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BNP leader Griffin defends his views on Islam

BNP leader Nick Griffin today told a jury that the idea that Islam has a strong, tolerant and moderate strand is ``a politically correct nonsense''.

Griffin, 47, was giving evidence at Leeds Crown Court in the fourth day of his re-trial on race hate charges alongside the BNP's head of publicity Mark Collett, 26.

Both men are charged with offences relating to speeches made in Keighley, West Yorkshire, in 2004, which were secretly filmed by a BBC reporter.

Griffin has told the court that he was not intending to stir up racial hatred, but had a religious and cultural problem with Islam.

Rodney Jameson QC, prosecuting, today questioned Griffin repeatedly about his view of the religion.

He asked: ``Do you accept that there is a moderate majority within the Muslim community in Britain?''

Griffin replied that Sufis, ``a tiny proportion'' of Muslims, had ``a very moderate view''.

He continued: ``The second group are those who call themselves Muslims. They are not particularly Muslim at all. In fact it is a heritage thing.''

He identified a third group, such as the Muslim Council of Britain, as ``the ones who are quiet now''.

He said: ``You conceal how you really feel but when you get to 10% (of the population) you must fight the unbelievers, you must beat them.''

He added: ``This faith is biding its time before it does in this country wha it has done everywhere else.''

He said the answer to the original question ``most definitely is no''.

He was then asked if racial or religious hatred only existed within a minority of Muslims.

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.''

Griffin admitted that his audience at the Reservoir Tavern, Keighley, West Yorkshire, on January 19, 2004, was ``emotionally charged'', but he said that it was not his duty to pretend that there wasn't a problem.

He said: ``It's the duty of someone who sees a fire in a crowded theatre to shout `fire' and not so sit there analysing the properties of fire.''

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

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