Far-right activists have targeted mosques across Scotland and northern England, attempting to hand out Bibles and distribute leaflets accusing community elders of failing to stop grooming gangs.
It is believed members of Britain First, some wearing uniforms, staged protests at 10 places of worship in Bradford city centre over the weekend. The group posted images of themselves on Facebook confronting members of the Asian community.
They also visited the office of Labour councillor Nazam Azam. Mr Azam said: “They have come to Bradford to cause residents to fear for their safety. As far as I understand they have tried to access mosques. They tried to hand out leaflets but I don’t know anyone who took anything.”
He added: “It is concerning and disturbing. We have a lot of good work going on in Bradford in terms of community cohesion and for people trying to disturb that the people of Bradford won’t fall for it.”
Mr Azam said the police had been called although West Yorkshire Police could not confirm the incidents on Sunday. It is believed around 10 people took part in the action.
Bradford West MP George Galloway said on Twitter: “If British Muslims – God forbid – invaded ten British churches and abused those inside, posted the videos – think it would be on the news?
“Abusing those worshipping there? This is a grave and national issue. We demand full police action and protection of mosques and worshippers.”
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Galloway later said he would be touring Bradford mosques on Monday and his aides would meet the local police commander for a report on the incursions and to talk about plans to combat them in the future.
“This was a calculated act of desecration by knuckle-dragging thugs who claim to be Christians, but who defile the very nature of Christianity,” the MP said. “If the same thing had happened in reverse, if Muslims had crashed into churches, terrifying those that were there and forcing them to take copies of the Quran and accusing them of being paedophiles there would be international outrage – led, not doubt, by the Daily Mail.
“This is an outrageous and racist desecration of holy places. And it is an action which can only exacerbate racial tensions, which is no doubt the intention. I am urging the Muslim community, in Bradford and elsewhere, not to react to this provocation. But if this is not a race hate crime then the law is, indubitably, an ass.”
Meanwhile, a statement on a Britain First Facebook site recording the action said: “This is the first of many such operations that are due to be launched across Yorkshire against Islam. The Yorkshire brigade is finally here and has ‘blooded’ itself in the most heavily Muslim town in Yorkshire.”
Britain First describes itself as a patriotic political party and street defence organisation that opposes and fights the many injustices that are routinely inflicted on the British people.
On its website it says: “Our policies are pro-British, our approach is no-nonsense and our principles are not open to compromise. We love our people, our nation, our heritage and culture and will defend them at all times and no matter what odds we face…
“We want a Britain that is strong, proud, free, sovereign and independent, in which our people live in a healthy, moral and ethical society. We want our people to come first, before foreigners, asylum seekers or migrants and we are overtly proud of this stance.
“Christianity in Britain is under ferocious assault: many Christians now face discrimination and persecution because of their beliefs in many areas such as employment, business, and adoption. We will restore Christianity as the bedrock and foundation of our national life as it has been for the last one thousand years…
“Immigration is spiralling out of control placing unsustainable demands upon this country’s resources, with health care, housing and the environment are all being seriously damaged by these unbearable and unfair burdens. Britain is a small, overcrowded, densely population island with barely enough space and resources for our own people…
“The rapid growth of militant Islam is leading to the suppression of women, freedom of speech and racist attacks. Britain First has a proven track record of opposing Islamic militants and hate preachers and this fightback will continue… We understand that due to low birth rates among our people, massive uncontrolled immigration, and high immigrant community birth rates, we will become a minority within 25 years from now.”