As the BNP struggles for right-wing support in the European Parliament, leader Nick Griffin tells Cathy Newman he believes there is "no place in Europe for Islam"
The BNP leader Nick Griffin has described Islam as a “cancer” that should be removed from Europe by "chemotherapy".
In an interview with Channel 4 News, Mr Griffin, who has just been elected to the European Parliament, said there was "no place in Europe for Islam". He added: "Western values, freedom of speech, democracy and rights for women are incompatible with Islam, which is a cancer eating away at our freedoms and our democracy and rights for our women and something needs to be done about it".
The BNP leader said he agreed with a candidate for the Flemish far right party, Vlaams Belang, who had declared: "We urgently need global chemotherapy against Islam to save civilisation."
The remarks will fuel controversy over the BNP’s success at the European elections last month. The party’s two winning candidates - Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons - take up their seats in the European Parliament next week.
Mr Griffin has been holding talks with other far right parties in Europe such as Vlaams Belang and Jobbik, from Hungary. The BNP had hoped to team up formally with a range of European rightwingers, giving them access to up to €1m of public money to spend on staff and offices. However, those talks have ended in failure.
The BNP will still work together informally with Jobbik, with both parties saying they share common ground on issues such as law and order. Jobbik has formed its own militia, the Hungarian Guard, which wears Nazi-style uniform and marches across the country to tackle what it calls “gypsy crime” by Roma travellers.
Mr Griffin told Channel 4 News that he believed Britain had “got a problem with Romanian gypsy crime”. Jobbik’s use of the term has led to accusations that it is seeking to criminalise an entire ethnic group. The BNP leader said: “There are two sorts of gypsies in Britain. There are the old fully-established anglicised Romanies who have been here for generations and who when they go to an area, when they leave it, it is spotlessly clean and you can not see they have been there. We have got no issue with that.
"And on the other hand there are the travellers - mainly from Ireland - and the Roma gypsy beggars and pickpockets in London. And while the liberal elite may say it is politically incorrect to say so, I would say that they have a very high level of criminality."
One of Jobbik’s MEPs, Krisztina Morvai, has been accused of anti-Semitism after text she wrote on an online forum. Questioned by Channel 4 News about the remarks, she did not deny writing them, but said she did not want to make any comment. She then terminated the interview.
Although Jobbik still sees the BNP as an ally, Vlaams Belang distanced itself both from Mr Griffin and the call by one of its candidates for "global chemotherapy" against Islam. One of its MEPs said he did not agree with comparing "people to diseases".