The mayor of High Wycombe has rejected calls for his resignation following the release of a statement last week about the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Khalil Ahmed, who also sits as a Labour councillor on Wycombe District Council, condemned the attacks at satirical French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, while adding that for Muslims around the world “insulting the prophet Mohammed... is a grievous matter”.

His comments divided opinion, with many of the Bucks Free Press’ readers calling for his immediate resignation.

In response to these demands, Councillor Ahmed said: “I have no intention of resigning as councillor or mayor.

“I don’t think, obviously, that I have done anything that I shouldn’t have done in that sense so I don’t think that a resignation is in anyway considered appropriate here at all.

“There are a few that have obviously called for the resignation but if you look at it in Wycombe District there are 175,000 residents [and] those that have taken to behind the keyboard, they are open to their opinions and their views, but it doesn’t reflect the wider majority.”

Councillor Ahmed, who represents the Disraeli ward on WDC, said he felt the need to release the statement, which called for religious tolerance, because the attack on Charlie Hebdo was “a massacre which affected the community”.

He added: “When I say community I mean the whole of the Wycombe community. That doesn’t obviously just mean just the Muslim community, I’m talking about all communities.

“And it had affected them and people were perhaps looking and suggested that ‘why is the mayor actually not holding a vigil for this’ so I thought I would perhaps put out a statement to that effect.

“So I put out that statement purely just to promote peace and harmony and cohesion. It wasn’t meant in any shape or form to disturb.”

Further criticism was directed at Councillor Ahmed, with readers asking why he used his position as mayor to discuss religious tolerance.

Councillor Ahmed said: “In my position I don’t think that I am restricted to put forward my viewpoint, it wasn’t to preach to anybody and say ‘this is my view I speak for all’, no.

“I perhaps could have done it from a personal basis but I do hold a post and it has come out.

“But like I said I stand by everything that I said and one thing is quite clear there is absolutely no justification, absolutely none whatsoever in terms of what has happened.”

When asked whether he thought there should be limits to freedom of speech, he said: “No, no, no. I’m not saying that there should be limits.

“All I am saying is that there needs to be tolerance. It is just understanding and tolerance of each others’ beliefs.

“That is not meaning to say that ‘freedom of speech should be restricted and all is acceptable but this’, no. Freedom of speech is exactly that but it’s just a case of using common sense.”

In Councillor Ahmed’s statement last week, he referred to blasphemy being abolished as a criminal offence in 2008 – although it only protected Christianity.

He said: “The law is as it stands at the moment. The law does protect a lot of people as it is at the moment.

“But perhaps it is just a case of... people being tolerant in terms of each other people’s beliefs; being sensitive towards others’ fundamental beliefs, perhaps.”

He added: “I don’t think that blasphemy laws should be brought in at this moment in time.”

The statement also split opinion at WDC, with Conservative council leader, Richard Scott, commenting yesterday that he disagreed with the premise that “insulting a person’s fundamental beliefs was likely to lead to unrest”.