UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Paul Nuttall has distanced himself from one of the party’s MEPs, who described Islam as a “death cult”, insisting he had “got his terminology wrong”.
UKIP Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Gerard Batten (pictured left) had written a blog post after the Islamist Westminster terror attack, in which he said Islam “is a death cult, born and steeped in fourteen hundred years of violence and bloodshed, that propagates itself by intimidation, violence and conquest”.
The statement was immediately slammed by the Liberal Democrats and Green Party, who described the comments as “hateful” and “the gutter of British politics”.
Mr. Nuttall was asked about the row during an interview on ITV’s Tonight programme. “I would never personally describe Islam in that way”, he responded, adding:
“I think [Mr. Batten] got his terminology wrong, okay. I think Islamic fundamentalism is a cancer within our society… [but] I don’t think Islam itself is a death cult [in] any way, shape, or form.”
ITN calls for me to be sacked! Would they also have called for the sacking of Winston Churchill? https://t.co/NQ8lr24WZs
— Gerard Batten MEP (@GerardBattenMEP) May 9, 2017
Mr. Batten preemptively responded to ITV’s questioning in another blog post, published Tuesday, arguing his views are no different from those of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
“I am told that in an interview with Paul Nuttall, to be broadcast this Thursday evening on the Tonight program on ITV, they called on him to sack me because of my comments on Islam,” he wrote.
“I won’t say anything further on this subject here, but it would be interesting to know how our greatest Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill would have fared in the modern world given his views on the same subject,” he added, before quoting Sir Winston’s views.
The episode comes just days after Mr. Nuttall was accused of not being “prepared to answer difficult questions on Islam” by anti-Sharia law activist Anne Marie Waters, who was not allowed to stand for the party in the general election because of her statements on Islam.