A group of uniformed far-right activists who visited ten mosques across Bradford, carrying out a ‘Christian Crusade’ and handing out Army Bibles to Imams, have said that they are not against Muslims.
The representatives of Britain First who were dressed in matching flatcaps and green jackets embossed with the party logo stating "Taking our country back" had filmed themselves randomly talking about ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ and had even told one Muslim man to ‘reject the false prophet Mohammed and read the Bible’.
Led by Paul Golding, a former BNP councilor, during their unprovoked visit to Bradford, they turned up at the doorstep of Bradford Lord Mayor Khadim Hussain’s house demanding to see him on what he was doing to combat child sexual exploitation in the Muslim community. They then accused his daughters of lying when they told the group that he was not home.
Zulfi Karim, secretary of the Bradford Council of Mosques, said the action marked a new wave of right-wing action and was co-ordinated with almost military precision.
Now this week, the actions of the Britain First members have been slammed by Secretary of State for Communities Rt Hon. Eric Pickles MP and MP Stephen Williams - the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, who has responsibility for Community Cohesion.
Though Britain First, an off-shoot of BNP, haven’t broken any laws per se, the unprovoked invasion of several mosques by the group has raised questions as to where the law stands on intimidation.
MP David Ward and Zulfi Karim from the Bradford Council for Mosques led on the talks concerning what immediate actions could be put in place to help alleviate any community concerns and what steps could be implemented to ensure that all local religious institutions can deal with any future attacks.
The Communities Secretary confirmed that he will be speaking to the Home Secretary to try to ascertain what measures needed to be put in place to ensure that the Police can take effective action in the future to prevent such incidences occurring.
Britain First, speaking to the Asian Express, said that they are fuelled by the breakdown of society and failure of politics in Britain.
“We’re a group of people who abhor the effects of binge drinking, mindless racist actions as well as grooming and FGM,” say Britain First spokesperson James Dowson, also considered the founder of the group.
He added: “We believe that even if every single immigrant left this country, this country would still be on it’s knees because of the politicians that have failed us.
“We don’t have anything against the vast majority of law-abiding Muslims but we feel that they are not addressing issues such as grooming which is led by Asian gangs.
“Let me put it this way, I’d prefer a devout Muslim attending his mosque rather than hanging around drinking cans of larger like an EDL member.”
Asked on any further plans to target mosques in other cities, he said: “No but
in hindsight, perhaps we should not have tried to get our message across in this manner, but we are working on opening up an educated dialogue with people.”
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “The reaction of Bradford’s Muslim citizens was a commendable example of British reasonableness. In our country everyone should feel free to worship without fear of harassment or interruption. Freedom of worship is a fundamental and hard-fought British liberty that we should defend.”
Communities Minister Stephen Williams MP said: “These were the deliberate and provocative actions of thugs and we utterly condemn the invasion of any Mosque as disrespectful and hateful. We will support faith organisations and Council of Mosques to take the right security precautions and ensure people in Bradford feel safe.”
Superintendent Vince Firth
“I fully appreciate the level of concern that exists following the reports relating to the group Britain First and I first want to reassure people that we view this matter very seriously.
"We have a dedicated team of detectives, led by a senior investigating officer, who are making enquiries. They are in close liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service and if any offences have been committed, appropriate action will be taken.
“We are also aware of incorrect social media posts in relation to these allegations in Bradford which suggest that an arrest has taken place, however, at this stage I can confirm our investigations remain ongoing.
“We do not underestimate the impact that such incidents can have on our community and we are fully committed to supporting local people in their places of worship.
“Bradfordians have shown on many occasions how they can come together, rejecting potential threats in a dignified manner. Local people continue to have a big role to play and we ask that whatever is happening, they allow the police and our partners to manage it with the resources at our disposal.
“Following this incident, work was immediately undertaken by local Neighbourhood Policing Teams and statements were offered to the media on Sunday evening.
“We continue to update the public, community leaders, the local Authority and the Council for Mosques as to the current position.
“If you have any concerns, or have witnessed any of these events, please approach your local Neighbourhood Policing Team via the non emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111.”