5 Things You May Want to Know About TELL MAMA

1) Are you working with other organisations?

We work in partnership with a range of mainstream and statutory organisations such as Victim Support, local police forces, advice agencies and with social media platforms, (where applicable). We share platforms with some organisations and we have a ‘no platform’ policy of talking at events with extreme groups.

Just because we share platforms with organisations does not mean that we are part of them or that we work with them. For example, we have shared platforms with the Quilliam Foundation, an anti-extremism organisation, who kindly organised an event for us. They are a separate organisation and we, as Faith Matters, co-ordinating the TELL MAMA project, are a separate organisation. Our independence is fundamental to us and we will maintain our independence for the benefit of users and beneficiaries.

2) Are you the only organisation undertaking anti-Muslim monitoring work?

Yes, no other organisation in the UK is undertaking anti-Muslim mapping, measuring and monitoring work. We are leaders in the field in developing knowledge in this area and whilst some organisations may suggest that they do work in anti-Muslim prejudice monitoring, they simply do not focus wholly on it or have the capability to fully analyse what is happening at a grass-roots level. Obviously, the police do, yet our work is providing a third-party community based service where anti-Muslim bigotry can be reported in.

3) Are you a Muslim organisation?

No, we work with faith communities through Faith Matters and we are not a ‘Muslim organisation’. What is key though is that TELL MAMA provides a community centred focus for information on anti-Muslim hate to be reported in and this is unique about the service. As we have stated before, one or two organisations will suggest that they do work on anti-Muslim hate crimes and what they do is to provide community information on where to report in. They do not have systems for case recording, data collection, analyses and routes into police forces where cases can be worked upon. We do and we hope that they will ensure that members of the public refer in information. Sadly though, some organisations who work with Muslim communities could do much more to ensure that people report into us and they choose not to provide a range of information sources to Muslim communities, whilst talking about ‘empowering’ Muslim organisations. This actually does a dis-service to Muslim communities.

4) What is your stance about homophobia and intra-Muslim bigotry?

We understand that people will have their own religious beliefs about issues relating to LGBTQ relationships. Our position is clear. We are not the ‘thought police’ and people can believe what they want. However, if that hate and bigotry is promoted publicly and targeted against people from these communities, or against groups like Ahmadiyya communities, we will support people reporting in that bigotry and we would expect that action is taken. Just as Muslims should not be targeted, so other communities should not be targeted and our Director, Fiyaz Mughal, has also stated this on many occasions, texts of which can be found here, here and here

5) How can mosques and Islamic institutions help you?

We need them to report in hate crimes and they can do so through the following methods listed below. We also want individuals to come forward and report in anti-Muslim hate, whether at a street level or on-line, to us. It is essential for people to access justice and to stand up and be counted. We are also aware that some may not, and we can take in anonymous reports from them.  The key here is, don’t suffer in silence.

TELL MAMA can be contacted by phone on 0845 456 1226. By e-mail on info@tellmamauk.org, by Twitter on @tellmamauk and by Facebook: TELLMAMAUK. Individuals can also text us and we can call you back: 01157070007

Dear Ukip, We Need to Talk About Mosques

WestminsterCathedral

Dear UKIP,

It comes to our attention that a member of your party confused Westminster Cathedral for a mosque. It’s easily done though. Especially when trying to disprove a non-existent BBC conspiracy against UKIP.

Did your party member assume that every mosque has a towering minaret with slick Jihadi HR departments waiting inside?

Believe it or not, some mosques look fairly mundane (on the outside) compared to others, but once inside (after you’ve removed your shoes), the sense of serenity is universal.

The only talk of Jihad for many is the greater and personal pursuit of Islamic knowledge and what it means to be a better Muslim.

Outside of prayers, some even use their time inside mosques to discuss more mundane topics like football and the weather.

Fear not though, in the spirit of education, we’ve come up with a fail-safe plot to avoid this mistake in the future. Below you will find the addresses of mosques you can visit in the Kent area. Thanks to technology, most smartphones contain GPS so there’s no excuse for ignorance:

Margate Mosque & Community Centre, Union Crescent (former church), Margate, Kent, CT9 1NR

Canterbury Mosque (Muslim Cultural Centre), The Markaz, 1 Giles Lane, Canterbury, CT2 7LT.

Folkestone Mosque, 8a Foord Road South, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 1H

But for those in your party longing to restore this country to an imagined era of history, we are happy to provide pencils, paper and Ordinance Survey maps instead.

Signed,

Tell MAMA

Luton EDL Demonstration Turns into a Melee of Anti-Muslim Hate

English Defence LeagueThe Luton EDL demonstration which took place over the weekend, demonstrates the nature of the kind of aggression and hate that is targeted towards Muslims by sympathisers of the English Defence League.

The video outlined here highlights the aggressive nature of sympathisers. The following comments can be heard on the video:

“Muslim paedos off our streets,”

“You can stick your Allah up your a***,”

“Allah is a paedo,”

These inflammatory statements highlight the aggressive, poisonous and anti-Muslim nature of a group that use our democratic values to intimidate and spread their poison into communities. It is also an example to us all that we should remain vigilant against extreme groups like the English Defence League and against those who seek to hijack and abuse our democratic values for their autocratic and deeply dangerous views.

‘The Rivers of Blood are Close to Overflowing’, says Notice on Proposed Site for Mosque in Redbridge

Anti Mosque Literature, RedbridgeThis was a photograph which was sent to us from a member of the public. The shocking hate statement was placed outside a vacant building in Snakes Lane East, Woodford Green, Redbridge. It was placed outside a building where planning permission has been sought for a community centre with Muslim prayer facilities. The statement was plastered on one of the  windows in the morning.

The statement says:

“Enough is enough. A mosque is not wanted in Woodford. The rivers of blood are close to overflowing.”

The threatening and menacing tone of the statement has shocked local residents who spoke on the basis of anonymity. One stated:

“This is not the kind of hate and bigotry that we expect in an area where there are many communities that get on together. To have someone with such hate posting material in the dead of night frightens us and is not reflective of the area.”

Menacing EDL Demo in Luton Highlights the Aggressive Nature of this ‘Group’

If anyone needed to be reminded of the aggressive and menacing nature of English Defence League marches, then one only has to listen to this video, taken by an EDL supporter in Luton yesterday.

However, one thing to note is that we all need to reclaim the St George’s flag from extremist far right groups. This nation stands squarely against all forms of extremism and we need to reclaim our flag since it stands for all communities and should not be associated with extremist far right groups.

EDL sympathisers really show their nature as they aggressively taunt and focus their anger on a burger van. The sense of aggression is palpable and the ‘demo’ starts to turn menacing as young men hurl abuse and target their hate towards the burger van. In the middle of this melee, young men put on menacing masks whilst playing up to the mobile camera.

The EDL has historically attracted groups of young men from more extreme far right groups. This was even hinted to by the ex-leader of the EDL, Tommy Robinson, when he left the group and it seems that little has changed.

EDL Luton March

Why Were 4 Men Jailed for Throwing a Pig’s Head into Blackpool Mosque?

Headline: Why were four men jailed for throwing a pig’s head into Blackpool mosque?

The jailing of four men for throwing a severed pig’s head into the grounds of a mosque generated a manufactured outrage online.

Thomas Ashton, 21, Andrew Warner, 31, Travis Crabtree, 25, and Steven White, 28, all admitted a charge of religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress.

Ashton received a 10 month prison sentence, Warner seven months, White eight months and Crabtree 14 months.

In certain circles, the victims of this hate crime receive little empathy. For the perpetrators, the prison sentence was scoffed at, and falsely compared to the £50 fine an extremist member of the banned Muslims Against Crusades received for burning a poppy in 2011.

Others focus upon the ‘prank’ angle that was used by the defence during the trial at Preston Crown Court. An angle given prominence in the Daily Mail. But a closer reading of the news reports dismisses that argument.

So what are some of the factors that potentially influenced the outcome?

The incident took place two days after Lee Rigby’s murder (at a time when mosques in other parts of the UK were attacked). In all likelihood, Blackpool’s Muslim communities already felt on edge.

Judge Graham Knowles acknowledged this factor as he told the court: “All four defendants must have been perfectly aware, in broad terms, of that death and the motivation the murderers gave for that death and the heightened state of tension in the country in general.

Police later found a taunting and mocking message on White’s Facebook that read: “They will be fuming.” When White was arrested, a video was found on his iPhone that showed a car being driven by Warner.

The recording captured comments about Muslims and the prosecution argued that the four were aware of the significance of the pig’s head.

Ashton and Crabtree drove to the butcher’s shop to purchase the pig’s head. The other men joined the group once they became aware of the plan.

Two of the group then entered the grounds of the mosque and dumped the pig’s head (wrapped in a plastic bag) with their hoods up.

Worshippers (including women and children) saw the pig’s head as they arrived for prayers and felt upset and offended. A volunteer was only made aware of the incident after receiving a Facebook message that something suspicious was left outside the mosque.

Ashfaq Patel, the Imam at Blackpool Central Mosque, requested clemency, but it did not sway Judge Knowles, who described it as a “poisonous” crime.

He later added: “People are and must be free to worship as they please and without this kind of foul attack on them and that which they hold sacred. What you four did must be denounced.”

Jailed for Pig's Head Attack on Blackpool Mosque

Blackpool Mosque Comments

The Central Conduits of Anti-Muslim Bigotry and Online Hate

Rather than dedicate hundreds of words to the troll account @DowHeater (and its backup account @DowHeater2). The simplest solution is to highlight how the account routinely promotes content from Islamophobic websites like Jihad Watch or Bare Naked Islam.

Or retweets content from the unpleasant @JihadistJoe or individuals wanting Islam banned and mosques shut down in Britain.

How about manipulating police appeals with a crude anti-Muslim reference? On November 17 @DowHeater tweeted “FOUR Nasty Evil Bastard #Muslims kick a pregnant woman to the ground PL RT.”But the police make no reference to religion.

@DowHeater tweets another manipulated screen shot of a BBC news report that includes the word “Muslim”. Yet again, there is no reference to religion in the original article.

What about the far-right English Defence League? Turns out they’ve earned @DowHeater’s respect: “Don’t Believe BS abt #EDL these ppl have taken a lot of shit and lies thrown at them, #respect”

In August, @DowHeater exploited a series of murders to call for the boycott of Muslim businesses.

In July, the @DowHeater account wanted “Islam out of the UK” after linking to a story about Vue Cinemas ‘discriminating against non-Muslims’ (a story more complex than originally reported).

I’ve already dedicated more words than intended in exposing the vile @DowHeater account. Accounts like @DowHeater are only content with caricatures of religious identity – where the crimes of a minority are held up as the majority and where ethnicity brings an assumption of faith. The echo chamber is self-evident.

Robust critique of religion is welcome but advocating for its removal from Britain is not.

Britain First Facebook Page Praises Jean Marie Le Pen

Jean Marie Le PenIf anyone had some doubt that Britain First were a nationalist far right extremist group, then this example should do it. In a video posted on the Britain First Facebook page they demonstrate their affection for a French nationalist leader who has previously been accused of making antisemitic statements.

The video posted on their Facebook page highlights comments from Jean Marie Le Pen. In this recent article, Jewish leaders were reported to:


“have called on Le Pen, 85, to be stripped of his parliamentary immunity as an MEP after a controversial play on words linking “oven” with a celebrated Jewish singer in a video posted in the FN’s website.”

Jean Marie Le Pen is no stranger to making comments which have infuriated Jewish communities and which have been deemed to be antisemitic. The Anti-Defamation League has posted this on its web-site:

“Le Pen has repeatedly made statements that attempt to diminish or deny the Holocaust, once remarking that the Nazi gas chambers were “a mere detail” in history. He and his aides likewise have consistently espoused anti-Semitism. In February 1997, for example, Le Pen accused President Jacques Chirac of being “in the pay of Jewish organizations.” More recently, Le Pen has toned down his anti-Jewish sentiments, while focusing his oratory against Arab immigrants from North Africa.”

Stomach churningly, Britain First added this comment to the video showing Jean Marie Le Pen:

“We need more politicians in Britain First like this.” 

Frankly, this says everything about Britain First.

The Dudley mosque campaign

It took almost a decade for councillors to approve a new mosque in Dudley, after the initial proposal was launched in 2007.

The years brought far-right protests, a series of high court battles that resulted in lost decisions for both Dudley Council and Dudley Muslim Association, and a rejection of a larger proposal in 2011.

Kurshid Ahmed, from Dudley Muslim Association, noted that the plans had divided parts of the community.

“One must remember the Muslim community in Dudley is an integral part of the wider Dudley community and have rights to a place of worship… as any other community,” he said.

A look at the Census reveals that Dudley’s Muslim population has increased since 2001. But it remains the largest religious minority (4.1 per cent or 12,902 residents). Christianity remains the dominant religion in the region (63.5 per cent of residents) yet the number of residents not disclosing their faith is higher than the Muslim population (6.3 per cent). So the argument for a larger mosque is not unreasonable.

At the council’s development control committee, prior to approval, the Committee chairman, Cllr Qadar Zada said: “No-one has said much more than just about the mosque, very few times have I heard about the enterprise and training centre in one of the most deprived wards in Dudley.

Labelling the approved proposal a ‘mega-mosque’ is sensationalistic and ignores how non-Muslims benefit from the plans. Focusing upon the size of the mosque and minaret potentially feeds into far-right paranoia of what constitutes a ‘mega-mosque’.

The redevelopment includes an enterprise and education centre, a sports centre, a two-storey car park and the mosque benefits from three prayer rooms.

Another example of problematic reporting is found in today’s online edition of the Express & Star (November 12). The image (cropped to highlight just the mosque) distorts the entire proposal. It takes the reader several paragraphs to learn of the sports and community facilities.

Other councillors raised opposition to the mosque as went against the ‘historical character’ of Dudley. In the end, the plans were approved at a vote of 5-3. Supporters of the mosque packed out the town hall as a small protest took place outside.

Britain First made their presence felt outside amid a visible police presence. A video captures their deputy leader Jayda Fransen (a candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election) shouting: “You guys won’t get your mega mosque if we bury a pig on the grounds of it….Let’s see you worship upon ground that is infested with swine….you are going to stand on swine infested ground and worship your false prophet are you?

Public opinion in Dudley was not uniform in rejection or approval – the council received 885 letters of rejection and 370 in support – but a petition in favour of the proposal was handed to the council with 1,718 signatures.

After years of campaigning, bluster and arguments on both sides, a deprived area of Dudley will now flourish in redevelopment.

The Unvarnished Reality of the Dudley Mosque Affair

It took almost a decade for councillors to approve a new mosque in Dudley, after the initial proposal was launched in 2007.

The years brought far-right protests, a series of high court battles that resulted in lost decisions for both Dudley Council and Dudley Muslim Association, and a rejection of a larger proposal in 2011.

Kurshid Ahmed, from Dudley Muslim Association, noted that the plans had divided parts of the community.

“One must remember the Muslim community in Dudley is an integral part of the wider Dudley community and have rights to a place of worship… as any other community,” he said.

A look at the Census reveals that Dudley’s Muslim population has increased since 2001. But it remains the largest religious minority (4.1 per cent or 12,902 residents). Christianity remains the dominant religion in the region (63.5 per cent of residents) yet the number of residents not disclosing their faith is higher than the Muslim population (6.3 per cent). So the argument for a larger mosque is not unreasonable.

At the council’s development control committee, prior to approval, the Committee chairman, Cllr Qadar Zada said: “No-one has said much more than just about the mosque, very few times have I heard about the enterprise and training centre in one of the most deprived wards in Dudley.”

Labelling the approved proposal a ‘mega-mosque’ is sensationalistic and ignores how non-Muslims benefit from the plans. Focusing upon the size of the mosque and minaret potentially feeds into far-right paranoia of what constitutes a ‘mega-mosque’.

The redevelopment includes an enterprise and education centre, a sports centre, a two-storey car park and the mosque benefits from three prayer rooms.

Another example of problematic reporting is found in today’s online edition of the Express & Star (November 12). The image (cropped to highlight just the mosque) distorts the entire proposal. It takes the reader several paragraphs to learn of the sports and community facilities.

Other councillors raised opposition to the mosque as went against the ‘historical character’ of Dudley. In the end, the plans were approved at a vote of 5-3. Supporters of the mosque packed out the town hall as a small protest took place outside.

Britain First made their presence felt outside amid a visible police presence. A video captures their deputy leader Jayda Fransen (a candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election) shouting: “You guys won’t get your mega mosque if we bury a pig on the grounds of it….Let’s see you worship upon ground that is infested with swine….you are going to stand on swine infested ground and worship your false prophet are you?

Public opinion in Dudley was not uniform in rejection or approval – the council received 885 letters of rejection and 370 in support – but a petition in favour of the proposal was handed to the council with 1,718 signatures.

After years of campaigning, bluster and arguments on both sides, only a High Court judgement will determine if building work will start. Dudley Council is bidding to buy back the land, a decision opposed by Dudley’s Muslim Association.