An extremist Greek MP, who last week was captured shouting homophobic and racist insults at a theatre director in a YouTube video, has spoken of his pride at his violent behaviour.

In an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight programme, Ilias Panagiotaros, of the far-right Golden Dawn party, said Greece is ready for a “civil war”.

Golden Dawn has been on the ascendancy since June’s election and its supporters have been linked to a significant number of attacks on migrant workers, rival political groups and LGBT Greeks.

Mr Panagiotaros appears to be actively encouraging violence and has been selling vigilante equipment in the shop that he owns.

Last week, Mr Panagiotaros led an angry mob that closed down a performance of the play, Corpus Christi in Athens.

They argued its portrayal of Jesus Christ as a gay man amounted to blasphemy.

Police officers were seen failing to intervene as the MP shouted homophobic and racist abuse at the director of the play, who was forced to hide inside the building along with the actors.

“This was the Greek Kristallnacht,” said Laertis Vassiliou, the play’s director.

“People went home with broken bones. Every day they phone me now, they phone the theatre, saying: your days are numbered.”

Chillingly, the violent mentality of Golden Dawn appears to be receiving increased support from Greece’s police force and among a significant section of the Greek electorate.

The BBC reports it is now the third most popular party at 12%.

Its parliamentarians have threatened to “drag migrant children from the kindergartens”.

Earlier this week, a decision by Greek state television to censor a gay kiss scene in the British drama Downton Abbey, sparked fears by the left-wing political party Syriza, that it could be down to the influence of Golden Dawn.