A petition calling for the government to ban anti-Islam group Britain First has prompted a statement from the Home Office condemning those who “seek to spread hate by demonising British Muslims”. More than 12,000 people and an anti-Islamophobia charity have now demanded ministers take action against the Christian conservative group.
The petition accuses Britain First of being an “extremist offshoot of the BNP”, adding: “Via the internet and social media the group spews out anti-Muslim propaganda in order to fulfil their goal of a ‘Holy War’ against the Muslim community in the UK. The UK government must proscribe this party before they achieve their aims.”
“We are a registered political party who campaign for British people to be put first in their own country. We are also a Christian movement who believe that Muslims are victims of a barbaric ideology; our Holy war is not ‘against the Muslim community in the UK’, it is against the extremes of Islam.”
She added that the 2014 comments cited in the petition – in which founding member Jim Dowson is quoted as saying the group was involved in a “crusade” – were outdated as Dowson had left the movement in 2014. Britain First leader Paul Golding revealed today (29 January) that Dowson would be speaking at an upcoming Britain First march in Dewsbury, however, describing him as an “outstanding orator”.
A response to the petition by the Home Office, published on 28 January, said while the government kept the list of proscribed organisations “under review” it would not confirm if it was considering banning Britain First.
But in what appears to be a swipe at the group, the Home Office added: “The government condemns those who seek to spread hate by demonising British Muslims. Those who seek to divide us damage our country by stoking anti-Muslim hatred and deliberately raise community fears and tensions by bringing disorder and violence to our towns and cities.”