Turkey urges police action on BNP flyers

The Turkish government has demanded the withdrawal of election leaflets distributed in Scotland by the British National party, claiming they are intended to incite racial and religious hatred. Flyers promoting the BNP’s European election campaign suggest that millions of Turkish Muslims would flood into Britain if the country were to be granted full EU membership.

One BNP leaflet being handed out on the streets of Glasgow said taxpayers’ money “shouldn’t be wasted on expanding Europe so that millions of Muslims in Turkey can join the invasion of foreign job snatchers”. Another urges voters to “oppose the dangerous drive backed by the other main parties to give 80m low-wage Muslim Turks the right to swamp Britain”.

Officials at the Turkish embassy in London have complained to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and have suggested the matter be referred to the police because the leaflets potentially breach race relations legislation.

“It is obvious that these are racist and highly inflammatory statements which insult both Turkey and the Turkish nation as a whole and put hundreds of thousands of Turks and Turkish Cypriots who live and have been born in Britain at risk of racist abuse and attacks,” said Orhan Tung, a spokesman for the embassy.

“I think the leaflets are a clear breach of both the Race Relations Act and the Racial and Religious [Hatred] Act, which makes it an offence to distribute written material with the intent to stir up religious or racial hatred. We believe that the relevant British authorities such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission should consider taking legal action against the party in question.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission also criticised the material and warned that Scotland needed immigration to counter the effects of an ageing declining population. A spokeswoman said: “Because immigration to Scotland is necessary and because we want to build the population to meet the challenges of the future, we want to work against the tension and unease rather than ignite it as the BNP seems to be doing.”

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it is examining the complaint and that the government is “firmly committed to the elimination of all forms of racism and intolerance”.

John Walker, a spokesman for the BNP, denied its literature was racist. “We oppose the creeping Islamification of Europe and our country which we see as a threat. If the Turkish embassy doesn’t like it, that’s tough — our duty is to look after Britain’s interests.”

Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP, launched his party’s European election campaign earlier this month, setting out its opposition to Turkey joining the EU and putting British jobs at risk. He claims the party could win up to seven seats in next month’s European elections. Mainstream parties fear that it may win at least one seat, including in northwest England where Griffin is standing.

Sunday Times, 24 May 2009