LONDON, by far the largest city in Britain, is also its most diverse.

More than a third of the population was born outside Britain, and over 20 percent are not British nationals, according to the Office for National Statistics.

MANY LONDONERS are proud to be part of a city that is both very English and exceptionally multicultural.

So when the comedian and Monty Python star John Cleese questioned the city's Englishness in a  Twitter post, London's defenders rose up on social media.

''Some years ago I opined that London was not really an English city any more,'' he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday, adding that ''virtually all'' his friends from abroad had confirmed his observation.

The 79-year-old Mr. Cleese left Britain for the Caribbean island of Nevis last year; a decision he said had been based on a general disappointment with Britain - specifically ''the lying and triviality'' of British Newspapers and the ''depressing'' standard of debate around Brexit.

[Mr. Cleese voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum.]
''I note also that London was the UK city that voted most strongly to remain in the E.U.'',  he added in his tweet.

Those who found the tweet disturbing including Mayor Sadiq Khan of London, who became the city's first Muslim mayor in 2016 and has been a fierce defender of London's multiculturalism.

''Londoners know that our diversity is our greatest strength,'' Mr. Khan wrote on Twitter. ''We are proudly the English capital, a European city and a global hub.''

In addition to being one of the creators of ''Monty Python's Flying Circus,'' Mr. Cleese played the eminently English innkeeper, Bail Fawlty in the BBC sitcom ''Fawlty Towers'' first broadcast in 1975.

''These comments make John Cleese sound like he's in character as Bail Fawlty,'' Mr Khan wrote.

Others posted variations  on  that theme, including a screenshot of Mr. Cleese in the role of Mr. Fawlty punching the Spanish born waiter Manuel in the lobby of his hotel. others suggested that his comments were racially motivated.

As part of the often-provocative Monty Python troupe, Mr. Cleese has defended the role of comedy in a democratic society.

In recent years, he campaigned on behalf of the Liberal Democrats to change how members of  parliament are elected and for more oversight of the tabloid press, which he particularly despises.

Some users on Twitter said they were sad about Mr. Cleese's  comments. ''I know he has grown old and grumpy etc., etc. but he was a great hero of mine,'' wrote Andrew Scott, a writer and playwright based in London who posts under the name of Otto English.

Mr. Cleese has declined a state honor from the queen, calling it ''silly'', and turned down an offer to join the House of Lords as a peer - because, he said, it would have involved staying in England for the winter.

The World Students Society thanks author Palko Karasz.


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