NRI candidate in row with UK daily over Islam

Pandya, 31, is the candidate for the UK Independence Party (UKIP), a party that is opposed to Britain's membership of the European Union. In 2010, the party polled 3.1 per cent of the votes, did not win any seat but was the fourth largest party in terms of the popular vote.

The by-election is scheduled for today, along with elections to local councils and a referendum on Britain’s voting system.

Leicester Mercury, the local newspaper, flayed Pandya for his remarks in an editorial titled 'UKIP shows itself as silly and nasty'.

The editorial said: "It is not our normal practice, as a politically neutral newspaper, to criticise an individual party during an election campaign, but we will make an exception with UKIP.

".....Leicester South hopeful Abhijit Pandya has said the anti-Islamic diatribe published on his blog was an attempt to highlight issues regarding integration and employment 'which we should not shy away from discussing'."

The editorial went on to say: "Really? To us it seemed like a wildly inflammatory rant which boiled down to a crass and nasty characterisation of Muslims as lazy, intolerant spongers who are a threat to the British way of life. It was not part of a reasoned debate about multiculturalism, but a series of sweeping, unsubstantiated generalisations which demonise the Muslim community".

Pandya responded by posting a video on blog in which he is seen at the office of the Leicester Mercury, apparently angry that the door was closed and there was no one to discuss the editorial with him on Sunday.

Today, the newspaper responded by publishing a transcript of the video as part of a report titled 'Leicester by-election candidate's anger at criticism of blog post'.

Pandya says in the video: "They have published something that says 'do not vote UKIP' and that's just absolutely extraordinary for a newspaper to do that. Does that mean that a newspaper is completely unbiased and doing the public a favour by neutral reporting? I don't think so. There are issues here that we really need to confront and look at, and this newspaper is not giving me a fair say in its coverage and also telling people not to vote for my party."

In the blog, Pandya wrote: "Islamic culture inherently rejects the Western way of life, more specifically the Protestant work ethic that has successfully built the economies of the West. It is also fundamentally socially intolerant, closing itself off to the rest of society and local communities and forming ghettos that are economically dysfunctional and ethically espouse, perhaps without realising it, intolerance that undermines both social and human capital".

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