A council election candidate has resigned from Britain's ruling Conservative Party with immediate effect, apologizing for posting anti-Islamic and anti-gay comments on Twitter.
"I have let myself and my party down," David Bishop, a candidate in Brentwood South in Essex, said in a statement Sunday. "In order to avoid any further embarrassment, I have taken the decision to resign from the Conservative party with immediate effect. I will not be asking anyone to vote for me on 22 May."
Last month, Bishop, who is also a local DJ, tweeted, "#Islam 'the religion of peace' & rape," referring to the arrest of four Muslim men for the rape of a 14-year-old girl in Chesham, Buckinghamshire.
Another tweet by him read: "It's good to be anti-Islam." His other tweets included: "A lesbian kiss on @bbceastenders before the watershed … okay BBC diversity soldiers we get it, now stop trying so hard #pathetic."
Bishop also posted links to videos of the controversial comedian Pat Condell who said Islam is a "religion of war" and that the prophet Muhammad had a "psychological disorder," according to The Independent.
"David's decision to step down was the right thing to do and I am pleased the party has backed this and accepted his resignation from the team and from the party," BBC quoted Louise McKinlay, group leader of Brentwood Conservatives, as saying.
Bishop had earlier claimed the tweets had been posted to make such views look stupid. But he has now offered an "unreserved" apology.
"I unreservedly apologize for publishing inappropriate tweets and retweets and I am sorry for the real offence caused," Bishop said in the statement. "I recognise that someone standing for public office should show leadership and seek to unite communities, not divide them. I hope the residents of Brentwood South can forgive my lack of judgement in time."
The Tory party has also announced the suspension of Harry Perry, another candidate who tweeted that Islam is "evil" and homosexuality is an "abomination before god."
The Conservative Party has also criticized views expressed on Twitter by Stephen Lees, an activist in the Croydon area of south London. He wrote on Twitter, "Every single Muslim should be expelled from this country – not deported – expelled, and every mosque demolished."
"Stephen Lees is not a member of the Conservative party according to local records checked today," The Guardian quoted a party spokesman as saying. "The local association has also confirmed that he is not a party activist, and has no formal ties to the Conservative party."