Former UKIP leadership candidate Raheem Kassam has received criticism for verbally abusing Oxford students after withdrawing from UKIP’s leadership race.
The debate started when one Oxford first year posted a link to an article reporting Kassam’s decision to quit the race with the caption “Why are UKIP such a farce?”
On the Facebook group Open Oxford Kassam called students “inbred” and “chinless”, alongside attacking their political views and appearances.
Fierce argument then ensued in the comments section after Christ Church second year Louis McEvoy wrote “good riddance” to Kassam in expletive-laden terms.
Kassam responded to McEvoy’s comment a couple hours later with a screenshot of his profile picture. Mocking McEvoy’s appearance, he replied “At least I’ve got a chin” and called him a “Remainiac” and a “child”. When another student joined the argument he commented on a picture of the student “serious amounts of inbreeding going on here”.
One student commented, “It’s quite tragic a ‘professional’ politician and journalist has entered a flame war with an undergrad on an Oxford discussion forum”.
Kassam’s participation ended with, “You guys should learn to have some fun. Lighten up. You’re at university. Stop taking everything, including Facebook, so seriously. Have a laugh, move on. I can’t believe I have to tell kids to relax. Sad times.”
Second year student Tim Foster commented,”Wow, he [Kassam] roasted us. I don’t know how we’re going to recover.”
McEvoy since told The Independent that after the incident Kassam was still contacting him online.
McEvoy commented, “UKIP is doubtlessly in a death-spiral now that its lost its leader—the fact that a man like Raheem Kassam was considered as one of the frontrunners and a potential successor for Farage speaks volumes about the party. He personifies what was always at the heart of UKIP. His misogyny elsewhere is grotesque, but his behaviour on an online student forum is genuinely tragic. He is truly the British Donald Trump; hilarious and tragic.”
Kassam told Cherwell, “Stop taking everything so seriously, Louis. Facebook groups like Open Oxford were built for trolling.”
Kassam’s political career has not been without controversy as of late. It was reported last week that he called another UKIP leadership contender, Suzanne Evans “a wrinkley old ginger bird,” and was ordered to apologise for saying Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon should have her legs taped shut to stop her reproducing.
During his leadership campaign he also used the slogan “Make UKIP great again”, alluding to the mantra of Donald Trump’s US election campaign.
Earlier on Monday Kassam announced his withdrawal from the UKIP leadership race on Facebook.
He said in a statement, “As of today, I am formally suspending my campaign to be Ukip leader… This was a very difficult decision, and I want to thank everyone who supported me in the process.”
Kassam later complained he had faced “disgraceful treatment” from the media. He commented, “When Times journalists show up at my elderly parents’ house, intimidating them, I draw the line.”