A Hartlepool UKIP councillor says he will not stand down over comments he made about Islam.
Councillor Tom Hind, who represents Seaton on Hartlepool Borough Council, said on Facebook that Islam was not a religion but a political ideology and he would like to ban Muslims from joining UKIP.
In the Facebook post in the wake of the Manchester terrorist attack Coun Hind said: “I would like to ban any Muslim from joining UKIP.
“Islam is not a religion it is a political ideology based on conquest, how many more assaults on the British people need we endure before we understand Islam.”
There have been calls for Councillor Hind to apologise and resign.
But speaking to the Mail today, Coun Hind stood by the comments and said he will not be standing down.
He said his views were based on reading three books to learn more about Islam including the Qur’an.
Coun Hind said: “In those books it’s about 2% religion and 98% political ideology.
“I found it was incompatible with UKIP and its ethics. They are my own personal views and it is not UKIP policy to stop any Muslim joining UKIP.
“If I can’t have my own personal views then it’s a lack of freedom of speech.
“I am certainly not standing down from my position as a councillor.”
Coun Hind denied accusations of racism saying: “Someone has branded me a racist and that’s an opinion they have, it’s not fact.”
He added he is a member of the Theosophical Society which promotes the study of religions and is made up of people from all faiths.
But his fellow Seaton councillors Paul Thompson and James Black said in an open letter to him: “Jointly, we are disgusted by your narrow minded, ignorant, ill formed, nasty and racist views.
“Your comments, particularly in light of the recent Manchester atrocities, only inflame racial hatred and are a despicable attempt to seek political gain from the sad deaths of 22 innocent victims.”
They added: “We therefore call on you to immediately resign your position as a Councillor on Hartlepool Borough Council and crawl back into the ignorant vacuum where these types of opinions belong.”
Hartlepool UKIP chairman and group leader on the council Coun John Tennant distanced UKIP from Coun Hind’s comments.
He said: “It’s not party policy to reject members based on their religious beliefs, sexuality, colour or their nationality.
“This is obviously a personal viewpoint of Councillor Hind. We have had Muslim candidates in the past and in this election just as much as we have had Jewish candidates before. It’s not party policy.”
Regarding any action the local party may take against Coun Hind, Coun Tennant said: “I need to speak to Councillor Hind and find out exactly where these comments come from in due course.”