British diplomat calls Harmandir Sahib the 'Golden Mosque'

India

24 Apr 2018

British diplomat calls Golden Temple a 'mosque,' faces ire

The head of Britain's diplomatic service in the Foreign Office, Sir Simon McDonald, faced the wrath of the public after calling the Golden Temple in Amritsar a 'mosque.'

McDonald made the mistake while posting a photo of British Deputy High Commissioner Andrew Ayre with social activist Harjinder Singh Kukreja at the world-famous Sikh shrine yesterday.

He has since issued an apology.

The controversial post by McDonald

Protest

'This sort of ignorance breeds hate, has resulted attacks'

'This sort of ignorance breeds hate, has resulted attacks'

The Sikh Federation (UK) gave McDonald 24 hours to apologize for the gaffe. "It demonstrates a remarkable level of ignorance from someone in his position," said chairperson Bhai Amrik Singh.

"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?"

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Apology

McDonald apologizes, but Sikh Federation not satisfied

Ten hours later, McDonald apologized. "I was wrong: I am sorry. I should of course have said the Golden Temple or, better, Sri Harmandir Sahib," he tweeted.

But Singh isn't satisfied. "In our view a public apology and admitting the mistake isn't not enough. What we need is a commitment from the UK Government and senior civil servants to root out such ignorance and discrimination."

Should a public apology be enough?

During times of intense media scrutiny, public personalities like McDonald have to take utmost care of their social media posts. But Singh's demand makes sense; if the issue isn't addressed at its roots, similar incidents of ignorance will keep occurring, which might take violent forms.

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