In addition to lesser-known figures, Saturday’s march for Tommy Robinson (AKA Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) in Whitehall will see key anti-Muslim activists address the crowd
Those billed to speak include social media “comedian” Liam Tuffs, former UKIP MEP Janice Atkinson (currently vice-president of the Europe of Nations and Freedom coalition of far-right parties in the European Parliament), writer Shazia Hobbs and a member of the Mothers for Justice group. Below we’ve detailed some of the extreme positions of the key speakers.
Geert Wilders is founder and leader of the People’s Party for Freedom (PVV), one of the largest parties in the Netherlands, and is one of the most prominent anti-Muslim activists in the world.
Wilders’ views are extreme: he has called Islam the “ideology of a retarded culture” and compared the Quran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, labelling it the “fascist Quran”. Despite claiming to be a champion of free speech he has called for the Quran to be banned.
In addition, he has called for the rewriting of the Dutch constitution to halt all immigration from Muslim countries; to push paid repatriation of Muslim immigrants; for the grandchildren of immigrants to be classed as ‘non-natives’; and Muslim ‘criminals’ to be stripped of Dutch citizenship and deported “back where they came from”.
In 2010 Wilders was charged and prosecuted for criminally insulting religious and ethnic groups and inciting hatred and discrimination. Despite the violent language and hyperbolic tone used by Wilders, he was acquitted in June 2011.
In On 18 March 2016, a second trial against Wilders began, this time accusing him of inciting ‘discrimination and hatred’ against Moroccans living in the Netherlands. Wilders had asked a crowd of supporters in The Hague in March 2014, “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands?” After the crowd replied “fewer”, he told them “We’ll take care of that”.
He was convicted for hate speech in December 2016, but no penalty was imposed although the Dutch Public Prosecution Service had demanded a fine of €5,000.
Wilders often mixes his anti-migrant and anti-Muslim messages together. On a June 2017 post to his personal blog, he wrote that if “we” do not want to be “wiped away” and our “population replaced”, we must start acting “forcefully” against “Mass immigration and the surge of Islam”, before pondering “How many terrorists, rapists, ISIS sympathisers and welfare abusers” there will be among incoming African migrants.
In an interview in September 2017 he said that Islam is a “totalitarian, dangerous and violent ideology, dressed up as a religion” and wanted to ban Islam in the Netherlands.
Anne Marie Waters
Anne Marie Waters is one of Britain’s leading anti-Muslim activists and is leader of the For Britain Movement party, which stands on an explicitly anti-Muslim platform.
A former Labour party member, in 2013 Waters shifted dramatically to the right, and has since made a career from associating Islam with violence and social degradation. She has described the religion as “evil” and “a killing machine”.
Waters was central to plans to host a Muhammad cartoons competition in London in September 2015, which was later cancelled. When Lennon became leader of the UK branch of the European anti-Muslim street movement, Pegida, Waters was a central figure alongside him, though the project soon failed.
In 2015 Waters was also filmed declaring that:
“For a start the immigration will have to stop, the immigration from Islamic countries has to stop entirely, that is just the way it is. A lot of people need to be deported. Many mosques need to be closed down. It really has to get tough.”
In 2017 she ran to become leader of UKIP but lost out to Henry Bolton, coming second with 2,755 votes and 21.3% share of the vote. When launching her bid for leadership, Waters stated:
“The rape, abuse, and humiliation of women at the hands of Muslim immigrants to Europe is too widespread to accurately record. Women of Britain did not spend the last century fighting for their rights, only to see them crushed now by immigrant communities.”
In October 2017 she launched For Britain and has campaigned since with the party. Islam is a “key issue” for Waters’ party as is immigration, which its manifesto claims the party would ensure came only from “culturally appropriate” countries.
An ITV documentary that aired in November 2017 and which featured input from HOPE not hate showed footage of Waters’ conspiratorial mind-set, declaring that “Islam is an evil religion”, a “fascist death cult” and that the “EU agreed to turn Europe into an Arabian Islamic continent”. To stop this she argued we need to “reduce their birthrates now” and “stop all Muslim immigration now”.
In April 2018 HOPE not hate revealed the extremism of some For Britain candidates representing the party in the local elections (since denounced by the party). These included Orpington-based Mandy Baldwin, who had shared homophobic content from a Nazi account on the social network Gab.ai stating and had stated she wanted “every Muzzrat out of [the] country” and that voting for Labour was now “a vote for your children to be gang-raped by inbred savages”.
Another candidate likewise denounced was Leeds-based Stuart Nicholson whose now-suspended Twitter account was inundated with antisemitism. For example, he retweeted a post that read “National Socialism is the alternative to degeneracy we currently face. It is a pathway to freedom and prosperity. It is an escape from Jewish Tyranny. It is the Future of our people.”
HOPE not hate recently exposed Sam Melia, who stood for the party in May in Leeds, as a former member of nazi group National Action, now banned as a terrorist organisation (he has now been expelled from For Britain). For Britian has also increasingly attracted former prominent members of the British National Party (BNP).
Former advisor to Nigel Farage and editor of the London branch of far-right “news” site Breitbart News (the network co-founded by former Chief Strategist to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon) until May 2018, Raheem Kassam is a long-time anti-Muslim activist and a supporter of far-right political agendas more widely.
Kassam became Director of the Henry Jackson Society-linked group, Student Rights, in 2009. An anti-extremism “campus monitoring group” which, the Huffington Post reported appeared to have no student members or links to student unions, the group was condemned by multiple London student unions in 2013 for “disproportionately and unfairly targeting Muslim students, contributing to their marginalisation and ostracisation, damaging campus cohesion and feeding into a growing trend of Islamophobic discourse in wider society”. The Institute of Race Relations noted that Student Rights’ work has “been used by far right groups to target a Muslim-student event”.
From January 2011 Kassam also worked as Executive Editor of neoconservative news website The Commentator, attracting controversy for writing an article in support of racial profiling. He was slammed by his future colleagues on the neoconservative right, such as Aymenn J Al-Tamimi of the Middle East Forum, for the extremity of The Commentator’s anti-Islam output. Kassam eventually made an acrimonious exit in 2013 after an explosive falling out with founding editor Robin Sheppard, among accusations of theft, blackmail, extortion and multiple accounts of fraud.
He has described himself as “mates” with Lennon and has described Anne Marie Waters as “a good personal friend”. Kassam addressed a demonstration of the UK branch – of which Lennon and Waters played a key role – of the European anti-Muslim street movement, Pegida, in April 2016.
Whilst editor at Breitbart London, the output of the site was heavily skewed to extreme and vitriolic coverage of Muslims and migrants. HOPE not hate’s March 2017 report highlighted that during the previous year it had published over 303 stories on ‘Muslims or Islam’ and 592 on ‘immigrants or migrants’. Coverage of these topics was, moreover, frequently misleading, exaggerated or entirely false. Headlines included: “Feminists Need to Know – Islam Kills Women”, “Europe’s Rape Epidemic: Western Women Will be Sacrificed at the Alter of Mass Migration” and “Data: Young Muslims in the West are a Ticking Time Bomb, Increasingly Sympathising with Radicals, Terror”.
Elsewhere, Kassam has shown himself to hold a vile, juvenile attitude towards serious political discussion. For example, on June 9, 2016 he tweeted:
‘Can someone just like… tape Nicola Sturgeon’s mouth shut? And her legs, so she can’t reproduce. Thanks. #ITVEURef’
Kassam claims he sent the tweet before he knew Sturgeon had suffered a miscarriage.
Batten is a UKIP MEP, and a co-founding member of the party, of which he took the reigns in February 2018. Batten is a veteran anti-Muslim activist with links across the European anti-Muslim, “counter-jihad” network. He has frequently expressed extreme views about Islam and towards Muslims, for example, calling for British Muslims to sign a “charter of Muslim understanding” to reject violence in 2014.
In April 2017 he attracted widespread condemnation after labelling Islam – which he calls “Mohammedianism” – a “death cult, born and steeped in 14,000 years of violence and bloodshed.” With tensions high following the appalling terrorist attack in Manchester in May 2017, Batten reiterated his belief that “Mohammedanism is a barbaric, regressive ideology that was primitive and backward when it was first concocted in 6th century Arabia.”
Batten has even called for “an ideological crusade to convert European Muslims to Christianity” and has described Islam on multiple occasions as a “death cult”. He also addressed the 2011 dinner of the Traditional Britain Group (TBG), which holds annual far-right gatherings attended by both Tory fringe members and extreme-right elements.