The Liberal Democrats have mistakenly sent a card to a Christian wishing him a ‘Happy Eid’ because he has a ‘Muslim-sounding’ name.
The Watford-based resident, who wishes to be anonymous, received the card from Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate Sal Brinton.
He thought he had been categorised as a Muslim on the party’s mailing list because of his surname.
The party said the card was sent to names drawn from “best guess” data, with those known not to be Muslims taken off.
The Christian man said: “A long time ago I was a Muslim but I converted to Christianity. Somehow they categorised me as a Muslim and the question is how and why. I personally think that’s ethically wrong.
“You have to abide by certain processes and categorising people by their ethnicity, colour or religion is the wrong thing to do.
“I asked my neighbours if they got it and of course, they didn’t. They’re not of Asian descent so they definitely didn’t get this.”
Susan Gaszczak, a Watford Liberal Democrats representative, said: “We send out Eid cards on a yearly basis, as we do Christmas cards.
“The data we use is based on the electoral roll and MOSAIC data, which is a ‘best guess’. This is the type of data used by direct marketing firms.
“We then go through every name manually and remove the ones that we know not to be Muslim. Inevitably there are some that do go out to non-Muslims but when they contact us we then correct our data.”
Political blogger Cranmer commented on the story saying that the card was sent purely on the grounds that the man has “a ‘Muslim-sounding’ name, and therefore was presumed to be a Muslim”.
“Ergo, as far as the Liberal Democrats are concerned, one’s religion is determined by one’s surname, and one is then appropriately categorised. This is Liberal Democrat campaign strategy – classification according to ethnicity, skin colour, or religion.
Simon Calvert of The Christian Institute said: “How patronizing for Watford Lib Dems to assume, for the sake of a PR exercise, that every Asian-sounding name on the electoral role is a Muslim.
“This case typifies the religious illiteracy of the political classes.
“Religion is not simply an ethnic phenomenon. Certainly within Christianity you will find people of every race and ethnic background.
“This confusion between race and religion is one of the reasons why politicians and others are often so over-sensitive about offending minority religions.”