Tory leadership hopeful Rory Stewart surprises Twitter users with fluent Dari
Conservative leadership candidate Rory Stewart has won plaudits after posting a video of himself speaking in Dari, the language of Afghanistan.
The International Development Secretary tweeted the clip of himself on Monday speaking to a member of the public in Barking, east London.
“Practising my now – rather rusty – Dari,” he said.
Mr Stewart, seen by bookmakers as an outsider for the top job, lived in Afghanistan for several years as chairman of a human development organisation.
He has since been called upon as a political adviser on the country and presented a BBC documentary called Afghanistan: The Great Game.
Social media commentators noted that his “rusty” use of the language was actually quite impressive.
“One of the better conversational Daris I’ve heard from expats,” wrote author and Afghanistan analyst Ahmad Shuja.
Former Conservative MEP Sajjad Karim tweeted: “This is what Britain needs in its leader today. I’m supporting Rory for leader of @Conservatives because he has what it takes.”
And Kabul-based journalist Thomas Watkins responded: “Sounds pretty good to me…”
Several compared Mr Stewart to Pete Buttegieg, the multilingual outsider for the US Democratic presidential nomination.
But Muslim Channel 4 News journalist Fatima Manji questioned whether it would get him the support he needed to become Tory leader.
She responded: “Afareen Agha Stewart! But most of the people you’re meeting aren’t members of the Tory party … so what’s the strategy for securing the leadership here?”
Dari, a form of Persian, is one of two national languages of Afghanistan and is also known as Farsi.
Mr Stewart, who studied at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, said he has studied 10 other languages, including Latin, Greek, Indonesian and Serbo-Croat.
He was briefly a tutor to Princes Harry and William during his time at Oxford.
In something of a counterpoint, Mr Stewart posted a video the following day inviting people to meet him in affluent Kew Gardens, west London.
He said the “slightly absurd” setting was a reminder of “the things we have in common”, such as our environment and climate.