A Conservative general election candidate told a rival at a debate he was “talking through his turban”.
Tory Philip Dunne is seeking to be returned as MP for the Shropshire constituency of Ludlow and was speaking during hustings in Church Stretton on Wednesday evening.
Labour candidate Kuldip Sahota said he was “shocked and deeply hurt” by Mr Dunne’s words.
Mr Dunne said he apologised “unreservedly for the offence caused”.
The Conservative party has been contacted for comment.
Mr Sahota, former leader of Telford and Wrekin Council, said the remark came after he asked Mr Dunne a question about education funding.
“He said ‘Kuldip, you are talking through your turban’ and there was a sharp intake of breath from those around me,” Mr Sahota said.
He added: “I was shocked and deeply hurt that someone who was an MP for 14 years would make such a derogatory comment.
“These are the kind of offensive comments I remember receiving in the 1970s.”
Mr Sahota said he stood up to say he was offended after Mr Dunne “carried on talking for about 15 minutes”.
The Labour candidate said: “He apologised after that, but I think he should have said sorry straight away without my prompting.
“To insult my turban is to insult my faith.
“This is extremely insulting to the Sikh community.”
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Philip Dunne, who was a minister in David Cameron and Theresa May’s governments, told the BBC: “I apologised to Kuldip Sahota for my comments last night.
“I apologise again unreservedly for the offence caused.”
Sikh politician Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who is campaigning to be returned as Labour MP for Slough, called Mr Dunne’s comment a “disgusting, racist remark”.
Campaign group Sikhs4Labour also accused Mr Dunne of racism.