The threat from far-right extremism is growing in the UK, a senior Home Office adviser warned today, with Islamophobia escalating in the wake of Islamic State terrorism and crimes involving Muslims in Britain.
The recent findings of an inquiry into child sex abuse in Rotherham and the crisis in Iraq and Syria are fuelling increased hate crime towards Muslims, the government adviser on right-wing extremism said.
"This is one of the most worrying periods in right-wing extremism, given the growth in right-wing groups and the recent news events which are making them more angry," the anonymous expert claimed.
The adviser, who works with the the Home Office's Prevent strategy, warned that the government is wrongly putting an emphasis on the "global jihadist agenda," while possibly ignoring the growth of the far-right at home.
Following the release of the damning Rotherham report, which revealed more than 1,400 children in Rotherham were abused over a period of 16 years by "mainly Asian men," branches of the EDL and the far-right, pseudo-militia group Britain First staged a protest last weekend, during which four men were arrested.
Britain First, known for its mosque invasions and money-making merchandise, is the most active far-right group to emerge from the collapse of the BNP and EDL over the past year.
The founder of the group stood down last month, saying the group's provocative mosque invasions are "a bit rude" and attracting "racists and extremists" to the party.
Jim Dowson formed 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".
Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson told The Huffington Post UK he "wasn't surprised at all" by the details of the child abuse report - or the far-right reaction to it - saying "we were trying to tell you all along."
He sensationally quit the EDL last year saying he could no longer control the extremist elements within the organisation. The 31-year-old said the Rotherham scandal was not just corporate dysfunction at a wider level but "political correctness gone mad".
Robinson, who was recently released from prison for mortgage fraud, said that "when I was sat in jail, everything we were ridiculed over, everything we were told was promoting hate and creating division, all of it is now public knowledge."
During the various demonstrations at Rotherham, spats reportedly broke out between the EDL, National Front and Britain First, with insults of "Nazis" being hurled around by the various groups.
Rotherham high street is closed due to EDL protests. Metal barriers everywhere. pic.twitter.com/EYSW1GjFsY— Alex Charles Evans (@Alex_C_Evans) September 13, 2014
Scenes from EDL rally in Rotherham pic.twitter.com/Tn11GAEMt0— Claire Lewis (@newsgirl25) September 13, 2014
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, said the report should start a "political earthquake" in the UK, and - referring to the recent actions of Boko Haram and Islamic State - said a public enquiry should be carried out to examine links between Islamic ideology and sexual abuse.
But speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the government adviser warned about the prospect of a violent attack being carried out by the far-right in Britain after talking to extremists.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I have been working with people from the far-right for about 27 years now, I can see increases in some of these groups and membership in some of these groups based on things that are happening nationally here and internationally.
"A lot of the emphasis is put on the global jihadist agenda, which is fine, and it needs to be, but I really feel that this agenda, the repercussions of some of that in terms of the far-right can't be ignored.
"I wouldn't want to get to the point where something happens and we look back and think actually we should have addressed that as well."
EDL Supporters in Rotherham demanding the Burka is banned pic.twitter.com/7dzhmSh013— Lord Skip VC (@LordSkipVC) September 13, 2014
The expert said he had met someone who wanted to put everyone who was not white British into Nazi-style death camps.
He told the programme: "I had one person who said he would like to implement death camps here in the UK and when I asked who he would like to put in the death camps, he just listed everyone that he didn't see as white British.
"So that was every Asian person, every black person."
Labour former communities secretary Hazel Blears said the Government needs to better support the Muslim majority who condemn Islamist extremism.
She called on ministers to beef up the anti-extremism Prevent programme and bring different communities together.
Efforts should be made to work with more young Muslims and encourage people from the community to become school governors and magistrates, she added.
Ms Blears said: "I honestly do not think that the Government is doing enough in the whole Prevent programme to bring people together and to support the Muslim majority who are absolutely horrified at what's been happening."