On the “likes” listed on his Facebook page, local politician Adrian “Charlie” Ratcliffe has a link to an offensive joke about strapping pork on to oneself and running into a mosque. The page also contains a picture depicting the Koran in a highly offensive light.
Mr Ratcliffe’s views were condemned across the town this week, with West Kent Muslim Association president Nasir Jamil saying: “This is absolutely concerning for all Muslims in this area.”
But the 61-year-old, an English Defence League (EDL) activist, was unrepentant, and endorsed extremely insulting remarks made by others about the prophet Mohammed. He also made inflammatory comments that English girls needed to be on the lookout for gangs of Islamic rapists.
Mr Ratcliffe, also chairman of the Tunbridge Wells branch of the English Democrats party, said he would do “whatever necessary” to fight “militant” Islam – a term he used to describe “a very large number” of people following the faith in the UK. He denied he was a racist.
The retired trade union official from Greggswood Road was once an assistant chaplain at Pembury Hospital and a preacher at St Philip’s Church in Sherwood. Both organisations distanced themselves from him this week.
The EDL regularly stages protests about the building of new mosques – and Mr Ratcliffe was proud to have taken part in one in Dagenham, east London.
Mr Ratcliffe – the one-time chairman of Sherwood Community Action Group – and his fellow EDL members openly discuss their beliefs on their Facebook pages, pointing each other in the direction of anti-Islamic material.
An online quiz question posed by a Facebook friend of Mr Ratcliffe asked recipients what they thought of Muslims. The choices were: “They’re OK”, “I hate ’em” or “I can’t stand ’em, send them all back”. Mr Ratcliffe chose the last option.
After originally denying he had taken part in the quiz, he told theCourier his answer was referring to “extremists”. When pressed on having a link to the offensive website suggesting people should strap pork on to themselves and run into mosques, Mr Ratcliffe said he had found it “humorous” and would not advocate doing such a thing in real life.
And he claimed he was unaware the anti-Islamic picture was on his Facebook page at all – despite the fact it was displayed at the top, directly below his name.
See also This is Kent, 1 April 2011