A SENIOR UK diplomat apologised on Tuesday (1) after he incorrectly identified a Sikh temple as a mosque in northern India.
Simon McDonald, permanent under-secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, had tweeted on Monday (30) referring to a picture of the “Golden Mosque” in Amritsar, northern India.
After the error was made, the UK Sikh Federation gave McDonald 24 hours to apologise to the Sikh community for calling the Sikhs’ holiest shrine a “mosque”. However, McDonald realised his mistake and quickly apologised, writing: “I was wrong: I am sorry. I should of course have said the Golden Temple or, better, Sri Harmandir Sahib”.
Bhai Amrik Singh, chairman of the Sikh Federation, said: “This was a major gaffe by a top civil servant and totally unacceptable. It demonstrates a remarkable level of ignorance from someone in his position.”
The mistake is particularly sensitive because of suspicions of British involvement in the Indian army’s deadly 1984 raid on the Golden Temple.
At least 400 people were killed in the Indian army’s attack on the temple, which was aimed at flushing out armed separatists demanding an independent Sikh homeland.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has vowed that if he were to become prime minister, he would launch an independent investigation to address Britain’s role during the raid.