Akeela Ahmed has worked for many years in the community sector and currently also sits on the Cross Government Advisory Group to tackle Anti-Muslim hatred.
The Advisory group meets with ministers and advises and informs them of key areas and issues where anti-Muslim bigotry affects Muslim communities and is part of the Government’s strategy to reach out to and ensure that all communities feel safe within our country.
On the 6th of January 2016, Mrs Ahmed simply tweeted out that she has been on a school run to pick up her 11-year-old daughter and stopped to wait at a junction with a car in front of her. This vehicle’s driver, it seems, was abusive towards Mrs Ahmed and subsequent tweets stated that she did not aggravate the driver and that she has previously suffered such intimidating incidents without any provocation.
Mrs Ahmed simply reported to us, (as a national third-party reporting project), the fact that she perceived this incident to be anti-Muslim in nature since she is visibly Muslim. She also stated that she did not do anything to provoke the individual concerned. In fact, this is one of the reason’s why third-party reporting centres were set up after the Macpherson report of 1999. They were set up so that members of the public could report in hate incidents or hate crimes based on their perception of the incident. These reports would then be sent to the police who would either crime the report for action or place it as some form of intelligence so that if anything occurred in the future, there was a trace of the initial complaint.
Having received the tweets from Ms Ahmed, we ensured that we contacted her to find out more about what had happened and to re-assure her that we would be in touch with the police on the matter so that they could be in touch with her. For those who are not aware, this is one of the roles of a third-party national hate crime reporting project like Tell MAMA. Ensuring public confidence in the system to ensure justice for the victim is key. This means contacting victims to corroborate a version of events with any evidence available.
So what could possibly go wrong when a victim of perceived anti-Muslim prejudice reported into a national project, set up to support victims of anti-Muslim prejudice?
Well, along came Anne-Marie Waters, Chairwoman of ‘Sharia Watch’ and one of the self-appointed leaders of Pegida UK. Having imposed herself into the conversation, she suggested that those reporting hate incidents into third-party reporting projects, should not be ‘using up police time.’ This after she decided to include references to grooming and sexual abuse, making the bigoted link between innocent law-abiding Muslims and others who had been involved in grooming activities. The rage of Anne-Marie Waters though, did not last very long according to her tweets, yet they generated a barrage of hateful tweets to the victim thereafter.
Every day, tens of hate incident reports go into third-party hate crime organisations and agencies. Some of these reports lead to arrests and some provide strong intelligence to stop future crimes that could lead to more serious assaults. Such projects therefore provide confidence and support for victims.
Not according to Anne-Marie Waters, who decided that she knew better and in the process, spiralled the conversation into a blame game with the victim being targeted by someone who may know very little about the experiences of black and minority ethnic women and the racism, prejudice and bigotry that some have faced.
We have listed the threads of conversations below and these are just a snapshot of the abusive messages that Ms Ahmed received over a 48 hour period with a sustained and co-ordinated campaign to abuse and intimidate her.
So I was on the school run picking up my 11yo daughter from primary school. I drive up to top of road, stop to wait behind car in front ->
— Akeela Ahmed (@AkeelaAhmed) January 6, 2016
— Anne Marie Waters (@AMDWaters) January 13, 2016
— Akeela Ahmed (@AkeelaAhmed) January 13, 2016
— Anne Marie Waters (@AMDWaters) January 13, 2016
To further whip up a storm, self styled ‘New Era’ Tommy Robinson joined in to agitate with the folowing tweet that further inflamed the situation. Given the abuse that Ms Ahmed was now receiving, this tweet exacerbated the volume and intensity of the abuse that she received and which was also directed at us.
The tweets below are just a snapshot of the hundreds of tweets that were directed at the victim.
— 「hurricane⚡matthew」 (@Hitoshura) January 14, 2016
— matt nicholls (52%) (@shoutinghorse) January 14, 2016
— The One Zane (@TheLexZane) January 14, 2016
— Richard Hollywood (@MrDickHollywood) January 13, 2016
— Deus Vult Deports (@IvanJakoff) January 13, 2016
— deplorable Kathleen (@kmcccomcastnet) January 13, 2016
— natalia yusupova (@nataliayusupova) January 13, 2016
— beach boy (@666_mrnubs) January 13, 2016
— Gabi.ai/Sir WotNot (@w0tn0t) January 13, 2016
— 🐸gab.ai/fifi_j (@fifi_j) January 13, 2016