A UKIP MEP who compared a Muslim SNP minister to a convicted terrorist has said accusations of racism against him are rich coming from a party which is "xenophobic against the English".
At a debate in London, David Coburn apologised for comments he made last week about Humza Yousaf MSP in which he said: "Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza".
But the MEP was heavily criticised throughout Tuesday evening's debate by fellow panelists Margaret Curran, the shadow Scottish secretary, and SNP MP Pete Wishart.
When the comments were called racist by Wishart, Coburn replied: "That comes from a party quite xenophobic against the English."
Coburn insisted the comments about Yousaf were a joke, and said he has not faced disciplinary action from UKIP leader Nigel Farage over the row despite calls for his suspension from the party.
"I shouldn't have said it but it was a joke," said Coburn. "I apologised immediately to Mr Yousaf and in the spirit of good business I hope that will be accepted."
He added: "I'm not perfect. People in UKIP – we are not professional politicians. We are human, we make errors. I am human, I make errors."
Wishart called on the debate audience to vote for anyone but UKIP, and branded Coburn "a racist clown".
"A number of us here are disappointed David Coburn is still here and still a part of Scottish political life after an appalling statement," said Wishart. "He compared [Yousaf] to a convicted terrorist solely because he is a Muslim.
"If none of you vote for the SNP in this election, vote for anyone other than this racist party."
Curran said she had written to Farage to call for Coburn's suspension from UKIP, and had asked for him to be removed from Tuesday night's debate panel in the days before the event.
She told the audience: "It's not good enough to say ... it was a joke, that racist statement. We should assert tonight we don't want public servants to speak in that way.
"We say tonight that David Coburn is not a proper representative of Scotland, and he speaks for a vileness across UKIP.
"If UKIP think he's good enough to be here tonight, then that speaks volumes."
Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.
Contact Jamie Ross at email@example.com.
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