The DUP has said it regrets the stinging criticism of Peter Robinson by the son of Lord Bannside.
Writing on the website of veteran journalist Eamonn Mallie last week, the Rev Kyle Paisley laid into the First Minister, accusing him of being a “condescending ignoramus”.
Rev Paisley, a twin brother of North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jnr, said remarks made by Mr Robinson in support of Pastor James McConnell were “deeply insulting”.
The England-based Free Presbyterian minister expanded on his comments in an interview with the BBC Radio Ulster Evening Extra programme on Friday.
He said that the fact Mr Robinson had privately apologised to local Muslim leaders was positive and “an unusual thing for politicians to do these days”.
But he said “it’s just a pity that the apology wasn’t public because the offence was public”.
Following an anti-Islamic sermon by Pastor McConnell at Belfast’s Whitewell Tabernacle on May 18, Mr Robinson offered support to the under-fire preacher.
In a newspaper interview, Mr Robinson said that he himself would not trust Muslims for spiritual guidance, but would trust them to “go down to the shops” for him.
Last night a DUP spokesman said: “We regret that Kyle has decided to make such comments.
“Peter Robinson has been meeting with representatives of the Muslim community over recent days and has apologised for any offence caused.
“He is looking forward to visiting the Belfast Islamic Centre at the earliest
The Evangelical Alliance – a body which represents many tens of thousands of evangelicals in Northern Ireland – has criticised some of the recent comments made about Muslims.
“We now have the very unfortunate situation that some minority groups in Northern Ireland feel less safe and less welcome.
“This is at odds with the Christian responsibility to ‘seek the peace and prosperity of the city’,” it said in a statement.
Responding to Peter Robinson’s Muslim comments, Rev Kyle Paisley said that although there are “irreconcilable differences” between Protestant theology and Islam, “this is no reason for any man to go out of his way in order to insult another”.
In response to the First Minister’s remark about trusting a Muslim to go to the shop, Rev Paisley, above, said: “His remark leaves a deep stain on his own reputation, the reputation of his party and the reputation of the religion he professes to believe in.”
Accusing DUP members of cowardice, he said: “It beggars belief that thus far not one within his party has the nerve to publicly challenge him. Sometimes silence is golden. In this case it is plain yellow!”
He denied his criticism was related to a perceived feud between the Paisley and Robinson families.