Ukip leader endorses 'factually incorrect' book on Islam

Josh Halliday

The Ukip leader, Gerard Batten, has endorsed a “factually incorrect and fundamentally offensive” book that claims Islam is fighting for “the destruction of western civilisation”.

The book, Understand Islam in Under an Hour, is being sold by a close ally of the anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson and was distributed at Ukip’s party conference in September.

It describes Islam as an “expansionist, intolerant and totalitarian ideology” that “cannot co-exist peacefully in a multicultural, western, free or liberal society”.

Two Muslim scholars said the 99-page book was littered with factual inaccuracies, “blatant lies” and multiple Qur’anic verses taken out of context.

Batten is quoted on its cover: “Western societies cannot afford to ignore Islam, and if their non-Islam citizens, the ‘Infidels’, want to know what the future could hold for them then they need to read this book.”

The endorsement is further evidence of the Ukip leader’s hardline stance on Islam, which he has called a “death cult”. His views on Islam have prompted the resignation of many senior party figures including the former leader Nigel Farage, while at the same time drawing support from fans of Robinson, whom Batten appointed as an adviser last year.

David Lawrence, a researcher at the anti-fascism charity Hope not Hate, said: “Whilst the idea that anyone can understand any one of the world’s largest religions ‘in under an hour’ may seem laughable, the reality is these people don’t want understanding, they want hate.

“Sadly, it is unsurprising that Batten has endorsed this dubious book. He has long had an obsession with Islam and has had multiple links to the anti-Muslim so-called counter-jihad scene. Ukip used to be obsessed with Europe but under Batten they are increasingly a bigoted and far-right party totally obsessed with Muslims.”

In an interview on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Batten said he disliked “the literalist interpretation of Islam” by “lots of people in this country”.

He added: “The people who are nominally Muslims, and I know plenty of them … they are not a problem because they do not propose the literalist, fundamentalist interpretation of the religion.”

The book is being sold by Richard Inman, a close ally of Robinson and Batten who has said “the entire Muslim religion is antichrist” and criticised what he described as “the Islamisation of the UK”.

The identity of the book’s true author is unclear. Its original cover named “Kalab bin Farash” as the author but later copies were changed to “Farooq bin al-Ashraf”. Both appear to be pseudonyms.

Inman said the book was a “superb summary of the major threat to western civilisation in the 21st century”. He said it was written by two eformer Muslim “apostates” but refused to identify them because “their lives are in real danger”.

Adding to the puzzle, the publication carries a cover quote from the office of the far-right Hungarian prime minister, Victor Orbán. A spokesman for Orbán told the Guardian he did not endorse the book.

Qari Asim, one of the UK’s most prominent imams, said the book contained claims that were “factually incorrect and fundamentally offensive to over 1.6 billion [people] in the world”.

Asim said its selective reading of the Qur’an was a tactic similarly employed by Islamist extremists to radicalise others.

Another Muslim scholar, Abdul Ahad, said the book presented 24 “out-of-context, misunderstood verses for superficial analysis from a total of around 6,236 verses”.

Ahad, an imam and an intervention provider for the UK government’s deradicalisation scheme Prevent, said the author “hides behind the illusion of Islamic scholarship using an unheard-of Muslim name” but that their knowledge of Arabic and the foundations of Islam was “non-existent”.

“The book is nothing more than hate-filled bile with only one agenda – to vilify Islam and Muslims and to ridicule the teachings of a great Abrahamic faith,” Ahad said.

Inman, who addressed a Tommy Robinson rally in Salford in February, said his belief that Islam is “antichrist” is based on a passage in the Bible that says: “This is the antichrist, he who denies the father and the son.”

He added: “At the heart of Islamic theology is a denial of the Sonship and deity of Jesus Christ and the Fatherhood of God. Islam is therefore antichrist.”