A far-right former MP who addressed a UKIP conference in Doncaster and once called Islam ‘a disease’ has shocked his supporters – after becoming a Muslim.
Joram van Klaveren, who addressed supporters at UKIP’s annual party conference at Doncaster Racecourse in 2015, was a right-hand man of far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders and once called Islam 'the biggest disease to have hit our country in the last hundred years.'
An MP for Wilders' far-right Party for Freedom from 2010 to 2017, he had previously called for bans of both the Muslim face-veil and minarets – the towers seen on mosques.
But the 40-year-old said he had changed his mind halfway through writing a-book criticising Islam, when he found out he had more in common with the religion than he initially thought.
Van Klaveren said: 'I looked at the Bible on my bookshelf, on the table were books about the Prophet Muhammad.
'The prior years I had a big aversion to Islam. When you then have to conclude that you were wrong, it is not a fun moment.
'But while searching for God I always felt a certain unease. And that slowly disappeared. It felt a bit like coming home in a religious way.'
The Dutchman said that his wife had accepted his conversion and that he does not plan to force her or their two children to make the same decision as they are free to determine their own life.
He said: 'I never wanted to impose Christianity and I won't do it with Islam either.'
Van Klaveren said he 'did not suddenly become a lefty' and still holds dear many of his old views as his conversion is purely a personal religious matter.
He added: 'I contributed to maintaining and feeding a bad image of Islam, but you cannot realise how these prejudices work until you have to deal with them yourself.'
After splitting with Wilders PVV party, he then went on to form his own far-right party called 'For Netherlands' but left politics after failing to win a single seat in the 2017 elections.