on Mr Paisley to "confirm his commitment to equality for all citizens, regardless of faith, and his abhorrence of bigotry" and that it extended "an invitation to him to come and visit us and meet some of the local Muslim community".

The full statement read: "We are aware of the retweeting of a controversial statement yesterday [Monday] by a local MP. The timing was particularly unfortunate on the eve of the rumoured 'Punish a Muslim Day' when many of the community are particularly anxious.

"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.

"We welcome his twitter apology and the DUP statement condemning it. We extend an invitation to him to come and visit us and meet some of the local Muslim community."

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