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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 November 2006, 16:35 GMT
BNP leader defends views on Islam
Nick Griffin [left] and Mark Collett arrive at court in Leeds
Mr Griffin said he did not agree with everything in Mr Collett's speech
The leader of the British National Party has told a court the idea Islam has a tolerant and moderate strand is "a politically correct nonsense".

Nick Griffin, 47, denies two charges of stirring racial hatred.

The charges arose from speeches made in Keighley which were secretly filmed for a BBC documentary on the party in 2004.

Mr Griffin, of Powys, mid Wales, said he was not intending to stir up racial hatred but did have a religious and cultural problem with Islam.

The BNP's head of publicity, Mark Collett, 26, of Rothley, Leicestershire, also denies four similar race hate charges relating to two separate speeches.

Moderate majority

Prosecuting, Rodney Jameson QC, repeatedly questioned Mr Griffin about his view of Islam.

When asked if he accepted there was a moderate majority within the Muslim community in Britain, the party leader said his answer "most definitely is no".

Asked if racial or religious hatred only existed within a minority of Muslims, Mr Griffin replied: "It's expressed in terms of violence only by a minority, but for how they feel overall cast your mind back to Salman Rushdie.

"These people as individuals are not bad, it's just that they are culturally and religiously programmed and programmed as a community so that when the preachers and the Imams flick the switch they go into Muslim overdrive, flick the switch and there is trouble."

Mr Jameson asked: "Do you accept that Islam has a strong, tolerant and moderate strand?"

"No," Mr Griffin replied. "That's a politically correct nonsense."

'Pig ignorant man'

During his evidence, the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Norman Jones QC, interrupted proceedings to tell Griffin not to use the witness stand as a political soap box.

The jury heard Mr Griffin was the final speaker at the meeting at Keighley's Reservoir Tavern, on 19 January 2004.

He admitted that his audience was "emotionally charged", but said it was not his duty to pretend that there was not a problem.

He said he had listened to "some" of Mark Collett's speech, and did not agree with everything he said, but did not think it would be interpreted as an attack on Asians in general.

Jokingly he added: "I constantly have to lecture Mark Collett about all sorts of things. He is a pig ignorant man. Often it goes in one ear and straight out of the other."

The trial continues.


SEE ALSO
BNP and leader 'no longer racist'
07 Nov 06 |  Bradford
BNP speech intended to 'motivate'
06 Nov 06 |  Bradford
BNP leader 'said Islam is wicked'
03 Nov 06 |  Bradford
Rowdy scenes for race hate trial
01 Nov 06 |  Bradford

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