An elderly Sikh who describes Islam as a "beast" and once provided a character reference for Nick Griffin during his racial hatred trial is set to become the British National Party's first non-white member.
Rajinder Singh, an anti-Islam activist in his late seventies who blames Muslims for the death of his father during the Partition of India in 1947, has been sympathetic towards Britain's far-right party for much of the past decade even though he currently remains barred from becoming a member because of the colour of his skin.
But last weekend the BNP's leadership took their first steps towards dropping its membership ban on non-whites after the Human Rights Commission threatened the party with legal action. The move will be put to a vote of members soon.
Martin Wingfield, the BNP's communications and campaigns officer, has already put forward the case for Mr Singh's membership, telling members on its website: "I say adapt and survive and give the brave and loyal Rajinder Singh the honour of becoming the first ethnic minority member of the BNP."
A BNP spokesman said last night: "He is perhaps the kind of immigrant you want if you are going to have them."
Mr Singh, a former teacher from Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, says he would be "honoured" to become a card-carrying member of the BNP.
Explaining his motives, Mr Singh said: "I am a retired teacher, living a quiet life. I got in touch with the BNP on certain core policies that appeal to me. I also admire them since they are on their own patch, and do not wish to let anyone else oust them from the land of their ancestors."
Mr Singh and another Sikh from Slough who goes by the pseudonym Ammo Singh have previously co-operated with the BNP and have been used by the party's leadership to try to woo Asian supporters, particularly Hindus and Sikhs living in areas where tensions with Muslims run high. The party has had little success, however, with all mainstream Sikh and Hindu groups widely condemning the BNP.
But Rajinder Singh and Ammo Singh – who keeps his identity secret but is thought to be an accountant in his late thirties – have answered Mr Griffin's call, thanks to the BNP's staunchly anti-Islamic rhetoric since September 11.
In December 2001, Ammo Singh claimed he had helped the BNP distribute thousands of anti-Islamic leaflets in Southall, west London, but recently he has kept a low profile. Rajinder Singh, on the other hand, has begun to appear in BNP literature more frequently, writing for the party's newspaper, Freedom, and appearing on the internet television channel, BNPTV.
His intense dislike of Islam appears to stem back to his father's death during the Partition of India, which led to the deaths of an estimated two million Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus. "I come from partitioned Punjab that saw a lot of bloodshed in 1947," he said. "Anyone escaping that genocide would pray to God, [say] never again and vote for BNP."
Mainstream Sikh groups said they were appalled. Dr Indarjit Singh, director of the Network of Sikh Organisations, said: "Sikhism stresses equality for all human beings. Therefore Sikhs who are true to their faith, will having nothing whatsoever to do with any party that favours any one section of the community."Reuse content