A far-right group led by a notorious Scots rabble-rouser are promoting sinister “fight clubs” for their followers. And anti-racism activists claim Jim Dowson’s Britain First organisation are training boot boys to fight Muslims on the streets.
Mathew Collins of Hope Not Hate said: “They have been booking mixed martial arts gyms so they can fight among themselves, training for confrontations with Muslims.” Vicky Burns of Show Racism the Red Card Scotland added: “Britain First’s brand of racism and prejudice simply is not welcome here.”
Britain First have used a series of Facebook posts to attract recruits for fight training. One ad says: “Things are bad and will only get worse. Don’t you think it’s time to learn how to protect the ones you love – and yourself?” It adds that the fight clubs – apparently named after Brad Pitt’s 1999 film – will be rolled out UK-wide and free of charge.
Another ad says of the plan: “We feel this is a vital part of building a real movement for the future struggle to take back our country.”
Dowson’s rag-tag mob of former BNP members have already targeted Muslims in Scotland and beyond. They swaggered into mosques in Glasgow, Cumbernauld and several English cities, handing out Army Bibles to worshippers and telling them to stop Muslim men grooming young girls for sex. The invaders claimed to be carrying out a “Christian crusade”.
Britain First have also staged “Christian Patrols” in London, with supporters in military style fatigues marching through Asian areas waving Union flags.
Collins called Britain First “the most dangerous group to emerge on the far right for years”, and urged the authorities to take proper action against them. He warned that Dowson’s men were “generating a climate of fear” and said their actions “could lead to a violent backlash”.
Former Orangeman Dowson is from Airdrie but lives in Belfast. The self-styled born again Christian has links to anti-abortion extremists. A group he founded, Precious Life, have been accused of intimidating pro-choice supporters.
Dowson was one of the leaders of Loyalist protests in Belfast over city council plans to limit the amount of time when the Union flag was flown over their HQ. He wore a veil over his face on his way to appear in court after the disorder.
Dowson was a close associate of BNP leader Nick Griffin and a major fund-raiser for the far-right party, but he quit over claims that he groped a female party activist. He then founded Britain First with Paul Golding, an old ally and former BNP councillor.
The group have raised their profile by urging Facebook users to “like” posts backing British troops, paying tribute to Princess Diana and opposing animal cruelty. The strategy has helped Britain First get more than 480,000 Facebook “likes”. Many users don’t know they are interacting with the extreme right.