A council candidate in Hackney has been suspended by the Conservative Party for anti-Muslim posts on social media, the Citizen can reveal.
Alexander van Terheyden, standing for the Conservatives in Hoxton West, has called Islam a “violent political ideology” comparable to fascism and communism, and recently attended a rally headed by the former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.
He has also called the UK’s refusing entry to alt-right activists who target NGO ships rescuing migrants a “disgrace”, and said the crusades were “simply a response to Islam spreading through Europe by the sword”.
The Hackney Conservative Party says it was not aware of Terheyden’s social media posts and is “urgently investigating”, adding that Terheyden has been “suspended with immediate effect”.
Terheyden claims he is not anti-Muslim, only anti-Islam.
The Hackney Conservative Federation, in a statement today, said: “Yesterday, we were forwarded an email from Adam Barnett of the Hackney Citizen regarding posts made by Alex van Terheyden on social media.
“We were unaware of these posts and are urgently investigating this matter.
“Mr van Terheyden’s membership of the Conservative Party has been suspended with immediate effect.”
Imtiaz Lunat, the Conservative Party’s candidate for Mayor of Hackney, has been contacted for comment but has not replied at time of publication.
Terheyden, a video blogger, DJ and former Pirate Party candidate, attended the Tommy Robinson “free speech” rally in Hyde Park on 18 March, and shared photos and a video of the event on Facebook and YouTube.
In a Facebook discussion about Islam under the photos, Terheyden said: “A political ideology that was born out of violence and pushed upon the world with violence by a dishonest tyrant deserves as much criticism as it can get and hopefully in time people will see it for what it really is.”
In the same post he endorsed a piece from the far-right website Gates of Vienna titled “The Crusades: A Response to Islamic Aggression”, and said: “As David previously stated the crusaders were simply a response to Islam spreading through Europe by the sword.
“Should they have sat back and done nothing and watched while Christians were taxed into submission or beheaded?”
In his video of the Robinson event, Terheyden attacked the UK’s refusing entry to Austrian Martin Sellner of the alt-right group Generation Identity, who last summer tried to block NGO ships rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean.
When contacted by the Citizen, Terheyden said he attended the Robinson rally because he believes in free speech, and said he doesn’t share the views of everyone who spoke there.
He said: “I’ve stated Islam is a violent political ideology. Note the word ‘political’ and not religious. Note I do not refer to Muslims, I refer to the political ideology.
“My views have always been public. If you mean the fact that I’m happy to voice my discontent [sic] for communism, fascism, Islam and other extreme political ideologies there is no secret to this.”
When asked about his support for far-right anti-Muslim politics, Terheyden replied: “Define far-right. I don’t support any far-right parties and I am not anti-Muslim.”
He also restated his views on the UK’s refusing entry to Sellner and other alt-right activists, saying: “I personally think this is a disgrace considering they are either conservative journalists and lean to the right on the political spectrum.
“Do they preach hate? No. And yet the UK government had never stopped a number of hate preachers entering our country and preaching hate.”
Samir Jeraj, chair of the Hackney Green Party, said: “Far-right extremists and their sympathisers have no place in our community.
“Islamophobic attitudes like these are vile, ignorant and hateful. We are deeply concerned about the growing influence of racist and anti-immigrant attitudes in the Conservative Party at a national level.”
He added: “Hopefully the quick action taken against this person shows they are willing to challenge these views.”