We have just been informed by Muhbeen Hussain, the Founder & Chairperson of British Muslim Youth, of a series of racial and anti-Muslim incidents in Rotherham clearly linked to the grooming crisis that has hit the town.

Within TELL MAMA, we have seen an increase in reporting directly related to anti-Muslim prejudice, rhetoric and threats associated with Rotherham and community information from individuals like Muhbeen are confirming hate incidents that can have a real impact on future community relations. Allied to this, far right and extremist groups have called for a demonstration in Rotherham on Saturday the 13th of September. This is the last thing the residents of Rotherham need, extremist groups ramping up rhetoric and tensions.

We have been informed of an incident this evening where a taxi driver of Pakistani heritage was harassed in his vehicle by a group of young white males who knocked on the windows of the vehicle shouting “groomers” and making abusive remarks against the Quran and to people of Pakistani heritage. The incident continued for some time and Muhbeen got to the scene as police were called.

Muhbeen has also described 4 separate incidents where he personally has been subjected to racist and anti-Muslim rhetoric and where on one occasion, whilst he was undertaking a radio interview. The interview was being carried out on a street side corner and as the interview took place, a passenger in a vehicle shouted out “Muslim groomer,” as the car sped off. This also took place in a garage as Muhbeen was filling up with petrol and in 2 other incidents at a street level. In all 4 incidents, the term “groomer” was used and this against a young law-abiding and socially active young person working for better community relations in the area.

He has also mentioned that a taxi firm that he knows, has been receiving calls from people asking for taxis and stating that the firm “should not send groomers.” In other words, the inference made was that the firm should not send taxi drivers of Pakistani heritage.

There is a real concern that relations in the city may well be affected in the short-term by the grooming scandal and may well be affected in the medium and long-term. This is why we call on media, bloggers and others to be responsible and to report on issues without inflaming tensions in the town. Victims of the grooming scandal need justice. They need to be heard, but let us also be clear. Labeling and abusing people of Pakistani and Muslim backgrounds as being suspect or potential groomers does a dis-service to all communities and to the innocents caught up in this awful set of circumstances.

What Rotherham needs are cool and calm heads to prevail and for justice to be done. It does not need extremist far right groups capitalising on the pain of others and it does not need racists and bigots to believe that they have free range to terrorise others. If we allow this behaviour, well it simply isn’t being British.

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