The founder of far-right group Britain First has stood down, saying the group's provocative mosque invasions are "a bit rude" and attracting "racists and extremists" to the party.
Jim Dowson founded the Christian pseudo-militia after leaving the BNP, but has distanced himself from their habit of storming into mosques to provoke and goad imams, saying these were "counter-productive".
Dowson is stepping down from the party and politics, saying he could not convince Britain First leader Paul Golding to stop the invasions.
“Most of the Muslims in this country are fine," Dowson told The Daily Mirror.
"They are worried about extremists the same as us. So going into their mosques and stirring them up and provoking them is political madness and a bit rude.”
Dowson said: “No matter how many times I told (Golding) I did not want decent Muslims intimidated, he just continued doing it.
"I have come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I tried, you cannot escape from the fact that the group is being overrun with racists and extremists.
"I think he is fooling himself and lots of people that Britain First is a Christian group. Sadly, it has just become a violent front for people abusing the Bible."
In a long statement published on the group's Facebook page, the group said: "The media have put (Dowson) under enormous pressure recently regarding our invasions of mosques across Britain and understandably this has forced Jim to distance himself from these activities, notwithstanding the fact that these mosque invasions have cause considerable exposure of issues such as Muslim female genital mutilation, second class treatment of women, extremism and grooming gangs."
The post also said Dowson suffered "almost constant front-page demonisation in the media" and "constant arrests, police persecution and ridiculous legal harassment" for his role in the Belfast protests against the council's decision to stop flying the Union Jack every day.
This "legal harassment" should make him the envy of Golding, who recently tried and failed to get arrested, after staging a protest at a London police station.
Golding denied the mosque invasions were racist, telling The Mirror: “Some people who invade these mosques with us are mixed race themselves. Britain First is, as far as right-wing organisations go, relatively scandal-free.”
The group's Facebook post said Dowson's resignation was due to "family health reasons" and "enormous and unremitting pressure" from groups such as anti-fascist campaigners Hope Not Hate, who identified him as "the most powerful identity on the far right in this country".
The post continued: "We will miss him enormously and we as a movement are much the poorer without him."Suggest a correction