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.

Anti-Muslim prejudice: some causes and counter-strategies, by Mohammed Amin

Mohammed Amin is a patron of Tell MAMA. He is writing in a personal capacity.

In my view there are three fundamental causes of anti-Muslim prejudice.

Firstly, prejudice against otherness and difference is a universal human failing. There are many types of difference:

  • Colour
  • Culture
  • Language
  • Religion

Most other groups in Britain exhibit perhaps one or two differences. For example Black Caribbeans have a different colour, but their culture, language and religion are often the same or similar to white Britons.

In the case of Muslims in Britain, all four of these factors often apply at the same time. That makes this first universal failing stronger in its impact upon Muslims.

Secondly, for approximately 25 years, anti-Muslim prejudice has been fuelled by the deplorable behaviour of some Muslims. This began with the book burning and death threats against Salman Rushdie arising from his book “The Satanic Verses”. We subsequently saw terrorism overseas by Muslims such as the East Africa embassy bombings, 9/11 and then terrorism at home in the form of 7/7. Against this background no Muslim should be surprised by a rise in anti-Muslim prejudice.

Thirdly, we Muslims often create difference between Muslims and others when we don’t need to, by the language that we use. To give just three examples.

Allah instead of God
Isa instead of Jesus
Moussa instead of Moses

Each of the above choices creates the implication that Muslims are talking about someone different. Our own language creates the implication that Muslims worship a different god from Jews or Christians.

The anti-Muslim sentiments that exist in certain parts of the population are then fed by some politicians such as Nick Griffin of the British National Party and by some segments of the media for their own political or commercial purposes.

The common denominator of anti-Muslim prejudice is that, at its most fundamental, it denies Muslims the same rights that others take for granted. This includes the right to practice their religion and to express their views on political domestic and foreign policy issues.

Muslims and the media

Countering anti-Muslim prejudice requires good media skills.

While some Muslims are of course media astute, my perception of Muslim organisations and Muslim leaders generally is that their media skills are woefully lacking. This arises from many of these leaders having grown up overseas and therefore not fully understanding British society at its most intuitive level.

For example, after the 7/7 bombings in 2005 many Muslim leaders, including I recall the Muslim Council of Britain, combined condemnation of the terrorism with attempts to explain what had caused it. There were two fundamental failings in what I recall hearing and seeing at that time.

Firstly, there was condemnation of terrorism in the abstract but almost no condemnation of the terrorists as real people. In an interview, I once described the 7/7 bombers as “bastards.” While such language may make some Muslim leaders uncomfortable, there are many other words that could be used on prime-time television which would adequately condemn the bombers as individuals who had betrayed their society and their religion. I did not hear such condemnations in 2005.

Secondly, when 54 people had just been murdered, nobody in British society was in a mood to hear analysis. What they wanted to hear was condemnation, loud and clear. The time for analysis was another day. The failure of most Muslim leaders to understand that illustrates just how woeful was their understanding of the media and of British society more generally.

How anti-Muslim prejudice can be combatted most effectively

In my view the most effective way to combat anti-Muslim prejudice is to avoid getting into a situation where Muslims are seen as separate from the rest of society pleading a special “Muslim case.”

Instead, anti-Muslim prejudice needs combating, not just because it is bad for Muslims, but because it is bad for the health of our society as a whole. Prejudice directed against one part of the population soon becomes prejudice directed against other parts of the population.

This requires Muslims to be well-connected with all other parts of society that are their natural allies. For example it is ludicrous when Muslim groups allow themselves to have bad relations with Jewish groups as a result of different views about the Middle East when Jews have more experience of suffering persecution than any other group in British or European society.

Moreover effectively combatting anti-Muslim prejudice requires for Muslims to be more engaged in the political system. It is essential for Muslims to join and be active in all political parties, apart from those far right parties which are explicitly xenophobic.

The key message should be that Muslims seek no special rights as Muslims. What Muslims want are the same rights that all citizens are entitled to, and that any denial of these rights for anyone in society hurts every citizen.

While Muslims understandably regard their own religion as the best, when engaging in the political space, we need to forget that and concentrate on common messaging and common campaigning with all other groups which believe in equal citizenship. Furthermore Muslims need to remain vociferous in condemning bad behaviour by other Muslims, whether that bad behaviour occurs overseas or in Britain.

We Will Bury a Pig, (on the Site of the Dudley Mosque), says Paul Golding of Britain First

Dudley Mosque, Britain First

This video (from Team EBF – Exposing Britain First) highlights anti-Muslim rhetoric by far right extremist Paul Golding. Laughably, Golding attempts to ‘separate’ “local Dudley English people,” from Muslims which can be a dog whistle for racism as well as anti-Muslim hate since a majority of the people filmed outside the Dudley mosque in this video seem to be British Muslims of South Asian heritage.

Following on from Jayda Fransen’s vomitous rant that we reported in to West Midlands Police, true to form, Paul Golding follows in her steps as he reflects that if pork material is buried in the grounds of the Dudley mosque, the Quran (he says), states that the mosque cannot be built. Sheikh Golding has been up too many nights reading something, though clearly not the Quran.

Golding states that “we will do anything to stop this,” and “we will buy a pig unless the whole thing is scrapped.” Pigs beware we say, Golding is on the march and we expect some form of a fundraising internet campaign from Britain First to raise funds for the porcine material.

Golding goes onto say, “Worse case scenario is that we will find out where the mega mosque is and we will bury a pig in the ground.” Golding was followed on by his mumbling counterpart who repeated the same words as if in some kind of tantric trance.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the ‘patriots who aim to protect the nation.’ God help us all we say.

Katie Hopkins accused of making more anti-Muslim statements

The Hopkins Troll is a media personality enabled by our admiration, revulsion and curiosity to build a career on outrageous and offensive statements.

“People are outraged over Katie Hopkins vile #Palestinian comments stop being outraged, that’s what keeps her in media. Unfollow & ignore her,” wrote the journalist Sonia Poulton. Sensible advice but it misses a crucial point.

Ignoring her out of a sense of outrage overlooks those who agree with her sentiments. Others admire what the Hopkins Troll represents – an unfiltered voice who is granted a large media platform in the age of ‘PC gone mad’.

A snapshot of support is often found in Daily Mail reader comments or on Twitter (not the most reliable source but the Hopkins Troll operates in murky waters).

“Personally I can’t stand the woman but she has every right to express her opinions. I think that the vast majority of the ordinary British public (that excludes Guardians readers !!) would agree with her.”

“No comment, else I’ll also be arrested.”

Hopkins tweeted during an episode of Channel 4’s 24 Hours in Police Custody:

 “Father beats his daughter with an iron bar. But he is a good Muslim, prays in his cell & attends the mosque. So that’s all happy days then.”

“The police are singing from the same hymn sheet. Mohammed is going DAAAAAAAN. Allahu Akbar”.

The episode handled a complex case of ‘honour’ violence. But there is no honour in a father assaulting his daughter with an iron. In the episode, PC Esther Morris said: “It’s not a religious matter. No religion endorses honour violence.” Yet, that statement is missing from Hopkins’ Twitter feed. Hopkin’s inflammatory tone did find some support.

A representative of Luton Central Mosque spoke of the accused’s good character to the community cohesion team. But in the end, the suspect was convicted of ABH and sentenced to three years in prison (a sentence he is appealing). For the daughter, she fled Luton with her husband, disowned by her family.

24 Hours in Police Custody ensures the accused and victims of crime remain anonymous. Yet, by virtue of being a Muslim of Pakistani descent, Hopkins calls the convicted man Mohammed (without evidence).

During a stream of online criticism, Hopkins tweeted: “Allah doesn’t guide me. He is not a dog and I am not blind. I see that all religion is evil.” A statement that seems a little disingenuous in the context of previous statements.

On a similar note, she tweeted: “Nurun has left the building. Thank crap for that. The token headscarf wearer is no more,” after Nurun Ahmed was fired from The Apprentice on October 22 2014.

Rather than judging a person for the content of their character, the Hopkins Troll reduces the latter to what makes them different: religious identity. The same tactic is used when ridiculing a person’s weight.

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Anti-Muslim hate crimes, 2012-2014 in London: An Analysis of the Situation

On 1 October 2014, the BBC reported that anti-Muslim hate crime had increased 65% in London. This number is based on crime statistics over the last two financial years from the Metropolitan Police. The massive increase mostly accounts for the huge spike of anti-Muslim crimes following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich during the summer of 2013.

We decided to investigate this further and judge whether the proliferation of anti-Muslim attacks in the summer of 2013 was a temporary spike. To do this, we submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the Metropolitan Police requesting a detailed breakdown of every anti-Muslim hate crime from April 2012 to August 2014 by borough (which is available as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet). Looking at the data, we find an even more disturbing story, illustrated in the infographic below.

Before the Woolwich incident, from April 2012 to April 2013, there was an average of 28 anti-Muslim hate crimes per month. In April 2013, there were 22 anti-Muslim hate crimes in London, but in May (when Lee Rigby is murdered) that number soars to 109 crimes. As the infographic shows, this spike lasts until about July 2013. By August, it appears that anti-Muslim hate crime is back to a normal level.

However, if we measure anti-Muslim hate crimes from August 2013 to September 2014 the average number of hate crimes sits at 45 per month, a 60% rise compared to the average prior to the Woolwich incident, suggesting a long-term increase in the average level of anti-Muslim hate crimes in London.

By early 2014 Muslims are back on the front page, with the ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal in Birmingham framed as a ‘jihadist plot’ to take over schools. In the summer and early autumn, the Gaza-Israel conflict and ISIS are in the news, correlating with an increase in anti-Muslim attacks. In fact, some anecdotal evidence from Tell MAMA’s verbal abuse cases suggests that perceptions about ISIS motivate anti-Muslim hate nationally and in London. Coverage of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, twisted by the far-right into a ‘Muslim’ issue, further contributes to anti-Muslim discourse in late 2014.

The data from the Metropolitan Police shows that the spike in anti-Muslim attacks in the summer of 2013 led to a sustained increase in the base level of crimes into 2014. If we look at the last two years, we find that between October 2013 and September 2014, there is a 6.5% increase in the total number of anti-Muslim hate crimes over the previous year (October 2012 – September 2013). It is clear that anti-Muslim hate did not simply taper off and fall back to a low level after 2014. Instead, it got worse in 2014.

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