Polish award for philosopher Roger Scruton who faced British controversy over Islamaphobic comments

Philosopher Sir Roger Scruton caused controversy over comments about homosexuality, Islamophobia and Jews

Polish President Andrzej Duda has bestowed an honour on Sir Roger Scruton. AFP
Polish President Andrzej Duda has bestowed an honour on Sir Roger Scruton. AFP

Poland's president has bestowed a prestigious state honour on a prominent British philosopher who was sacked from an official advisory role earlier this year as a row raged over his alleged comments about Jews and Islamophobia.

English philosopher, Sir Roger Scruton, was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland on Tuesday. The honour was made in recognition of Sir Roger’s work with dissidents in Poland before the fall of the Iron Curtain.

The ceremony comes after Sir Roger is seeking to recover his reputation following his recent dismissal from the UK government following comments he allegedly made on homosexuality, Islamophobia and Jews.

President Andrzej Duda said Sir Roger was recognised for supporting the democratic transformation in Poland.

The ceremony came as the nation celebrated the 30th anniversary of the first partly free elections in Poland after decades of communist rule.

Sir Roger was fired by the UK's government in April as chairman of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commision, a body set up to transform the role of public housing in society. The dismissal came after he was reported to have said that homosexuality is "not normal," called Islamophobia a "propaganda word" and claimed Hungarian Jews were part of an "empire" run by billionaire George Soros.

The interview was published in the Left-wing New Statesman magazine. "Anybody who doesn’t think that there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts" and said Islamophobia had been “invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue”.

The philosopher said the journalist carrying out the interview had distorted his comments and witchhunt driven by social media ensued. A transcript emerged and the journalist apologised for his social media activity surrounding the comments. “The tapes, which can also be heard on YouTube, show clearly that the character assassination, built from the out-of-context fragments that were published, has no foundation at all,” Sir Roger wrote in the Daily Mail newspaper.

The timing of the publication fuelled the furore – it came just weeks after the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand where 51 people were killed after a far right extremist opened fire in two mosques.

He also allegedly said: “Hungarians were extremely alarmed by the sudden invasion of huge tribes of Muslims”, and accused the Chinese of “creating robots out of their own people”.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said in April: “These comments are deeply offensive and completely unacceptable, and it is right that he has been dismissed.”

The UK's Ministry of Housing said the comments were "unacceptable" but James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State, later acknowledged matters “could have been handled differently”.

Updated: June 10, 2019 02:39 PM

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