Disgust in Westminster as Ukip MEP stands by Muslim charter
Nigel Farage faces yet more headlines about embarrassing Ukip members, after one stood by his belief that Muslims should sign a charter renouncing parts of the Koran.
The party leader has vowed to remove 'Walter Mitty' characters from Ukip ahead of this year's European elections – but the candidate topping its London list, MEP Gerard Batten, has stood by a 2006 charter encouraging Muslims to renounce violence.
The document demands that Muslims should sign it "as peace-loving and peace-promoting people domiciled in Europe" by rejecting jihad and viewing verses talking about it as "inapplicable, invalid and non-Islamic".
It demands the replacement of sharia law with "a clear educational programme through all Islamic institutions and outlets" and asks signatories to issue a fatwa "prohibiting the use of force and violence of any kind against the followers of any or all non-Muslim religions".
Batten also said he stood by previous comments regretting the construction of mosques across Europe as a move which "appeased" Muslims.
Speaking of the charter, he told the Guardian newspaper: "I don't suppose the pope would disagree with it or the archbishop of Canterbury or anybody else. So why should they feel aggrieved that they might be asked to sign.
"They don't have to. If they don't believe in those five points, they don't have to sign it."
His views have prompted condemnation from across the political spectrum.
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said: "I am appalled at the ignorance Gerard Batten appears to have shown when speaking about the faith that I and hundreds of thousands of British Muslims practice."
Liberal Democrat London MEP Sarah Ludford said Batten's comments "rip apart Ukip's pretence to be eurosceptic but not racist".
She added: "His offensive blanket stereotyping of Muslims as jihadists speaks volumes about Ukip's extremism and should warn voters that voting Ukip means associating with hatred and Islamophobia."
Conservative backbencher Rehman Chishti called on Farage to ban Batten from being allowed to stand for re-election under the Ukip banner.