Laurence Fox apologises to Sikhs for 'clumsy' 1917 comments

Laurence Fox has apologised for comments he made about the inclusion of a Sikh soldier in a World War One film.

The actor had previously referred to "the oddness in the casting" of a Sikh soldier in Sir Sam Mendes' movie 1917.

"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," Fox tweeted.

"Please accept my apology for being clumsy in the way I expressed myself."

His original comments attracted widespread criticism and historians drew attention to the contribution of Sikhs in the British Army during World War One.

About 130,000 Sikh men took part in the war, making up 20% of the British Indian Army, according to the WW1 Sikh Memorial Fund.

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Speaking on the James Delingpole podcast at the weekend, 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'."

The former Lewis star also responded to Delingpole's comments about film-makers "shoehorning" people of different ethnicities into dramas.

Fox said: "It is kind of racist - if you talk about institutional racism, which is what everyone loves to go on about, which I'm not a believer in, there is something institutionally racist about forcing diversity on people in that way. You don't want to think about [that].'

Fox later appeared on ITV's Good Morning Britain, where he said the film, which has 10 Oscar nominations, was a "great movie" but that the casting "felt incongruous". He also said people "shouldn't be afraid to say how they feel".

Presenter Piers Morgan told Fox his comments were "insulting to solders who had served" and were "an unfortunate thing to have said" and co-host Susanna Reid added: "Sikhs fought with British forces, not just with their own regiments - it's a historical fact."

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