Tory MP Bob Stewart is reported to police in race row after telling pro-democracy tortured in the Middle East to ‘go back to Bahrain’
- Conservative MP Bob Stewart allegedly told a campaigner to ‘go back to Bahrain’
- Sayed Ahmed Alwadei complained that he had in fact been tortured in Bahrain
- Mr Alwadaei challenged the MP over donations from the Bahraini government
- Beckenham MP Mr Stewart apologised and denied his comments were ‘racist’
A campaigner who says he was tortured in Bahrain has complained to police after Tory MP Bob Stewart told him to ‘go back to Bahrain’ during a confrontation.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, alleges the comments amounted to racial abuse and has also reported the incident to the Tory party.
But the MP for Beckhenham, in London, apologised and denied his comments were racist, saying his intention was to suggest the activist should be campaigning in Bahrain.
Video footage shows Mr Stewart telling Mr Alwadaei that he is ‘taking money off my country’ as he challenged the MP on his ties to the gulf state.
Upon being challenged about his inks to Bahrain, MP Bob Stewart said: ‘Shup up you stupid man!’
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei (pictured) the director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, alleges the comments amounted to racial abuse and has also reported the incident to the Tory party
Mr Stewart told him: ‘Get stuffed. Bahrain is a great place, end of. Go away, I hate you. You make a lot of fuss, go back to Bahrain.’
Mr Alwadaei challenged the MP over donations from the Bahraini government, asking ‘how much did you sell yourself to the Bahraini regime’ as the confrontation continued.
Mr Stewart responded: ‘I didn’t, now you shut up you stupid man.’
‘You’re taking money off my country, go away,’ he added, with a dismissive wave of his hand.
Mr Alwadaei’s complaint to the police describes it as an ‘incident of racist abuse’ that took place outside the Foreign Office’s Lancaster House after an event hosted by the Bahraini embassy on Wednesday.
In a statement to the media, he added: ‘I don’t believe I would have been told to ‘go back’ to the country that violently tortured me if it weren’t for the colour of my skin.
‘No-one should be subjected to racial abuse, particularly for holding an MP to account for accepting lavish gifts from one of the world’s most repressive regimes.
‘Stewart is acting as a mouthpiece by publicly denying its notorious and extensively documented human rights abuses – abuses which have been condemned by the United Nations.’
MP Bob Stewart said: ‘Get stuffed. Bahrain is a great place, end of. Go away, I hate you. You make a lot of fuss, go back to Bahrain’
Giving Mr Alwadaei an award for his campaigning in 2020, the Index on Censorship described him as having undertaken ‘vital’ work since fleeing Bahrain nine years earlier for taking part in anti-government protests.
Mr Alwadaei, 36, says he was injured by the Bahraini police and subsequently imprisoned and tortured, and sentenced by a military court over his participation.
Mr Stewart is the chair of the all-parliamentary group on Bahrain and has accepted paid-for trips from the gulf state.
He told the PA news agency: ‘My mistake was to actually be goaded into reaction, and I apologise for that. I also apologise if anybody thinks I was being racist – I was not. ‘I meant go back to Bahrain, which is a perfectly safe place, and protest there.
‘If anyone thinks I’ve been racist I honestly didn’t mean to be, and I apologise if they think that, and I wasn’t.’
Mr Stewart, a former British Army officer who was stationed in Bahrain in 1969 and has represented Beckenham since 2010, praised the gulf state as a ‘wonderful place to live’, adding: ‘You can worship anything you like in Bahrain – you can worship a tree.’
Parliamentary records show Mr Stewart registered flights, accommodation and meals worth £5,349 during a four-day trip to Bahrain in November last year paid for by its ministry of foreign affairs.
A separate entry covered by the Bahraini government shows another trip to visit an air show and meet its foreign minister being worth £1,245.56.
Mr Alwadaei wrote in a complaint to Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi saying the MP’s comments violated the party’s code of conduct on ‘minimum standards of behaviour’.
He also wrote a complaint to Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone, alleging Mr Stewart’s remarks breached the MPs’ code of conduct.
A Conservative Party spokesman: ‘We have an established code of conduct and formal processes where complaints can be made in confidence. This process is rightly confidential.’
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