Response from the Prime Minister’s Office on anti-Muslim Hate

This is a letter received from the Office of the Prime Minister in response to our briefing on anti-Muslim hate which we sent through. The letter is a timely reminder of what binds us all in the United Kingdom.

“I am writing on behalf of the Prime Minister to thank you for your recent letter, regarding Islamophobia.

Freedom of speech and freedom of worship are important and hard-fought British liberties. People are free to practise any religion or non, wear whatever clothes they choose, set up and send their children to faith schools, build churches, temples and mosques and worship freely.

What makes this possible is the inclusive idea that everybody living in our country is equal and free to lead their lives as they see fit. But we have to respect other people’s right to do so too. That’s why we are confronting and challenging extremism in all its forms, tacking the violence and hatred that seeks to create divisions.

This, of course, must include tackling anti-Muslim hatred. As such, Government Ministers meet police chiefs to ensure they are supporting Imams and mosques. We also supported the establishment of MAMA – supporting your work to measure anti-Muslim attacks.

Conservatives will require the police to record anti-Muslim crimes as well as anti-Semitic crimes. We also exclude people from Britain whose presence would not be conducive to the common good. For example, in June 2013, the Home Secretary prevented Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer – the founders of an anti-Muslim hate campaign – from coming to speak at an EDL rally in Woolwich.

So thank you for your continued work in this issue. In Britain we have a free society, diverse communities and pluralistic values. Conservatives will always champion what unites our country across class, colour, creed, and will stand up and support British values. I do hope you find that reassuring – thank you, once again, for taking the trouble to write.”

Bigoted anti-Muslim Graphics Start to do the Rounds

The following is an example of the kind of graphic that is doing the rounds after the terrible terrorist bombings in Kuwait, Tunisia and France. With 15 British nationals killed in Tunisia, at a time when we should all be thinking of their families and how we can stand against together against those who seek to divide,  such material is being circulated.

The tenth anniversary of 7/7 is just round the corner. After 10 years, we need to renew our energies to tackle extremism and terrorism and those who seek to thrive off it by promoting their personal prejudices as if they are ‘rational’ or ‘valid’ views. They are not, they are the rantings of bigots and we need to call them out for what they are.

Let us all remember. Extremists do not care who they target. Yesterday they targeted our fellow citizens and on 7/7, they targeted Londoners, irrespective of their faith or beliefs. We have all had enough of the haters, it is time for us to unite and to stand together and in solidarity. #no2h8

'Bombathon' anti-Muslim graphic

Golding and Fransen Served with High Court Application for Injunction Banning them from Entering Mosques & Luton

Jayda FransenBritain First had threatened to demonstrate in Luton this Saturday, (27th of June),  on the same day as the community centred ‘Luton in Harmony’ event. However, the shrill on-line voices of Golding and Fransen can be heard as they bemoan an application made by the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire to the High Court regarding a proposed injunction against them.

Details of the injunction have come to light and the injunction is “to prohibit Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen for a period of 1 year from:

  1. Entering the town of Luton in Bedfordshire and its surrounding areas as indicated in the attached plan,
  2. Entering any mosque or Islamic cultural centre or its grounds within England and Wales without prior written invitation,
  3. Publishing, distributing or displaying, or causing to be published, distributed or displayed, any words or images, whether electronically or otherwise, which with regard to all of the circumstances, are likely to stir up religious and/or racial hatred,
  4. Using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour thereby causing harassment, alarm or distress to any person,
  5. That a power of arrest be attached to any of these.”

This is a pro-active and extremely welcome move by the Chief Constable for Bedfordshire coming hot on the heels of a meeting with Muslim communities in Luton who expressed real concern around the actions of Britain First on Saturday. Yet, what is also of significance, is the fact that Britain First cannot enter any mosque without prior written permission and their ‘mosque invasions’ may well be at an end. Also, what may be at an end could be the extremist and deeply anti-Muslim rhetoric that they have espoused and the injunction highlights that Golding and Fransen may well be arrested if they continue with such actions.

True to form, this duo of the fringe right have taken to ask for donations in order to pay for their ‘defence.’ Judging by past calls for finance, they may be looking at a couple of hundred pounds and offers of pints to console them.

We welcome and salute the actions of Bedfordshire Police and their Chief Constable. Such examples show clearly that authorities are willing to take action to maintain law and order in communities and to ensure that communities are not targeted for hate, intolerance and prejudice. Bravo!

Paul Golding

Member of staff at Bradford school under police investigation after allegedly sharing Britain First meme

A member of staff at a Bradford secondary school faces investigation from her employers and police after allegedly sharing an anti-Muslim Britain First meme.

Angie Dunn, a member of non-teaching support staff at Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College, is under a police investigation after bosses at the school reported the incident to police – who are also considering the possibility that her Facebook account was hacked.

Dunn allegedly shared a Britain First meme that invited users to register their ‘offence’ at the niqab.

A statement on Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College said: “It has come to our attention that an alleged issue involving a member of staff’s use of social media. We must stress this does not represent the views of Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College.

Prejudice and racism in any form is not acceptable in or out of our school and any such behaviour is taken very seriously. Our responsibility to pupils and parents is our top priority. Please be assured we will be conducting a formal investigation into the matter”.

On June 24, a letter sent to parents and carers said: “Prejudice and racism in any form is not acceptable in or out of our college and any such behaviour is taken very seriously. That is why the matter has been reported to the police for investigation as a hate crime”.

TELL MAMA – Our Relevance & Our Efficacy – Examples

We usually hear the following comments from detractors and those looking to utilise anti-Muslim hate to build support for their own polarised narratives in Muslim communities. They say that third party reporting centres are not effective, assuming that everyone reports in incidents to the police and that all people have the confidence to do so and that they know that they can report in hate incidents. If this perspective was simply built on this belief, we could forgive them for their naivety, though this ruse overlies another agenda which is about trying to win public opinion for their polarised narratives within Muslim communities.

TELL MAMA is non-partisan, non-religious third party national reporting service for anti-Muslim hate. Our efficacy and our ability to highlight and resolve issues can be demonstrated by these two examples over the last 2 days.

The first involved anti-Shia activity which was reported into us on Sunday morning. We highlighted these issues here and here. We understand that police were on site quickly and removed the anti-Shia graffiti and the issue was then highlighted in the local press here. Our intervention was clear, well organised and involved rallying local support, even before other organisations realised that there was an issue.

Furthermore, yesterday a member of the public informed us about cases involving the Stagecoach bus services in Oxford and we highlighted the issue here. This morning the Independent picked it up and ran the story. We also ensured that we contacted the leader of Oxford City Council, making him aware of our article and to which he speedily responded. Additionally, this afternoon we will be speaking to a local radio station in Oxford and our material has also been circulated to some local Oxford City councillors so that they are now aware of the issue.

These examples, two in just two days, show the impact that a pro-active and driven third party reporting service can have. To those who spin the ruse that people should not report to third party hate crime reporting services, well, the results above simply prove you and your perspectives wrong.

As MP’s Protest About Golders Green, Bonehill is Banned from Attending Demo

BonehillHampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq has been at the forefront of pushing an early day motion in Parliament praising campaigners against the proposed far right rally on July 4th in Golders Green. She also stressed that all should be done to protect local residents from the proposed neo-Nazi demonstration and urged that the Home Secretary do more to stop such demonstrations in the future, given the real fear that it may lead to anti-Semitic hate incidents.

The July 4th demonstration has been orchestrated by notorious self-styled far right ‘leader’ Joshua Bonehill. Yeovil based Joshua Bonehill, has had numerous run-ins with law enforcement leading to arrests for on-line comments and alleged malicious tweets to Labour Member of Parliament Luciana Berger. Bonehill also allegedly recently gifted a young woman with a Swastika, followed by a string of abusive messages, asking her to be his ‘Eva Braun.’ He has pleaded not guilty to charges on this.

It seems that Bonehill who was also behind an anti-Semitic rally in Stamford Hill, has been notified that he has banned from entering “the area contained within the M25 except to answer police bail.” Having been banned, it seems that Bonehill then passed the baton of organising the demonstration to another extreme far right activist, Eddie Stampton, who it seems, has now fallen out with Bonehill. Not seeing the writing on the wall, Bonehill has stated that he will continue to try and organise the Golders Green demonstration and that there will be further demonstrations in the future. Allied with these comments have been the usual far right anti-Semitic rhetoric which has espoused a victim narrative of an ‘anti-White’ conspiracy.

Finally, if you are looking to attend any counter-demonstration on the day, we would advise you to make contact with the Community Security Trust. Furthermore, activists from TELL MAMA will be active on the day to send a clear message that fascists, extremists and bigots are not wanted, nor do they reflect wider society. If anything, they will be in the minority surrounded by a sea of people who believe in pluralism, peace and the right for communities to live free from fear or intimidation.

Oxford Stagecoach Complaint Highlights Public Transport Complaints Around Anti-Muslim Sentiment

StagecoachOne of the areas where victims consistently raise concerns about is around public transport and over the last 3/4 months, we have had a number of cases that have come in where individuals have reported in anti-Muslim hate incidents on buses, trains, the underground and on public tram services.

Today’s example highlights an area where the perception of anti-Muslim hate can be strengthened. The response back from Stagecoach is to be commended and their honesty and transparency too. We will list their response later in this letter.

The text from the complainant highlights the Stagecoach Number 10 bus service which travels through Oxford and along the Cowley Road which is a diverse area within the city with a high population of British Muslims of Pakistani heritage. The complainant states:

“I was walking along Cowley Road when I witnessed a couple stood at the Plain bus stop opposite the Music shop, the couple incidentally were obviously Muslim and were waiting for a bus. Upon arrival the couple tried to flag the bus down but the driver despite seeing them completely ignored them and continued to drive on.

I was with a friend and we noted the number at the back of the bus which was 22768. This wasn’t a random event earlier in the day I witnessed the same number 10 stagecoach bus this time at The Slade being flagged down by a group of people, one of whom was clearly wearing a Hijab and clearly identifiable as a Muslim. The direction of the bus was towards Headington, and even here the bus driver ignored the passenger along with a couple
of others and deliberately chose to drive on. Unfortunately I was unable to get the number of the bus and in relation to timings this happened before midday.

This was a mere coincidence that I was able to witness these two very similar events and would like to see this looked into.

I have also copied the council as I feel that these type of events (there may be many more) are clearly in breach of equality laws and companies like stagecoach need to be held account for such discriminatory practices.

I hope that this is the last time I witness such incidents and that both the council and stagecoach work towards not only holding the driver to account for their behaviour but put in place preventative measures to ensure that this is not repeated again.

The response of the Stagecoach is also listed, confirming that they are baffled as to why the driver did not stop:

“22 June 2015

Dear Mr Akbar

I have been forwarded the details of your correspondence to our offices regarding the 10 service on Saturday 13 June. I regret that you have had cause to complain about the conduct of one of our drivers.

From the information you provided, the CCTV from the vehicle has been downloaded. Having viewed the footage, I can see the situations you described. I am at a loss to explain why the driver did not stop.

I completely understand how these incidents have been interpreted. I give you my assurances that matters of this nature are treated very seriously. We are an equal opportunities employer who ensures that all customers, employees or job applicants are treated fairly and equally.

I have made arrangements to formally interview the driver. He will be reminded of his responsibilities as a professional driver. We will discuss how he should keep a watchful eye out for intending passengers and stop where all passengers signal for the vehicle. We will review his conduct in line with the Company’s equal opportunities policy. It will be made clear to him that any unfair conduct will not be tolerated. This matter will be dealt with in the appropriate manner in line with the Company’s disciplinary procedure.

Once again, I apologise for the incidences. I trust that you are satisfied the matter is being dealt with appropriately.

Yours sincerely

Stagecoach in Oxfordshire
Horspath Road
Cowley
Oxford
OX4 2RY

We highlight the Possible Roots of anti-Shia Bigotry in Yorkshire

Yesterday, we were informed of a hate crime that took place against the Hussania Islamic Centre in Bradford. We have informed the police and it should be noted that the police and local councillors, like local Bradford Councillor Mohammed Shabbir, were quick to condemn such bigotry and co-ordinate local action to stand with the beleaguered Shia community.

We also received further information that anti-Shia activity has been taking place in the last year in Bradford and Leeds. For example, a year ago, the following leaflet was distributed in schools and local businesses in West Yorkshire. Some individuals who received the leaflet felt that it demonised Shia Islam and Shia Muslims in local communities.

Anti-Shia leaflet
A source that we have communicated with from the Shia community today stated the following:

“The situation got so bad that Shia students were being bullied in schools. We met with local schools and there was only minor action taken and there was an effort to try and be more viglant against such literature and as time went on, things just quietened down. Now we have an attack on this mosque.”

The contact also stated that about two years ago, anti-Shia texts and Whatsapp messages were being circulated. They read as:

“++KINDLY READ PASS TO ALL YOUR CONTACTS++ as’saalamu’alaikum to all sunni brothers\sisters in Islam please avoid eating at these 2 shia takeaway in Bradford both are owned by shias who are supporters of hezbollah and bashar assad do not give support to those who are killing sunni Muslims in syria.”

We were informed that the message above was circulated with the address details of the Shia owned restaurants and recipients were encouraged to pass on the messages. They were, in effect, suggesting a boycott of Shia owned businesses.

We within TELL MAMA will do whatever we can to highlight, log and ensure that where possible, prosecutions can be brought with the police in relation to such incidents as that which took place against the Hussania mosque. Also, if you receive such material in the future, please do not hesitate to pass it onto us and you can e-mail us on info@tellmamauk.org, Tweet us @tellmamauk or text message us on 0115 707 0007. You can also call us on 0800 456 1226.

Shia Centre Targeted in Bradford in anti-Muslim Hate Incident

We were notified within the last hour of a Shia Centre in Bradford that has been targeted for anti-Muslim hate. The incident took place today and the statement that was tagged onto the walls of the Shia Islamic centre said, ‘Shia Kafir.’

The graffiti suggests that the Shia are unbelievers and such rhetoric is worrying, given that it forms the bedrock of thinking that drives extreme groups. For this statement to have been painted on the walls of a City like Bradford, is even more worrying, given that the City is one that generally is cohesive and where such incidents do not take place.

The targeting of this Shia Centre is also classed as an anti-Muslim hate incident and we have logged and recorded it as such. We will be keeping an eye on the developing situation, though we call on all individuals to reject and publicly speak out against the targeting of the Shia community. Furthermore, we hope that when this perpetrator is caught, that he will be charged with a religiously aggravated offence and we within TELL MAMA will be happy to speak to the court and support such a charge.

National Express Incident Leads Us to Investigate Further

National ExpressThe following article was posted today on Religious Reader highlighting alleged racism and anti-Muslim bigotry that had been targeted at a group of four visible Muslim women who used the services of National Express on the 14th of June. They were looking to travel from Manchester to Leeds.

We have found out that within the 060/061 coach from Manchester to Leeds, (via Bradford), there are the letters SEL that are stamped within the coaches and this stands for Selwyn’s Travel. This is an operator which bids for contracts from National Express to run coaches for them.

Selwyn’s are one of the UK’s largest coach operators and operate over 70 coaches for National Express. They are owned by a multinational transport company called RATP-Dev, the French State owned bus and train operator. RATP also own the Manchester tram system.

In 2012, RATP banned three posters to counter anti-Muslim hate or Islamophobia that had been developed by the French organisation, Collectif Contre L’Islamophobie en France, (CCIF).

Finally, Faith Matters received the following response from National Express when they highlighted the Religious Reader piece. Let us hope that National Express contact Selwyn’s and find out the driver responsible for the alleged hate incident.