UKIP leader Gerard Batten has linked Islam to the “industrialised sexual exploitation” of girls across the country.
“The ideology of the religion does actually traditionally throughout its history make sex slaves legitimate. Their prophet had sex slaves,” he said.
Challenged by Sky News presenter Gillian Joseph, he replied: “It’s in the Hadith and the Koran. It’s a tradition that that’s okay to do that.
“People take their prophet as the model for all time and the perfect human being, so if he did something then it’s okay for other people to do it.
“The problem is with the ideology, not individuals. I have never attacked individuals. I always talk about the ideology, and the ideology is the problem.”
Questioned again by the presenter that he was attacking the entire religion of Islam, he said: “It does allow their followers to take sex slaves who are not of the same religion.
“It is no good telling me and the world it doesn’t happen because everybody knows it does happen.
Mr Batten was asked why he isolated the sexual grooming of victims in areas such as Rotherham in south Yorkshire as a Muslim crime – and did not condemn other sexual crimes such as those committed by members of the Catholic Church.
Mr Batten said: “It is predominantly people who follow that religion who are causing this problem – on a national scale – which is the industrialised sexual exploitation for money and for their own perverted purposes. That happens to be a fact.
“I am happy to condemn paedophilia and child abuse and sexual abuse wherever it occurs – it is reprehensible whoever commits it.”
Asked if he still stood by his opinion that Islam is a “death cult”, he added: “Study its history for the last 1,400 years and take an impartial look at it and you might come to that view as well.”
Speaking as his party’s annual conference began in Birmingham, Mr Batten denied he was taking the party to the far- right.
“For the last 25 years, myself and everybody in UKIP has worked to restore our country’s former status as an independent, democratic nation that is governed by our politicians, elected by us, sackable by us, in accordance with our laws and customs and constitution.
“Now if that makes you far-right then whoever thinks that I think has got a strange idea of what constitutes far-right.”
It comes after his predecessor Nigel Farage warned the party faces “total and utter marginalisation” if it moves to the extremes of politics.
Mr Batten said he wanted UKIP to be a “populist” party with polices that are “popular with the public”, and the priority was to have a “clean exit” from the European Union.
“We fear that we are going to be betrayed over Brexit,” he said, claiming Prime Minister Theresa May “has no real intention of taking us out properly”.
He said: “My job and UKIP’s job is to restore itself as an electoral threat, because it was that electoral threat that achieved the referendum.
“Either we get out of the European Union cleanly or we are coming after your seats.”
After Mr Batten attended a demonstration in Sunderland over the weekend organised by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance, Mr Farage said his successor should be careful “what company he keeps”.
Mr Batten defended the rally and insisted it was not “anti-Muslim”.
He said: “Nigel is friends with Donald Trump who a lot of people like and call names. Nigel has gone to speak on platforms in Germany with Alternative fur Deutschland which a lot of people don’t like and call names. He is entitled to do that.
“And I am entitled to speak at rallies organised by people who believe in democracy as well. Maybe he should be a little bit more careful about criticising me because he has done similar things.”
Mr Farage has also voiced his concern over the prospect of figures such as English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson joining UKIP.
Mr Batten said Mr Robinson would not be admitted to the party “in the near future” because it would require changes to the rules but added it was “something I would personally approve”.
In a new 18-page manifesto, UKIP has included plans for an “NHS health card” entitling British citizens to free medical treatment but requiring non-Britons to have private medical insurance unless a post-Brexit UK has done a reciprocal deal with their government.
Other pledges including turning the UK Border Force into a “Migration Control Department” able to exclude “extremist” Muslims and a five-year ban on property purchases by foreign nationals in designated areas.
The party also wants to repeal hate speech guidelines, repeal the Equality Act 2010, shut down the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Government Equality Office.
Challenged by Joseph on whether this was in keeping with a diverse and multi-cultural society, Mr Batten replied: “The problem with hate crimes is that it is about somebody’s perceived notion of a crime… that is a very dangerous path to go down.”