Lincolnshire Police are investigating claims that a supporter of the English Defence League (EDL) vandalised the site of a proposed mosque with offensive posters.
At 9:03pm on March 17, Paul Whiteside uploaded an image to his Facebook outside of the proposed site. Two of the posters made reference to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. The other poster read ‘No More Mosques’. Whiteside captioned the photo ‘Licolnite mosque lol’.
One poster parodied the Daily Mirror’s front page headlined ‘Horrific betrayal of 1,400 children,’ published on August 27, 2014. The crude edits morphed the front page into the ‘Daily EDL’. Its subheading read ‘Don’t let it happen in Lincoln’.
DAILY MIRROR FRONT PAGE: "Horrific betrayal of 1,400 children" #skypapers pic.twitter.com/4VXWuqKZ67
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 26, 2014
The front page gave weight to the idea of a culture of ‘political correctness’ shielding criminals. This, however, did not tell the whole story.
For people like Paul Whiteside, these complexities do not matter. He’s already found the justification in his own beliefs. Whiteside posted, “The reason behind the posters on the gates of the mosque is a protest against all the mosques being built in britain”.
He went on to claim that, “Grooming gangs like Rotherham all stem from mosques, are you telling me that the information about the girls wasn’t passed around at the mosque but no-one at the mosque was willing to notify the police”.
Whiteside told the Lincolnite that: “The media aren’t telling you what’s really going off, grooming gangs all over the UK, terrorists storing weapons in mosques all over Europe.”
On Facebook, he speculates that the ‘influx of Muslim refugees’ will create more problems. He offers no evidence for it. But that’s not the point. He has his own online echo chamber – which contains conspiracy and hate websites. This crossover of conspiracy theory and hate sites fits Barkun’s theory of ‘stigmatized knowledge‘. In short, ‘stigmatized knowledge’ allows individuals to present information that mainstream institutions have not validated as ‘true’.
A self-confessed Trump supporter, he rejects political correctness and admires Nick Griffin. Anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Pamela Geller also appears in his Facebook ‘likes’.
A hatred of refugees and Muslims underpins much of his online rhetoric. In response to an article on Syrian refugees he wrote, “You are wanting to flood England with muslims and their ideology that as no place in the west,do you really want our beautiful home to end up like Sweden”.
Whiteside had attended a far-right demonstration in Dover on January 30. An event which brought together the National Front, North West Infidels, National Action, Misanthropic Division, British Movement and Scottish Defence League.
Tanweer Ahmed, the chairman of the Islamic Association, praised community cohesion at the expense of division.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 101 or contact Inspector Suzanne Davies, Community Policing Inspector for Lincoln South West Policing area directly.