Racism controversy for former UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia and HSBC executive, who told students, “The Arabic mind is empty”

Racism controversy for former UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia and HSBC executive, who told students, “The Arabic mind is empty”

Racism controversy for former UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia and HSBC executive who told students, “The Arabic mind is empty.”
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles allegedly stated last month at a dinner at the University of Oxford, “the Arabic mind is empty compared to the Chinese.”

A senior executive at HSBC and former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia was at the center of a racism controversy last night over allegations that he told students that “the Arabic mind is empty.”

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles allegedly stated at a dinner at the University of Oxford last month that he wished he had learned Chinese instead of Arabic when he was a diplomat because China is’more fascinating’.

According to sources who relayed his comments to The Mail on Sunday, Sir Sherard, chief of public affairs at HSBC, stated that “the Arabic mind is empty in comparison to the Chinese.” His allegedly inflammatory statements were condemned.

Author and prominent Arab commentator Abdel Bari Atwan told this newspaper last night, “It is racially motivated and in no way acceptable.”

‘It is unquestionably extremely humiliating for the Arabs. To claim that a person’s intellect is empty is a grave insult. I don’t understand how a former diplomat could have said such things.’

Sir Sherard, 68, who is also the chairman of the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) lobbying group, issued a statement last night in which he said, “These selective comments, which have been taken out of context, were personal remarks made at a private event to increase understanding of China.”

They do not represent the opinions of HSBC or CBBC.

In June, he apologized for remarks he made at a separate event behind closed doors in London.

The speech’s details were released just days after his apology. In that instance, he deemed the United Kingdom to be ‘weak’ for submitting to US demands in its approach to Beijing.

The Minister for the Cabinet Office has learnt that his most recent remarks were made at the start of a dinner hosted by the Great Britain-China Centre, a government-funded quango, and attended by so-called ‘future leaders’ who are beginning a ‘crash course’ on China.

During an impromptu speech to welcome the students, Sir Sherard reportedly told them that after joining the Foreign Office in the late 1970s, he decided to acquire Arabic due to the significance of the Middle East in international affairs.

At the time, he quipped, the department was known as the “camel corps.”

The Minister of State is aware that he did not use notes and that his speech was not recorded. According to one of the attendees, the former diplomat regretted not acquiring Chinese because “the Arabic mind is empty in comparison to the Chinese.”

A second individual recalled that, in a ‘joking manner,’ Sir Sherard asserted that, “in comparison to the Chinese mind, the Arab mind is relatively empty.”

Friday, when The Mail on Sunday approached Sir Sherard at his £2 million home in West London, he did not refute making the comments.

He served as British ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2003 to 2006.

The Saudis reportedly admired the stern manner in which the man they dubbed ‘Abu Henry’ – after his eldest son – responded to Al Qaeda terrorist attacks.

When he claimed that the streets of Saudi cities were safer than those of Nottingham, he was compelled to issue a contrite apology.

The foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, paid Sir Sherard, who had two pet falcons named Nour and Alwaleed, a glowing tribute when he departed to become the British ambassador in Afghanistan.

Those in attendance at the dinner claim that Sir Sherard criticized Lord Patten of Barnes, the Chancellor of the University of Oxford and Britain’s previous governor of Hong Kong, for knowing “nothing” about China.

Sir Sherard, who oversaw the Hong Kong department of the Foreign Office in the mid-1990s, reportedly clashed with Lord Patten over efforts to democratize the colony prior to its surrender to China in 1997.

The HSBC refused to comment.

TDPel Media

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