For Immediate Release

7 July 2001



Members of the far right-wing organization, the National Front (NF), have been planning to hold a rally in Bradford’s city center today, despite Home Secretary David Blunkett’s ban on the party from marching in the city. Last week white supremacists threatened to gather in the city with the aim of triggering another race riot that could dwarf last month’s eruption of ethnic and religious tensions in Oldham, and later Burnley.

Blunkett’s ban was therefore unlikely to persuade NF members to stay at home. Although the NF was banned from marching in Oldham, this did not prevent it rallying in coordination with other extremist groups, thus sparking off one of the worst riots Britain has seen for two decades. A spokesman for the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) in Bradford expressed anger at police complicity in the exacerbation of tensions, noting that police had ignored the influx and escalating activity of right-wing extremists, instead choosing to contain peaceful demonstrators from the Anti-Nazi League (ANL) as well as local Asians. The police tactic of directing most of their efforts at targeting Asians and ANL demonstrators was strongly condemned by the CRE representative who highlighted the activity of far-right groups as the principal cause of tensions.

The right-wingers appear to be operating under the banner of a new organization calling itself the Order of the White Knights, reportedly consisting of NF and Combat 18 extremists (see Observer, 1 July 2001). A post from a member of the Order on the discussion forum at the NF website declares that: “The Order of White Knights is committed too [sic] and respects all the policies of the NF… We appeal to all whites to take up the cross and join the rebirth of our forefathers Crusade. Rid this land of all Moors.”* The Order’s patron saint is Saint James, otherwise known as Santiago Matamorres, i.e. Saint James, Slayer of Moors. The term “Moors” refers to Spanish Muslims at the time of their rule in Spain. According to Spanish Christian tradition, St. James the Greater preached Christianity in the country and succeeded in murdering en masse 60,000 Spanish Muslims.**

Massoud Shadjareh, Chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), said:

“The source of the Order’s inspiration is a direct indication of the primarily Islamophobic focus of the activities of right-wing white supremacists such as the National Front and Combat 18. The aim of their violent activities is not merely to target ethnic minorities, but further, following in the footsteps of their mythical version of St James, to target and literally cleanse Muslims in what seen by them as a holy crusade. The government and the police must take note of the grave implications. Unless meaningful programmes of protection, education and social welfare are conducted throughout the UK, and unless it is acknowledged that the principal victims of racist groups are Muslims, we are going to be facing an escalating catastrophe of unprecedented proportions, far outweighing what happened at Oldham and Burnley. Pre-emptive action is urgently needed. Above all the government absolutely must recognise the level of hostility and discrimination against Muslims and legislate against this form of hatred.”

For further analysis of last month’s rioting in Oldham, its causes, and recommendations for how to move forward, see IHRC’s report on its preliminary findings, The Oldham Riots: Discrimination, Deprivation, and Communal Tension in the United Kingdom, June 2001. For more information on the above, and to obtain a copy of IHRC’s report on Oldham, please contact the IHRC Press Office on (+44) 20 8902 0888, (+44) 7958 522 196, e-mail:

*The entire post reads: “Out of the ashes and ashes of the old is born a new religious Order. The Order of White Knights is committed too and respects all the policies of the NF. We follow the symbolic meaning of the eight pointed cross, our symbol. Our Patron Saint is the Apostle St James Slayer of Moors. We seek the unity of all far right parties and orgs. Metaphorically our search is for the Holy Grail. Symbolic of far right unity. We appeal to all oppressed working class whites to follow our Order. Seek the eternal light and white cause. We appeal to all whites to take up the cross and join the rebirth of our forefathers Crusade. Rid this land of all Moors. God seeks purity. Purity of Race. By the Grace of God we Shall Reconquer.”

**According to the Christian Spaniard Francisco Carenas in his paper, The myth of Santiago de Espana and its repercussion in the Spanish Reconquest and in the New World, calamity “only could be warded off with the divine help of a crusading Spain led by Santiago Matamoros. It was in that vein that the crusaders began arriving in the peninsula at the end of the eleventh century to participate in the enterprise of expelling the Muslims from Christian territory… A peaceful apostle of Christ during his lifetime, he took arms and he rode a white horse ten centuries after his death, and was our spiritual leader and crusader during six centuries, first in Spain and later in America, and the battle cry became ‘Santiago y cierra Espana’ (Saint James and close ranks, Spain). The calm and quiet disciple was transformed by virtue of necessity and popular devotion into an intrepid war figure that led them to victory… It is difficult to assess the impact that the discovery of the relics of St. James had in western Christianity in the ninth century. The exhilaration and strength, the emotional and spiritual power brought upon them, made those medieval peoples apparently fearless of defeat. Finally the progress of Islam could be checked…. The idea of Holy War became a reality and, from then on, the Spaniards would not cease to fight, divinely predestined, until the Moors were expelled.”