Gerard Batten, interim leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), has defended his belief that Islam is a "death cult", insisting his claim is "factually and historically true".

The London MEP took temporary control of the right wing party Saturday (17 February) after leader Henry Bolton was removed by members amid controversy which erupted when his partner, Jo Marney, made offensive comments about Meghan Markle, fiancee of Prince Harry.

Speaking to Sky News Sunday (18 February), the former Ukip Brexit spokesperson said he stood by comments he first made in a personal blog post after the 2017 Westminster attack.

He said: "What I wrote there about Islam is factually and historically true, and anybody that cares to look at the history of Islam over the last 1,400 years will see that that is true. It was propagated by invasion, by violence and intimidation.

"And if you look at every continent in the world where you have this belief, then you have violence. It glorifies death. They believe in propagating their religion by killing other people and martyring themselves and going and getting their 72 virgins.

"Not all of them – that's not saying that all of them do believe that or do that. I'm saying that a significant minority believe that and they are the problem. But the trouble is they are justified in those beliefs by a literalist interpretation of their own so-called holy texts."

Batten also reiterated the statement that Muslims living in the UK should sign an agreement that denounces the sections of the Quran that, he says, are used to justify violence.

"I don't think it's unreasonable to think that people who come and live in our country should reject these dark-age ideologies, which many of them bring with them.

"They're the ones with the problem, because it's their extremist ideology. Kill infidels wherever you find them, make war on infidels, strike terror into the hearts of infidels."

The interim leader was also questioned about his stance on the building of new mosques in the UK. He said: "Islam doesn't allow a Christian church or a Sikh temple to be built in its heartland, because it's in the Quran. That may be my personal opinion. [Policy wise] no foreign money should be allowed to fund extremist mosques and imams."

The election to formally decide the next party leader will be made within 90 days, officials said.