1 August 1986|
Hammersmith, London, England
|Alma mater||University of Westminster|
UK Independence Party (2014–2015, 2016–present)|
Conservative Party (former)
Raheem Kassam (born 1 August 1986) is a British political activist, former editor-in-chief of Breitbart News London, and former chief advisor to UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage. Kassam contested the party's November 2016 leadership election before dropping out of the race on 31 October 2016.
Early life and education
Kassam was born in Hammersmith Hospital, London. His parents were Tanzanian immigrants of Gujarati origin from Hillingdon, Greater London. He was raised an Ismaili Muslim, but wrote in 2016 that he had not been a practising Muslim for over a decade and didn't believe in any of it.
Kassam is an atheist, stating that Christopher Hitchens' rejection of religious faith ("religions are versions of the same untruth") inspired him. Kassam was educated at Bishopshalt School, a state comprehensive school in Uxbridge and St Helen's College, Hillingdon, and then studied Politics at the University of Westminster.
Life and career
Kassam was a national executive board member of youth movement Conservative Future and director of campus anti-extremism group Student Rights, and campaigned against the London School of Economics for accepting money from Gaddafi's Libya; the university's director Howard Davies would later resign when new revelations revealed the extent of the institution's relationship with the Gaddafi regime. In a 2011 interview, Kassam named his idols as Michael Gove, Margaret Thatcher and Barry Goldwater, and spoke of his admiration for the United States' free markets. He attended the University of Westminster at the same time as the ISIS executioner known as "Jihadi John", and has called his alma mater a "hot bed" of fundamentalism.
Kassam has worked for a Lehman Brothers call center, managed electoral campaigns in the UK and United States and was Executive Editor of The Commentator blogging platform, but left the organisation after falling out with the founding editor, Robin Shepherd. He has been a member of conservative think-tanks such as the Bow Group, the Henry Jackson Society, the Gatestone Institute, the Middle East Forum, and was involved in an attempted foundation of the UK version of the Tea Party movement. He and James Delingpole set up the London edition of the American conservative news outlet Breitbart News. Kassam left Breitbart in May 2018.
UK Independence Party
Following his period with the Conservative Party, Kassam became a UK Independence Party voter in late 2013, joined the party early in the following year, and soon became Nigel Farage's senior advisor.
After the resignation of Diane James as UKIP leader in October 2016, Kassam launched a campaign to become the new leader. On announcing his bid, he stated that he wanted to "stop infighting within UKIP", "address the deep cultural and social divides in this country", and "to become the real opposition and put this feckless Labour Party to bed." His campaign slogan was "Make UKIP great again". In an interview with Evan Davis on the BBC's Newsnight, Kassam announced his intentions to resolve UKIP's "existential crisis" and pledged to increase UKIP's membership to 100,000.
Kassam's activity on social media has attracted negative attention. In June 2016 he posted a tweet (later deleted) suggesting First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon should have her "mouth taped shut. And her legs, so she can't reproduce". After being criticised by the Scottish National Party MP Stewart McDonald on Twitter, Kassam replied that he would not be lectured to by a "National Socialist party". He later apologised. He has tweeted in the past that Suzanne Evans, a candidate in the second 2016 UKIP leadership election, should "fuck off for good", and questioned whether Labour MP Angela Eagle attended a "special needs class".
After Evans said on Andrew Marr's Sunday morning television programme that her "far right" and "toxic" rival would take the party away from the interests of ordinary people, Kassam questioned Suzanne Evans' leadership capabilities and asserted that she had made "smears" against him. Farage repudiated Evans' comments about Kassam shortly afterwards.
At the launch of his leadership campaign, Kassam called for a national referendum on the right of women in the UK to wear the niqāb, claimed then-U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump does not hold anti-Muslim opinions, and cast doubt on the multiple claims of sexual assault made against Trump. He also labelled his movement as Faragist and quipped that he was the "Faragest of the Faragists". Kassam gained the personal support of Arron Banks, the principal funder of UKIP.
Kassam "suspended", or withdrew, from the leadership contest on 31 October 2016, a few hours before nominations closed. Having concluded that he had only a slight chance of winning, citing insufficient funds, he criticised the media attention he received and was critical of what he claimed was media intimidation of his parents. He also questioned the fairness of a UKIP ballot. "When Times journalists show up at my elderly parents' house, intimidating them, I draw the line," he said.
In his October 2016 Newsnight interview, Kassam suggested that Donald Trump would be a better President of the United States than Hillary Clinton. A few days after the result of the American presidential election was announced, Kassam accompanied Farage when the former UKIP-leader was the first British politician to meet President-elect Trump, at Trump Tower.
In January 2018, Kassam received media coverage for stating during a Sky News interview that London had become "a shithole" under Mayor Sadiq Khan, intentionally mirroring similar alleged comments U.S. President Trump made on immigration shortly before.
On 14 August 2017, Kassam published his book No Go Zones: How Sharia Law Is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You through conservative publisher Regnery Publishing, with Nigel Farage writing the foreword to the book. On 19 April 2018, Kassam self-published Enoch Was Right: 'Rivers of Blood' 50 Years On, in which he argues that Enoch Powell's anti-immigration Rivers of Blood speech has been realised.
- "Raheem's Biography/CV". Make UKIP Great Again. Retrieved 22 October 2016.[dead link]
- "UKIP's Steven Woolfe and Raheem Kassam to stand for leadership". BBC News. 5 October 2016.
- Stone, Jon (31 October 2016). "Raheem Kassam pulls out of Ukip leadership race". The Independent. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
- Bush, Stephen (25 October 2016). "The rise of Raheem Kassam, Nigel Farage's back-room boy". New Statesman. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
- Kenber, Billy; Fisher, Lucy (29 October 2016). "Ukip contender is quick to show his bitter credentials". The Times. Retrieved 31 October 2016. (subscription required)
- Walker, Peter (October 28, 2016). "Ukip leadership candidate defends Trump and calls for niqab referendum". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
- "Thank you, Mr. Hitchens - The Commentator". www.thecommentator.com. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
- "Rainbow Tories: The geek, the fundraiser and the Tanzanian immigrant's son". The Evening Standard. 6 October 2011.
- Vasagar, Jeevan; Syal, Rajeev (2011-03-03). "LSE head quits over Gaddafi scandal". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-01-16.
- "Raheem Kassam: Steve Bannon Is 'the Man Who Flew to London to Hire This Brown Guy from a Muslim Family'". Breitbart News.
- "Raheem Kassam". BBC Three. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
- Gray, Rosie (May 23, 2018). "Breitbart's Raheem Kassam Is Out". Retrieved June 8, 2018.
- "Raheem Kassam on UKIP fighting and leadership contest". BBC News. 7 October 2016.
- "Steven Woolfe and Raheem Kassam throw hats in ring for UKip leadership". The Herald. 5 October 2016.
- Mason, Rowena (5 October 2016). "Ukip leadership contest: five likely contenders to succeed Diane James". The Guardian.
- "Ukip leadership candidate Steven Woolfe quits party following conference altercation furore". Chester and District Standard. 18 October 2016.
- "Raheem Kassam: UKIP is in an 'existential crisis'". BBC News. 18 October 2016.
- Merrick, Rob (24 October 2016). "Ukip at war again as two more leadership candidates put themselves forward". The Independent. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
- Allegretti, Aubrey (23 October 2016). "Ukip Leadership Contender Raheem Kassam Sparks Outrage For History Of Controversial Twitter Posts". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
- McGrath, Hannah; Fisher, Lucy (25 October 2016). "Abusive tweets were a silly joke, says Ukip contender". The Times. Retrieved 28 October 2016. (subscription required)
- Walker, Peter (28 October 2016). "Ukip leadership candidate defends Trump and calls for niqab referendum". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
- Bennett, Asa (24 October 2016). "Nigel Farage is Ukip's Tony Blair. After historic success, it is tearing itself apart over his legacy". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
- Keste, Georgie (24 October 2016). "Ukip hopeful too right wing, says rival". The Times. Retrieved 31 October 2016. (subscription required)
- Black, Will (25 October 2016). "If Raheem Kassam Is The Best UKIP Can Offer, It's Screwed". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
- "'Farage-ist' Raheem Kassam launches UKIP leadership bid". BBC News. 28 October 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
- "Ukip Leadership Contender Launches Bid As 'Faragest Of The Faragists'". The Huffington Post. 28 October 2016.
- Fisher, Lucy (31 October 2016). "Ukip leadership contender launches bid on Friday — quits on Monday". The Times. Retrieved 31 October 2016. (subscription required)
- Metro.co.uk, Richard Hartley-Parkinson for (2016-10-31). "Raheem Kassam pulls out of leadership race for Ukip". Metro. Retrieved 2016-12-22.
- Mason, Rowena (31 October 2016). "Raheem Kassam pulls out of Ukip leadership contest". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
- Hurfurt, Jake; Pells, Rachael (1 November 2016). "Oxford University students called 'inbred' by ex-Ukip leadership candidate". The Independent. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
- "Nigel Farage becomes first UK politician to meet Donald Trump". Sky News. 13 November 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
- Raheem Kassam Blasts Sky News, Sadiq Khan Over 'Shithole London'
- Jacobs, Ben (January 13, 2018). "After Bannon: the new faces of the hard right". The Guardian. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
- Jonathan, Robert (January 14, 2018). "London Is A 'S***hole,' Breitbart London Editor Raheem Kassam Claims [Video]". Inquisitr. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
- Kassam, Raheem (2017). No Go Zones: How Sharia Law Is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing. ISBN 9781621576808.
- Kassam, Raheem (2018). Enoch Was Right: 'Rivers of Blood' 50 Years On. Self-published. ISBN 978-1980818823.
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