Farage’s party defends Reform UK candidate who describes himself as ‘proud Islamophobe’

Charles Bunker, Reform UK’s would-be MP for Hitchin, describes his views as ‘the only logical, intelligent position to take’

Nigel Farage in Clacton. Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images
Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party has said “candidates have views of their own and are as free to express them as anyone else, even if they are not shared by all their party colleagues”. Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images

Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party has defended the right of a parliamentary candidate to describe himself as a “proud Islamophobe” after Hyphen uncovered troubling social media posts spanning 13 years.

Charles Bunker, Reform UK’s candidate for the Hertfordshire constituency of Hitchin, posted the comment on X on 9 November 2023, replying to Amy Mek, a prominent anti-Muslim X user. Bunker, the 73-year-old former non-executive director of an NHS trust added: “To be fearful of Islam is the only logical, intelligent position to take.”

Bunker has a history of posting anti-Islam content online. In October 2023, he accused Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, of “leading an Islamification process where Muslims do what they like on our street but if you are native Britain [sic] and White you get arrested and carted off for a minor infraction”. 

A month later he replied to Labour MP Apsana Begum: “Fear of Islam is the only rational, logical position to take if you don’t want your clitoris cut off, or forced into an arranged marriage…”

In January, in a 10,000-word post on his Substack account — a link to which appears on the Reform UK website — he wrote that “the culture of Islam is derived from its founder who, as Islamic historians confirm, was an illiterate, lying, stealing, murdering, paedophilic, rapist, warlord, and this behaviour is practised wherever Islam has a foot print”.

Screenshot of an Islamophobic tweet by Reform UK's candidate for Hitchin, Charles Bunker.
A screenshot of one of many Islamophobic tweets sent by Reform UK’s candidate for Hitchin, Charles Bunker

“Islam is a totalitarian political force disguised as religion and we’ve been stupid enough to let it into our country in force,” he wrote on his X account in May

Speaking to Hyphen in response to questions about his comments, Bunker said: “I was a passionate believer in multiculturalism, I strived for it. I am a son of Martin Luther King.”

However, he now believes that multiculturalism is beginning to fail. 

“Hitchin is a very fortunate town,” Bunker said of his home, where he is currently polling at around 10% of the vote. “We have a lovely Sikh and Hindu community and they are just lovely, lovely, lovely people, But just up the road, about 10 miles away, we have the town of Luton, where we are seeing difficulties with a 36% Islamic population.”

According to 2021 Census data, Muslims account for 32.9% of Luton’s population.

Among the “problems” Bunker has noticed is the fact that a public cemetery in the town of Banbury, Oxfordshire, has a designated Muslim section. 

While Bunker believes the Muslim section to be a sign of separatism, it is common practice for British cemeteries to offer separate areas for different religions, including Catholics and Jews, who hold different beliefs regarding the consecration of burial grounds.

“Not only does the west have a problem with Islam, but Islam has a problem with Islam,” Bunker told Hyphen. “Eighty-five per cent of Muslims want to live amongst us peacefully and be part of our community. But it’s the 15% of radical Islamists that are causing a problem.”

Earlier this week Farage threatened to sue the company tasked with vetting the party’s parliamentary candidates, following a string of revelations related to the online activities of its would-be MPs.

Yet when approached for comment, Reform UK was quick to defend its candidate, stating that Muslim entrepreneur Zia Yusuf’s reported six-figure donation to the party is more “representative”.

“[Candidates] also have views of their own and are as free to express them as anyone else, even if they are not shared by all their party colleagues,” a spokesperson wrote in an email. 

“Millions of people want journalists to discuss the policies and ideas that will fix Broken Britain, not indulge in juvenile gotcha politics, every time they find a comment or a ‘like’ — often from many years ago — that happens to horrify their London liberal sensibilities.” 

Bunker has sent more than 13,400 tweets since May 2011, many of which concern Islam.

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