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Laurence Fox apologises to 'fellow humans who are #Sikhs' after 1917 comments

Mirror logo Mirror 24/01/2020 Ryan Merrifield
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Actor Laurence Fox has apologised after claiming the inclusion of a Sikh soldier in new war film 1917 was "incongruous".

The star had made the original assertion about director Sam Mendes' much-lauded film during an interview with journalist James Delingpole on Saturday, having already courted controversy on last week's Question Time.  

Following the podcast, Fox appeared on Good Morning Britain where Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid asked if he thought the soldier was out of place.

Fox said he's "not a historian" but the addition of a Sikh actor in the World War One film was "incongruous".

He said: “I think there were a lot of soldiers from the former empire fighting in World War One. I suppose it would have been less incongruous to me if he had got on the truck to a whole regiment of Sikh soldiers.”  

Susanna responded: "To call it institutionally racist is extraordinary."

Laurence Fox looking at the camera: Laurence Fox said he's 'not a historian' when asked about his comments on Good Morning Britain © Ken McKay/ITV/REX Laurence Fox said he's 'not a historian' when asked about his comments on Good Morning Britain However, historian Peter Singh Bance said the Lewis actor should "check his facts" as Sikhs did fight with British forces during the First World War "not just their own regiments".

The 41-year-old actor has since tweeted to apologise for the "clumsy way" he tried to put his point across.

He said: "Fellow humans who are #Sikhs. I am as moved by the sacrifices your relatives made as I am by the loss of all those who die in war, whatever creed or colour.

"Please accept my apology for being clumsy in the way I have expressed myself over this matter in recent days.'"

a person standing in front of a truck: 1917 director Sir Sam Mendes speaks to Nabhaan Rizwan on set during the film's production © Universal Pictures 1917 director Sir Sam Mendes speaks to Nabhaan Rizwan on set during the film's production

But followed it up with another tweet, saying he would "stand by everything else I said and will continue to do so".

This comes as Sikh MP Tan Dhesi called for the actor to apologise and said the actor's comments "prove empty vessels really do make the most noise" and make him sound "a real bigot".

In a column for the Mirror, the MP for Slough said "facts" of Sikh involvement in the war "might be inconvenient for Fox's distorted view, but they are verifiable".

"Fox is guilty of inciting a poisonous culture war on steroids, imitating the toxic tactics of Donald Trump.

"Whitewashing history is a crime against the truth," he said, adding Fox "needs to educate himself, accept he's wrong, get off his high horse and start talking sense for a change".

Mr Fox took offence to being called a "white, privileged male" by a Question Time audience member last week, during a heated discussion about whether the press' treatment of Meghan Markle is racist.

The actor called the audience member racist for trying to label him and has previously said 'woke' people are 'fundamentally racist'.

Epic film 1917 follows two British soldiers crossing No Man's Land on a perilous mission with the Germans appearing to retreat from the Western Front.

Sikh actor Nabhaan Rizwan plays Sepoy Jondalar and appears amongst a group of white soldiers in one scene, which Mr Fox took issue with, arguing it was not in keeping with the surroundings of the film.

Piers Morgan wearing a suit and tie: GMB host Piers Morgan said he had agreed with everything Laurence Fox had said about 'woke' culture until his comments about 1917 © ITV GMB host Piers Morgan said he had agreed with everything Laurence Fox had said about 'woke' culture until his comments about 1917

Speaking on The Delingpod, Mr Fox said: "It's very heightened awareness of the colour of someone's skin because of the oddness in the casting. Even in 1917 they've done it with a Sikh soldier.

"Which is great, it's brilliant, but you're suddenly aware there were Sikhs fighting in this war. And you're like 'ok'. You're now diverting me away from what the story is."

He said the casting  of Mr Rizwan only forces "a very heightened awareness of the colour of someone's skin" due to "the oddness of the casting".

But made it clear Mr Rizwan's casting "didn't bother me particularly" but said said the way it was presented was "incongruous with the story".

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Sikh soldiers were involved in some of the war's most horrific campaigns, including Ypres, Gallipoli and the Somme.

Singer Lily Allen has railed against Mr Fox, referring to him as one of the "luvvies" who are "forcing their opinions on everybody else", claiming he comes from a "gated community".

But the actor responded when on TalkRadio that she's had a "pretty privileged" upbringing herself and suggested it was hypocritical of her to speak for the "common man".

Speaking about 'woke' culture, he said: "What they are accusing you of is what they are. They are everything they accuse you of. The wokist are fundamentally racist...Identity politics is extremely racist."

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