• Friday, June 21, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Tory lawmaker fined for racially abusing activist

Bob Stewart, 74, was convicted of a racially aggravated public order offence

Bob Stewart MP (Photo: parliament.uk)

By: Pramod Thomas

A British lawmaker who once commanded UN peacekeeping troops in Bosnia was fined after being found guilty of racial abuse.

Tory MP Bob Stewart, 74, was convicted of a racially aggravated public order offence on Friday (3) and ordered to pay £600 ($743) plus costs after a one-day trial at a court in central London.

The former army officer had been confronted by human rights activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei after an event at the Bahraini Embassy in December last year.

Alwadaei, who was protesting outside, shouted: “Bob Stewart, for how much did you sell yourself to the Bahraini regime?”

The MP replied: “Go away, I hate you. You make a lot of fuss. Go back to Bahrain.”

In footage played during a trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Stewart told Alwadaei: “You’re taking money off my country, go away”.

He also said: “Now shut up, you stupid man.”

The activist told judge Paul Goldspring he was exercising his right to protest alleged corruption and human rights violations in the Middle Eastern country by questioning Stewart.

He said he had not intended to insult the MP, whom he accused of being financed by Bahrain and of acting as a “well-known defender” of the regime.

The protester also claimed that during a trip to the country, Stewart had chanted “God save the king of Bahrain”.

“I feel that I was dehumanised, like I was someone who is not welcomed in the UK,” Alwadaei said when asked about the exchange.

Alwadaei, the director of the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said if he did return to Bahrain, he would “undoubtedly be killed and tortured”.

Stewart, apologised for his remarks last December, telling the Guardian newspaper, which first reported the incident, he had been “persistently taunted”.

He commanded United Nations peacekeeping forces in Bosnia during the Balkans conflict in the 1990s, retiring from the military in 1996 before becoming an MP in 2010.

During the hearing, Stewart insisted: “I am not a racist.”

Goldspring said: “I accept he is not racist per se, but that is not the case against him. Good men can do bad things.”

(AFP)

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