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British lawmaker accused of racism over tweet

- Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2012

LONDON (AP) - A prominent British lawmaker said Thursday she was sorry if people were offended by a tweet criticizing "white people."

Politicians from other parties accused Labour's Diane Abbott of racism and called for her resignation after she posted on Twitter: "White people love playing 'divide & rule.' We should not play their game."

The tweet was part of an online exchange about the aftermath of the sentencing of two white men for the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. It was later deleted.

Abbott said that "people have interpreted my comments as making generalizations about white people."

"I do not believe in doing that. I apologize for any offense caused," she said in a statement.

Conservative legislator Nadhim Zahawi said Abbott's comment was "outrageous" and she should resign. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a Liberal Democrat, said Abbott had made a "stupid and crass generalization."

Abbott became the first black woman elected to Parliament in 1987 and is Labour's health spokeswoman. She has a high profile from frequent television appearances.

She said on Twitter Thursday that her tweet had referred to the "nature of 19th century European colonialism" and had been taken out of context.

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