We Must Act Together Against Those Who Seek to Divide, Says Gerry Gable of Searchlight Magazine

English Defence LeagueThe revelations of child abuse by gangs of mostly Muslim men in Rotherham together with the rise of the Islamic State (Isis) terrorists have severely tested relations between British Muslims and the rest of the British population. Islamophobes of the far right and some others who should know better have encouraged the falsehood that these crimes arise from Islam itself, rather than from the same evils that lie behind such acts committed by anyone else.

Britain has had an ingrained paedophilia problem since at least Victorian times. As one leading expert stated in a Newsnight interview, this is not just a problem of some Muslims of Pakistani heritage. The fact is that there is not a hamlet, village, town or city in this country that does not have a problem with paedophilia. Continuing disclosures about various celebrities, politicians, teachers and others are witness to this. And the failure of the authorities to act for many years is a stain on the police, local authorities, Home Office and all political parties.

But notwithstanding all that, the Muslim community too must tackle head-on those instances of paedophilia that occur within it.

The English Defence League, Britain First and the other tiny groups of racists have tried to exploit the Rotherham scandal, but over the years dozens of extreme-right activists have been convicted of violent and sexual crimes against children. In our study of the terrorist far right in Britain, Lone Wolves: Myth or Reality, we found that people who were making bombs to attack mosques and other community buildings were also abusing children in some way or another.

When Stephen Lennon, the former leader of the EDL, was adopted by the publicity seeking Quilliam Foundation, he went on about how he cared for his family. He did not mention, and nor did they, that he had been sent to prison for a violent attack on an off-duty police officer who had tried to stop Lennon beating his partner. Most of these thugs have no moral compass whatsoever.

Currently Government is panicking over the threat posed by returning British Isis fighters who may have taken part in mass killings, torture, rape and the selling into sexual slavery of women prisoners, the crucifixion of Christians and the destruction of places of worship including Muslim ones. But we want to know what is going to happen to those brave young Muslim men and some women who travelled to Syria to oppose the barbaric regime of the Syrian dictator Assad.

During the Spanish Civil War from 1936-39, Britain opposed intervention, which left the democratically elected republican government to bleed to death, while Hitler and Mussolini armed General Franco, the Fascist aggressor against a lightly armed legitimate government. Tens of thousands of men and women from dozens of countries volunteered and became part of the heroic anti-fascist International Brigade.

The British Government banned these volunteers from travelling to Spain and many were held in Fascist concentration camps when the Republic fell. They received an enormous welcome on their return home and many joined the British Army.

What will happen on the return of those who have fought with enormous courage against Assad and Isis? Will they be treated as potential terrorists, like the Isis supporters? In fact these people have the potential to show positive leadership to young Muslims.

I have no problem with the security services detaining returning Isis fighters if they have killed, tortured and raped, provided there is evidence and proper court process, rather than a witch-hunt by the right-wing media who have far too much influence on the present government.

If common sense had prevailed and the blind hatred of the USA by some on the left could have been suspended when Parliament voted against military intervention in Syria last year, tens of thousands of people might still be alive and not living in desert camps thousands of miles from home. In a recent editorial I wondered how many of these misguided MPs and marchers get a good night’s sleep, with over a quarter of a million dead in Syria and millions displaced across the region.

But the Home Secretary does not have only Islamist potential terrorists in her sights. Theresa May has also promised to pursue Nazis. The problem is that the Home Office and counter-terrorist police have little concept of where on the far right the real danger lies. One spokesperson recently referred to Combat 18 (C18), a group that no longer exists in the UK, never actually had members and, according to Searchlight and a World In Action TV documentary, was a honey trap set up by MI5. During C18’s reign of terror people were beaten, shops firebombed and riots sparked at football matches. C18’s unrestrained operations inspired people such as David Copeland, the London bomber who directed his attacks at the black, Muslim and gay communities in London in spring 1999 before he was caught.

Power on the extreme right in Europe and beyond has shifted. Our investigations have revealed the links internationally between far-right groups, often well-financed, some of which are backed by Putin’s Russia, Assad’s Syria and the Iranian regime.

The Muslim community, the good, the indifferent and the ugly, will all come under fire if we allow religious and race haters to thrive.

Gerry Gable MA (Crim) DUniv,
Editor/Publisher Searchlight magazine, now in its 51st year

Pig’s Head Left Outside Proposed Islamic Centre in Chester in Anti-Muslim Hate Incident

A man was arrested on suspicion of committing a racially aggravated public order offence after a pig’s head was left outside a proposed Islamic Centre in Chester.

The anti-Muslim incident took place on October 22 after a member of the pubic contacted the police to report suspicious behaviour outside the property. A swift police response lead to the arrest of a 41-year-old male in the early hours of today (October 23).

In early September, the Islamic Centre was approved by councillors. But some residents could not hide their disgust that an old church and abandoned Unemployment and Culture Centre will be replaced with a building that will “devalue the whole area”.

In spite of the approval, the Islamic Centre will take two years to build, but two racist attacks in three months hint a deeper malaise in the area. In August, a racist drunk decorated children’s bunting with swastikas and KKK symbols and hung it outside the proposed site.

Giles Orton, Chief Inspector, told the Chester Chronicle: “Local residents can be reassured that the police have a high visibility presence in the area.

“Through firm policing we will put an end to racially aggravated incidents in Ellesmere Port.

“Hate crimes are not tolerated within this community.”

Police and community leaders were unable to comment on the racist Facebook page ‘Ban Ellesmere Port mosque’ – a page with almost 600 ‘likes’ that wants to “stop Muslims taking over Ellesmere Port and keeping Britain British” – due to ongoing enquiries. Nor could they confirm if the pig’s head attack is linked to the page.

The page contains the usual anti-Muslim memes – a fixation with pork, banning Islam and a deeply unpleasant ‘joke’ that depicts arson – the caption reads “I threw my new Muslim neighbours a house-warming party The police called it arson…whatever”.

In late September, a 36-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of posting racist comments relating to the proposed Islamic Centre. But the individual was released without charge.

At an online and offline level, the rise in anti-Muslim incidents in the area of Ellesmere Port is alarming.

Anyone who may have seen anything suspicious is asked to contact Cheshire police on 101.

Ellesmere mosque

Ellesmere mosque 2

Ellesmere mosque3

Robb Leech’s Documentary, ‘My Brother, the Terrorist,’ Highlights Anti-Muslim Hate Received by Mosques

Richard DartThe excellent documentary by Robb Leech on the radicalisation and the imprisoning of his brother, Richard Dart, highlights a range of issues that have been picked up within this article, produced by Faith Matters.

A section in the documentary focused on the actions of the East London mosque and how members of Anjem Choudhary’s group sometimes entered the mosque and fomented and agitated within it.

The Communications Officer, Salman, was shown in the documentary highlighting how mosque worshippers chased away supporters of Anjem Choudhary and how the mosque effectively policed itself against people promoting hate and extremism. These actions, Salman stated, were rarely picked up in the headlines around the East London mosque which had painted the mosque in a negative light, whilst not reporting on these positive steps against extremism.

Salman also went on to highlight the link between Anjem Choudhary, press headlines and anti-Muslim hate material which the mosque received. Salman mentioned that when there were press headlines around Muslims or around Anjem Choudhary, the mosque received hate mail and some examples were shown in the documentary. It seems that receipt of hate mail was not a new occurrence and that the mosque employees, sadly, had grown accustomed to it. Additionally, Salman also mentioned that he believed some press journalists ‘had a speed dial’ button to Anjem Choudhary and when they wanted an inflammatory quote, it was him that they called.

Robb Leech’s documentary is a depressing insight into how the vulnerabilities of young men are abused. The documentary also re-enforces the fact that young men need support mechanisms in place around them if they are to have a future free from manipulation by charismatic individuals. Sadly, history tells us that such groups and causes, may not be the last.

Neo-Nazi Who Abused Luciana Berger MP, an Ardent Antisemite and Anti-Muslim Bigot

A neo-Nazi jailed after posting a grotesque anti-Semitic tweet to Luciana Berger MP used his Twitter account to spread white supremacist propaganda.

Garonn Helm, 21, was sentenced to four weeks in prison after his tweet to Ms Berger juxtaposed a Holocaust-era star on the MP’s head with the hashtag “Hiter was right”. Helm labelled Ms Berger a “communist Jewess” and then tweeted at her, “You can always trust a Jew to show their true colours eventually.”

Helm was born into a large family that broke apart upon the death of his father – he then retreated into the online world and found a platform for his toxic racist beliefs – whether his beliefs came naturally or where a product of online radicalisation remains to be seen. Yet, Helm’s links to the neo-Nazi group National Action exist in the offline and online world.

National Action operate on the fringes but like other far-right groups exploited the horrific abuse in Rotherham.

Helm retreated into a belief that non-white individuals, Muslims and Jews are existential threats. So extreme in his beliefs, he described the English Defence League as “Jew loving piss-heads”.

National Action deliberately target university campuses and a photo posted on September 9 features members of the group throwing Nazi salutes at the University of Leeds.

The leaders of the group speak in the language of violence and foster a siege mentality against cultural Marxism and multiculturalism.

On August 31, Helm tweeted, #Islam is a cancer, #WOTAN is the answer.” Wotan (Odin) is one of the principle Gods of Norse mythology. Helm’s Twitter name ‘‘Aethelwulf’ translates from Old English as ‘Noble Wolf’.

Other rambling tweets included, “The #Jew will never understand the connection we have with our land, for they have no land of their own. They are genocidal bandits.”

Muslim dogs starting #Sharia patrols in Germany? Get out and smash those child-raping savages, lads!”

In early September, Helm claimed his affiliation to National Action was behind his expulsion from college (but this remains a speculative claim).

A police raid on his property revealed a collection of Nazi memorabilia. In court, Helm’s actions were described as “calculated” and “deeply upsetting”.

The extreme tweets are a window into the mind of an individual who is rightfully in prison for his vitriol. But the concern is whether or not the activities will continue or escalate upon release. Muslim and Jewish communities must be vigilant against this new wave of neo-Nazism.

Luciana Berger 1
Luciana Berger 2
Luciana Berger 3

Britain First Supporters Shout ‘Roma Gypsy – Off Our Streets’ in South Yorks

This video has emerged highlighting statements made by Britain First supporters in Hexthorpe, South Yorkshire, during a demonstration by this extremist far right group. The video, shot from a mobile phone, shows how Britain First supporters turn on the local Roma community and where a repost to their prejudice can be heard where someone shouts out, “we are home“. Seemingly, this is something that Britain First supporters cannot get their head around.

What is particularly of concern is the rhetoric used in the intimidating march in Hexthorpe. Chants of ‘Roma Gypsy – off our streets‘ are repetitively made and which if made against other communities, would probably have seen a more robust response from local police officers, who seem to stand by and let the demonstration and statements continue.

Such statements are not only clearly discriminatory, they are intimidating, menacing and threatening. Targeting the Roma community in Hexthorpe with such intimidating statements should not be tolerated and what exactly do Britain First supporters mean by suggesting that Roma community members should be ‘off our streets’? Do they mean ejecting people, intimidating them or generally driving them away?

We would not accept such talk about other communities. This should also be the same when the Roma community are targeted.

(We would like to thank @edlnews for bringing this to our attention)

We Welcome Stronger Laws Against Social Media Trolling Through the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill

Social Media TrollingWe believe that free speech means that there are times when groups of people may be challenged or affected by comments that are made by individuals. For example, there are those who actively challenge religious views whether they be Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim or Sikh. We acknowledge that these discussions also depend on the context of the person making them and that dissent is fundamental to a free and democratic society.

What we are concerned about are those who seek to target individuals on-line, to harass, abuse or denigrate them because of a part of their identity, or when they seek to humiliate and harass them knowing that their actions will have negative impacts on the victim. With this in mind, we have developed material for members of the public on this area and we thank Dr Imran Awan for his direction and leadership in this area of work.

We therefore warmly welcome the proposals put forward by Chris Grayling which have been reported in the media. We have also called for better training for police forces on issues such as harassment which have been highlighted and which have blighted the lives of many people who have reported into us through the TELL MAMA project.

Also of importance is a proposed rise in the statute of limitations around time limits for acting on cases. This is an area that has affected some of our cases where action could not be taken since incident timescales crossed over the 6 month cut-off period. We welcome proposals that the period should be extended to 3 years and that incidents/crimes that take place within a 3 year period can be reported in and acted upon by law enforcement agencies.

The new proposals also raise sentencing for trolling and harassment from 6 months to 2 years. Again, we welcome these actions given the impacts on victims and the fear, anxiety and depression that they have caused in some people. In particular, we have worked with individuals who have had mental health difficulties and who have been unable to cope with repeated trolling and harassment. Such actions can lead to terrible impacts on people’s lives and we therefore welcome the proposed quadrupling in sentencing.

Additionally, these proposals if approved and extended into the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill will also mean that the Social Media Guidelines produced by the Crown Prosecution Service on prosecuting social media cases will have to change. The guidelines were released in mid 2013 and will need to be revised again, showing the speed of change and developments caused by social media platforms.

Lastly, we would like to make a plea to the Government. It seems that changes are proposed when well-known celebrities or personalities are affected by social media trolling. We would like to stress that projects like TELL MAMA have been working with people at a grass-roots level who have suffered such issues for years, though who have never had the chance for their cases to be highlighted through press sources. We therefore want to stress that policy should not be drafted on the back of celebrity cases but on the back of regular consultations with hate crime reporting organisations who are picking up such issues in real-time and at a grass-roots level. Nonetheless, these proposals are welcomed and much needed.

Liberty GB’s Facebook Page Shows Why Far Right Groups Are So Open to Being Parodied

We have previously written articles on Liberty GB, a far right group that is led by Paul Weston, and further details on the group can be found here and here. Further details on Paul Weston can also be found here.

What is particularly striking about this group is the level of ignorance and the bizarre nature of their promotional material which tickles the senses much like watching the relationship between Inspector Clouseau and Cato as they played off each other in hilarious scenes in Pink Panther movies. Reading material on the web-site and Facebook page of Liberty GB leaves a reader in no doubt that either the far right have lost the plot or they generally accommodate a space somewhere between Mars and Pluto. They are simply are ‘lost in space.’

Take for example, a recent graphic campaign that Liberty GB promoted on their Facebook page. Entitled ‘Muslims don’t like British Culture,’ the graphics reduce British culture to a handful of elements which include dogs (yes, pass the cuddly toy), a pint of beer and weddings. They host a picture of a dog, a pint of beer and weddings hinting that these are essentially what make up British culture and whilst no-one can deny that a pint of beer and love for dogs are part of the culture of this country, they are not unique to Great Britain. Many European countries drink beer, (albeit not drinking in pints) and residents of many European countries like animals and some citizens choose to get married. It seems that Liberty GB have reduced what it means to be British into a perspective that is not only reductionist in its outlook, it also tries to promote views and perceptions of Muslims that are farcical, banal and ridiculous to say the least.

Take for example, the snapshot of the married couple below and a quote that Liberty GB put up. Quotes are put up which also seem to reduce the Quran and followers of Islam to individuals who are the ‘other’ and somewhat ‘alien’ to this country, even though most Muslims in the UK have been born in the UK and have lived all of their lives in this country.

Also, what is missing from the discussion is the gamete of thoughts, theological positions and edicts that place polygamy into a space where there are multiple responsibilities on the male and which also mean that in the modern world, many of these responsibilities are difficult to fulfill.  Many leading Islamic theologians also take the position that polygamy is not a default automatic position, but hey, what are facts to supporters of Paul Weston and his farcical group.

Or take the fact that they quote some verse talking about intoxicants, thereby implying that if Muslims ‘take over’ (they really are fixated on the ‘creeping Shariah’ extremist narrative), there will be no booze. The last time we were out working with Muslim communities, worries about beer, the size of pints, alcohol and intoxicants were far from the minds of people.

Anyone Follow the Made Up Gobbledigook of Liberty GB?

However, one of the best examples of how bizarre and ludicrous this group is can be seen in the graphic below with a lovely looking canine. They list a statement which is probably taken from the bag of a ‘fag-packet,’ scrawled down in a beer induced haze and the reference that they post up with it reads, ‘Muslim Book 10, number 3811.’ We had sought help in tracking down ‘Muslim Book 10, number 3811,’ though we have singularly failed in finding this edition of the Liberty GB guide in what it means to be a Muslim.

This whole scenario reminds us of the film the Infidel, in which the great Omid Djalili speaks about how some young Muslims can get sucked into thinking that people who look religious and who speak Arabic, somehow know Islam the best and what they say may be true. The statement Omid uses cannot be repeated here but the same is also true in relation to groups like Liberty GB. Apart from making things up as they go along, they play to an audience who are potentially fearful of Muslims and who are looking to pin the problems that they have within their lives, as being the fault of others. Throw in narratives, however bizarre they may be, about Muslims and you have an audience who believe that what groups like Liberty GB state, must be true. It truly feels like the clueless leading those who need to widen their horizons in life.

The starting strapline on the Liberty GB Facebook page states,“The party you’ve been waiting for.’ If this is the party we have been waiting for, God help us all!

Liberty GB Liberty GB dogs
Liberty GB marriage

Weekend Digest of Anti-Muslim Activities in the UK, Week Ending 12th October 2014

PORTSMOUTH

The weekend proved no respite for Muslims in Portsmouth as a small protest aimed to exploit the fault lines of community tension.

Around 20 people, which included supporters of the far-right English Defence League (EDL), marched against the proposed Madani Academy faith school.

Amid angry chants of “You’re not English,” some held up English flags with a range of slogans written upon them, including the EDL’s ‘No Surrender’.

Protesters were angry at the alleged ‘Muslim-only’ academy as others made a crass link to ISIS by virtue of faith.

But the exclusionary nature of academy was denied by its director, Luthfur Rahman, in an interview with local press, “It is wrong to say that The Madani Academy is a Muslim-only school.

In common with other faith schools in England, we are an inclusive school and welcome children from all backgrounds and abilities as clearly stated in our admissions policy.”

A peaceful march was marred by members of the far-right throwing coins at counter-protesters. Other community figures condemned the divisive and unrepresentative nature of the march.

The Madani Academy was also a target for hate last December when a pig’s head was left on a spike outside the school.

 BIRMINGHAM

The English Defence League (EDL) took to the streets of Birmingham on Saturday but avoided the violent scenes of last year.

A predicted turnout of 750 failed to materialise. But it did not stop the EDL from making a long list of demands to justify their march – it ranged from the Trojan horse scandal, ‘Muslim-only’ cemeteries, Rotherham, and ‘illegal’ immigration.

The incoherent message still resonates in the online world but at a street-based level is stalling. Yet, a strain is felt financially on policing and communities as a whole.

As ever, the counter protest brought hundreds of activists together. Police only made ten arrests as rival groups clashed.

Nor did the protest have a detrimental impact upon local business according to Broad Street boss Mike Olley, who praised the police and other organisations, when speaking to local press.

Funding of Hate Crime Work Also Means Promoting Universal Human Rights Values

Entryism

We still see the case where an idea spawns in some part of the country on the back of our work on anti-Muslim bigotry over the last 2 years. Much of our work has shown that visible Muslim women at a street level suffer anti-Muslim bigotry and this has spurred some groups and individuals into coming together to access funding.

Many have little understanding about how to document anti-Muslim bigotry, the risks involved in getting it wrong and how to ensure that on-line and off-line work is segmented. Some also have no understanding in how to tackle internal forms of anti-Muslim bigotry, such as intolerance openly targeted at the Ahmadi community and who simply skirt over the issue in order to say that they have delivered their project and to ensure that boxes are ticked.

Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge that people want to create change for the better whilst looking to tackle anti-Muslim bigotry. This is important work since anti-Muslim bigotry has been allowed to fester through civil society inaction and through press and political statements made at various points in the last few years.

However, what we are also seeing is that Police and Crime Commissioners who are looking for solutions to some of these problems at a local level are being lobbied by groups who will talk about tackling anti-Muslim bigotry, but who will have affiliates or members who hold views that are deeply homophobic or antisemitic and in some instances, will voice them publicly.

Playing Politics With Those Who Do Not Believe in Real Equality

Or take the issue of umbrella bodies or ‘affiliates’ which some groups will use to lever themselves into political positions with a Police and Crime Commissioner or with a local Community Safety Councillor. The use of the term localism and ‘affiliates’ means that they are usually able to press the buttons of local politicians, yet politicians must wake up and wake up fast to the fact that public funds must not be used to fund groups that have no desire in standing firm against hate and intolerance against other communities, yet who believe that they can work on anti-Muslim hate.

We acknowledge that bigotry in various forms sadly is part of human nature and that all of us must tackle it through education or by highlighting it where appropriate. This means that all communities suffer from it and within religious conservative circles, there is a higher chance that issues such as gender equality or LGBTQ rights will not be seen as rights, but as privileges that are made by people and which go against ‘God’s Laws,’ according to some in these conservative circles. Within some sections of Muslim communities this is no different and should not be used by bigots to target Muslim communities with as if it unique to them. What is of relevance though, is that access to public funding means responsibilities and this means that groups accessing it to counter hate crimes or anti-Muslim bigotry must also tackle internal forms of intolerance within the relevant communities they work within.

There is simply no point in playing politics on such matters, nor should Police and Crime Commissioners automatically assume that funding such programmes means that they can be seen to be pro-active in these areas. The use of such funding for political favour would be a slap in the face of taxpayers of this country who would want to know that if such funds were granted, they would be used for specific work purposes which would also tackle intra-community intolerance where it takes place.

Sadly, we believe that some of the groups looking to do such work by accessing Police and Crime Commissioner funds would not speak, raise, rebut or challenge internal issues of LGBTQ hate or even antisemitism. Public funding of such groups cannot be allowed to happen and this is why we are suggesting that all forms of public funding agreements stipulate that public funding, where it is to be used for hate crime work, must also ensure that intra-community intolerance is appropriately challenged and countered. Keeping quiet for the sake of keeping on board ‘affiliates’ is not a way of countering bigotry, it is a means of self-protection at a cost to cohesion in our society and this is unforgivable.

Senior Citizen Somali Muslim Woman Attacked in North London in Anti-Muslim Incident

Working on the area of anti-Muslim hate incidents and crimes, there are cases that are particularly troubling and one of these was reported into us today.

It involved a 67-year-old Hijab wearing Somali Muslim woman who was attacked as she got off a bus in North London. The attacker, a white male, then tried to punch her in the face, though thankfully, the force of the attack glanced off the face of the woman as she moved her head to get away from the force of the blow. The perpetrator had been waiting for the bus and seeing the Somali senior citizen step off the vehicle, he diverted his attention to her.

The victim then crossed over the road as the perpetrator followed her and shocked and frightened, she continued to walk away from the male who was by now shouting, “f**king Muslim bitch.”

What makes this case even more shocking is that the Somali woman could not speak English, suffered an assault to her head and was a senior citizen just going about her daily duties. Also, in the course of this attack, she appealed to a passing member of the public who intervened and the perpetrator subsequently ran off. This good Samaritan, probably saved her from further injuries and further possible trauma.