CALLS have been made for a Ukip councillor to apologise after he said he wanted to ban any Muslims from joining the party.

Tom Hind, ward councillor on Hartlepool Borough Council, also said he believed Islam was “not a religion” but a “political ideology”.

The Ukip councillor, who represents the Seaton ward, made the comments on Ukip’s regional organisers Facebook page.

But last night, his party leader on Hartlepool Council said nobody would be “forced out” of the party based on their religious beliefs.

On the post, Cllr Hind said: “I have mentioned before that Ukip will have to make some difficult decisions if it is to move forward.

“One of those difficult decisions is Islam – I would like to ban any Muslim from joining Ukip.

“Islam is not a religion – it is a political ideology based on conquest.

“How many more assaults on the British people need we endure before we understand Islam?”

Speaking to The Northern Echo about his comments, Cllr Hind said he stood by his “personal and private” remarks.

Ukip are the second largest party on Hartlepool council and their leader, Cllr John Tennant, recently stood as the party’s candidate in the Tees Valley Mayor election.

Cllr Tennant said: “It is not out policy to force someone out of the party based on their religious beliefs.”

Mike Hill, Labour candidate for Hartlepool in next week’s General Election, said the comments were “beyond belief”

“It is fine for people of all colours and all religions to join whichever political party they want – that is what makes our democracy.

“For a Ukip candidate to go on record and suggest those views is beyond belief.

“I don’t know how the people of Hartlepool can vote for Ukip when the party is clearly in such disarray.”

Carl Jackson, Conservative candidate, added: “These disgraceful comments show that Ukip is completely unfit to represent the people of Hartlepool.

“The language of division and hatred has no place in the 21st Century and Cllr Hind should apologise.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Andy Hagon said: ‘I have many Muslim friends who were born in the UK, and they are some of the most gentle and caring people I know.

“Mr Hind is entitled to his opinion but I strongly disagree with it - at this time, we need to be creating an open and tolerant nation, not demonising sections of it.”

The Northern Echo approached Ukip candidate Phillip Broughton, but did not receive a response.