The leader of Birmingham City Council is refusing to heed growing demands to apologise for "verbally abusing" a leading Muslim politician.
Mike Whitby found himself under fire after telling Birmingham Respect councillor Salma Yaqoob that she should consider moving to Oldham or Burnley, the scene of race riots in 2001.
His comments were made at a council meeting after Coun Yaqoob criticised the absence of ethnic minority representatives in positions of power in Birmingham.
Coun Whitby's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has an all-white cabinet and none of the scrutiny committee chairmen are from the ethnic minorities.
Newly-elected Coun Yaqoob (Sparkbrook), national vice-chair of Respect, wrote to Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) asking him to apologise.
Last night, Coun Whitby went back on the attack accusing Coun Yaqoob of "nasty politicking".
He insisted his comments had been misinterpreted.
Coun Whitby said: "Coun Yaqoob is now a member of a council which has been rightly commended for the way it handles relations with all of its diverse communities.
"I feel aggrieved our good work in this area is attacked by someone who has only been part of the council for two meetings. Such divisive political tactics do not have a place here. I made the point that if Coun Yaqoob wants to engage in this kind of nasty politicking then she shouldn't do it in Birmingham.
"It is sad if people have interpreted what I said in a way which was not intended."
In her letter, Coun Yaqoob pointed out that half of Birmingham's population are women and 30 per cent from ethnic minorities, yet only three of the 22 most senior council positions are held by women and not a single one is held by an ethnic minority councillor. She told Coun Whitby: "I was surprised to be on the end of verbal abuse.
"Your intemperate remarks demean the high office you hold and were unfitting for someone who acts as a figurehead for all communities in Birmingham."
Coun Whitby also found himself criticised by coalition members.
Shaukat Ali Khan, former leader of the Muslim-led People's Justice Party but now a Liberal Democrat councillor for Aston, said: "Mike Whitby is the leader of the council, he shouldn't have said it, it was totally uncalled for."
Although stopping short of telling Coun Whitby to apologise, he added: "I want this sorted out."
Coun Abdul Aziz (Lib Dem Aston) said: "It was not an appropriate remark to make.
"She was talking about issues of equality and diversity that quite clearly have not been addressed."
Sir Albert Bore, the leader of the Labour opposition, also wants an apology.
Sir Albert, who described Coun Whitby's remarks as distasteful, said the council leader's comments should be seen in the context of Birmingham becoming a majority-ethnic city in the next 15 years. It was vital to bring on the leaders of tomorrow, which was something the Labour group had tried to do.