24/04/2018 10:25 BST | Updated 24/04/2018 12:26 BST

Top Foreign Office Diplomat Apologises For Calling Sikh Golden Temple A Mosque

Sir Simon McDonald: 'I was wrong.'

NARINDER NANU via Getty Images

The head of Britain’s diplomatic service has apologised after he referred to one of the holiest Sikh temples as a mosque. 

Sir Simon McDonald, the Foreign Office’s top civil servant, sent a tweet on Monday evening from the Sri Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, India.

The building is also known as the Golden Temple. But McDonald called it the “Golden Mosque”.

In response, the Sikh Federation demanded McDonald apologise within 24-hours of sending the tweet.

The Foreign Office top diplomat said this morning: “I was wrong: I am sorry. I should of course have said the Golden Temple or, better, Sri Harmandir Sahib.”

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation, said the gaffe was “totally unacceptable”.

“It demonstrates a remarkable level of ignorance from someone in his position,” he said.

He added similar cases of “mistaken identity” had led to Sikh’s being “abused, attacked and in some cases killed” across the globe.

“In our view a public apology and admitting the mistake is not enough.  What we need is a commitment from the UK Government and senior civil servants to root out such ignorance and discrimination or we will continue to face hate, abuse and threats of violence.”