LONDON (AP) — A British lawmaker from the ruling Conservative Party has been charged with racist abuse against a Bahraini activist, London police said on Monday.
Bob Stewart, 73, reportedly told Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei to “go back to Bahrain” after the December 14 altercation outside a historic Foreign Ministry building in the heart of the capital.
Stewart, who is currently chairman of the parliamentary group on Bahrain, also allegedly told Alwadaei, 36, to “get stuffed” and that he is “taking money away from my country”.
The incident was caught on video and widely shared on social media. Shortly after the exchange became public, Stewart said he made a mistake and was pressured into responding.
London’s Metropolitan Police, which launched an investigation after Alwadaei lodged a complaint about the incident outside Lancaster House, accused Stewart of using “threatening or abusive language or behavior or disorderly and the offense was aggravated by race”.
Regarding the same incident, Stewart was also accused of using “threatening or abusive language or behavior likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.” Police said the additional charge was added in order “to leave discretion to the court over the racial element of the allegation”.
Alwadaei said he was living in exile after being tortured in the Gulf state following his participation in anti-government protests. He is Director of Advocacy at the UK-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, whose self-proclaimed mission is to “promote human rights and effective accountability in Bahrain”.
Stewart, a former British Army officer best known for his command of UN peacekeeping forces in Bosnia in the early 1990s, will appear in Westminster Magistrates’ Court on July 5.