Students at Scottish uni sorry for burning Obama effigy

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The president of a Conservative party students association at Scotland's most prestigious university apologised on Wednesday after the group burned an effigy of US President Barack Obama.

The Obama figure was set alight at the weekend by the Conservative and Unionist Association at St Andrews, the university where Prince William and his wife Catherine studied.

"President Obama is an important ally to the British government," association president Matthew Marshall told the BBC.

"It was a stupid thing to do and we apologise for any offence caused."

The model, made of straw and sacks, was burnt on a local beach at the university town on Scotland's east coast, The Times newspaper reported.

It was an effigy only in name as it was not recognisable as Obama, according to the paper.

A source told The Times that it was an annual tradition to burn a "heretic" every year, and in the past an effigy of former prime minister Gordon Brown was torched.

The university said it was aware of reports of the incident and had asked to meet the association president to discuss "very understandable concerns".

John Park, a Labour member of the Scottish parliament whose constituency includes St Andrews, urged Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to take action.

"Burning an effigy of anyone is offensive, let alone the first black president of the United States," he said.

"The overtones are deeply unpleasant.

"I hope the prime minister... and the Conservative party take action against their activists."

© 2011 AFP

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