“The discrimination could be on religious grounds."
Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has been accused of fuelling anti-Hindu tensions amid a race row regarding a nursery place for his daughter.
Mr Yousaf said his two-year-old daughter had been refused a place at a nursery but children with Western sounding names had been accepted.
He and his wife Nadia El-Nakla have now launched legal action against Little Scholars Day Nursery who previously denied the allegation.
But the couple’s lawyer Aamer Anwar said that Ms El-Nakla and her daughter were “subjected to discrimination” under the Equality Act 2010, according to the BBC.
The couple had given Little Scholars two weeks to offer a settlement, public apology and compensation to an anti-racist charity of their choice but this was not met so court action ensued.
Mr Yousaf was accused of stoking anti-Hindu tensions after he claimed Hindus could behave racially towards Muslims because of religion.
On Jeremy Vine’s BBC Radio 2 show in early August 2021, he said:
“All we have heard from the owners is they have an ethnic origin and can’t possibly be racist.
“I am from a Scottish Asian descent and can tell you now, Asian people can be racist.”
Asked whether this was possible, the politician replied:
“Of course. But again, throughout my life, I’ve heard from people in the Asian community being racist towards black people, for example, but yes.
“The discrimination could be on religious grounds. I don’t know.”
This prompted backlash from the President of the Indian Council of Scotland, Neil Lal.
Mr Lal said it was “highly inflammatory” and added:
“This is unacceptable. In our community’s view, Mr Yousaf used the interview to stir up racial tensions between Hindus and Muslims.
“He said the row to deny his daughter a place may be considered anti-Islamic.”
“He questioned the diversity at the nursery and, when quizzed if Hindus can behave racially towards Muslims, he said, ‘Of course’.”
The Indian Council of Scotland President, who is a prominent Tory supporter, has now issued a complaint to the Scottish Government, accusing Mr Yousaf of breaking ministerial code.
Mr Lal continued: “We feel we have had no option but to complain about the Health Minister’s conduct in this sorry saga.
“The Hindu/Indian community in Scotland is a hard-working, educated, successful, law-abiding community and we’ve registered our formal objection to Mr Yousaf’s conduct.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The issue regarding the nursery is a private matter, separate to the Health Secretary’s ministerial responsibilities.
“Mr Yousaf has a strong record of standing up against all forms of hatred and utterly rejects all forms of prejudice and discrimination.”