A controversial pro-Brexit organisation provoked widespread anger for a “perverse” and “bigoted” anti-Muslim tweet on so-called “Punish A Muslim Day”.
Leave.EU chose Tuesday, April 3, to tweet a picture of Sadiq Khan next to the words “Londonistan” and “British multiculturalists feed Islamic fundamentalism”.
The organisation, founded by millionaire Arron Banks, also trumpeted three discredited claims in the post.
It said 423 mosques had opened while 500 churches closed - claims sourced by the Gatestone Institute from the conspiracy blog YourNewsWire, and later rubbished by the fact check website Snopes as “based on misleading and cherry-picked data”.
The post also alleged there were 100 Sharia Courts in London, which is untrue because Sharia Courts don’t exist in the UK.
When the Home Office investigated Sharia councils - which arbitrate on religious matters including divorce, but which have no power to overrule British courts or laws - it estimated there were between 30 and 85 in the UK.
The A4 posters said a point-based system would be in place for those who launch on attack on ‘Punish A Muslim Day’. Their source is not yet known.
Shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler called the tweet “hate speech”.
Labour MP for Ilford North Wes Streeting, meanwhile, said: “It’s time to see Leave.EU for what it is: an alt-right front for nasty, racist politics designed to whip up division and prejudice, particularly towards Britain’s Muslims.”
Anti-racism charity Tell MAMA called the post “dog-whistle politics” and urged Twitter to suspend Leave.EU’s account for targeting a specific group.
A spokesman for Tell MAMA said: “The Leave .EU tweet is not only bigoted, it is perverse and suggests that Muslims are secretly trying to Islamicise and turn London into a Muslim domain. It is bigoted, since it takes the London Mayor, who happens to be Muslim, and places himself into the context, as though a progressive Mayor of London is regressive, because he is Muslim.
“It is more than ‘dog-whistle’ politics. It is bigoted and perverse and goes to explain the pits that this account has now become.
“The Leave.EU account is breaching the terms and conditions of Twitter. It is clear that the platform should not be used to ‘target a group’ and the tweet makes that explicitly the case – that Muslims are the brunt of that tweet.
“If Twitter want to have any credibility and to overcome the slap-dash and shoddy way that they have implemented their policies, then they need to stand firm now and show the public that their policies mean something. Closing that account is now a must.”
People replying to the post said they had reported the account to Twitter.
Arron Banks, founder of Leave.EU, denied the post is racist, however, and said the organisation was quoting research.
“We are quoting research,” he said. “Why is discussing Muslims and the real issues racist?”
It is the second time in the space of the week that Leave.EU’s tweets have provoked outrage. On Thursday, the group suggested anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is a result of “Britain’s exploding Muslim population”.
The controversial tweet said: “Is it any wonder that Labour can’t be bothered to deal with the disgusting anti-Semitism in their party when they are so reliant on the votes of Britain’s exploding Muslim population? It’s a question of maths for these people, not justice!”
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for British Muslims later asked the organisation to withdraw the tweet, to no avail.
HuffPost UK has contacted Twitter for comment.