The head of the populist UK Independence Party (UKIP) has been criticized by the party’s former leader for joining an anti-Muslim rally last weekend in the northern city of Sunderland.
Speaking after the Islamophobic rally, Nigel Farage warned that Gerard Batten needs "to be careful what company he keeps".
At the rally, organized by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) – an anti-Muslim movement formed by far-right hooligans –Batten gave a speech in which he targeted Muslims and Islam.
Batten also insulted Prophet Mohammad in his speech, according to coverage of the rally by Sky News.
Three people were arrested, including one protester who swung a British flag at a police officer on horseback, the news organization said.
The group’s members also clashed with protesters at an anti-racism rally held in the city on the same day.
"My concern with all of these groups is that that argument spills into an argument against an entire religion," Farage told Sky News.
The Islamophobic Football Lads Alliance was formed in 2017 by former football hooligan John Meighan to unite supporters from different clubs against Islam.
After it was criticized for racist content, the group renamed itself the Democratic Football Lads Alliance.
UKIP has become an attraction for British far-right groups since the Brexit vote in 2016.
Batten recently invited Tommy Robinson, founder of the far-right racist organization English Defence League (EDL) and anti-Islam organization Pegida UK, to join his party.
Farage, when he was UKIP’s leader in 2006, banned former far-right group leaders from joining the party.