A former Ukip parliamentary candidate is being investigated for hate crime after tweeting “Burn them all. Satan knows his own” in response to the mayor speaking at a Muslim event.
Paul Perrin claims the tweet was a “humorous quote” based on a well known phrase and that his followers on Twitter understood what he meant.
However, Brighton councillor Dan Yates did not get the joke and has reported him to Sussex Police, who say the tweet is being investigated as a hate crime.
Mr Perrin said: “It’s a quote during the Crusades, it’s well known. It’s a humourous quote. I’m not going to explain it to you because if you have to explain a joke it doesn’t work. People who follow me on Twitter will get it – it’s been liked a few times.
“If it turns out that a Labour councillor is trying to do a hatchet job by getting the police and press involved, that’s pretty nasty behaviour.”
Mr Perrin said he was also logging a complaint with police for divulging his personal details after they released a statement confirming a tweet was being investigated.
He also questioned how The Argus, who also contacted him about the tweet, had got his phone number, before conceding that he probably gave it to them when he stood as a parliamentary candidate.
When asked if he does hate muslims, Mr Perrin said: “I think this interview has just ended.”
A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said: “Police received a report of a response to a tweet as being racially or religiously motivated and inciting hatred towards muslims.
“The comments were reported and are being investigated as a hate crime.”
The tweet was made in response to a picture of Brighton and Hove Mayor Mo Marsh speaking at the Big Iftar event at Brighton Grand Hotel on Monday.
The Big Iftar encourages Muslim communities to welcome their Non-Muslim friends and neighbours as guests to their local Mosques and Centres to join them in sharing iftar during Ramadan.
The quote is based on a report by Caesarius of Heisterbach of the siege of Beziers. Caesarius attributed the words Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius (Kill them all for the Lord knoweth them that are His) to the Abbot of Citeaux, Arnaud Amalric.
Abbot Amalric was leading a Christian army as Papal legate and is said to have commanded them to kill all 20,000 inhabitants of Beziers after they refused to hand over about 200 heretics.
Mr Perrin’s first response was to ask if the Mayor had asked about gay and women’s rights or had instead “been nice”.
Mr Perrin stood for Ukip in Hove in 2010, but has since left the party.