Individuals are using social media platforms to galvanise support for anti-mosque applications.
One example is the openly hostile ‘No more mosques in Plymouth’ – a paged draped in the imagery and language of British nationalism. A page dedicated to protecting ‘the values of Plymouths British patriots and ensure we fight to stop more mosques coming to Plymouth.’
The original proposal offered local Kurds in Plymouth a cultural centre to learn about their collective histories and culture, to improve their English skills, offer educational classes at weekends and a space for prayer.
In September, the Plymouth Herald ran the headline ‘Mosque plan for former vet surgery in Plymouth’. But the opening paragraph states it could turn ‘into a mosque and cultural centre’. A closer reading of the original application hints at nothing more than an educational and cultural centre with a space to prayer.
But Plymouth City Council rejected the application due to inadequate parking.
The anti-mosque page did link to the controversial Law and Freedom Foundation. But their opposition is merely a proxy for anti-Muslim bigotry as the conspiracy theories pour out (even after the council’s rejection in November):
“To those fascist right wing soft spot for muslims lovers keep supporting them because the day will come when they’ll be the death of this future generation Europeans are being replaced with islamic immigration.” [January 2]
“Every European state will be crippled by islamic immigration in a matter of years. No to the EU no to islamic immigration.” [December 24]
“Britain is being crippled by immigration most of all Islamic immigration that’s right I said it Islamic. In a matter of decades Muslim will rise and civil wars will break making us a minority in our own country.” [December 24]
Rather oddly, the page confuses Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan dictator, with the fictional wizard Gandalf: “Gandalf once said muslims will take over Europe not with guns but by populating by 8 to our 2 but where is gandalf now you ask?? Killed by his own muslim … Their at war with each other what chance have they got against us none what so ever.”
For the avoidance of doubt, the group are unlikely to own a legitimate copy of Lord of the Rings.
One post called for various far-right groups (including the BNP and EDL) to join forces and fight against a ‘majority muslim multicultural terrorist group of infidels’.
The ‘We do not need another mosque in plymouth’ Facebook page mirrors this rhetoric and the pages sometimes share content.
In a broader and national sense, the Twitter account @MosqueBlocker encourages and helps individuals legally oppose mosque applications.
It explicitly states ‘this page is not for racism,or incitement of violence,peaceful objections only please !!!’ But often warns others about tagging them with anti-Muslim content for fear of suspension. Yet, that caution does not prevent them from retweeting anti-Muslim accounts.
On January 2, @MosqueBlocker tweeted: “This page is not about hating on Islam ,we just feel there are enough mosques and building more causes issues .Hope you understand.”
The individuals behind @MosqueBlocker also use the Facebook page ‘NomoreMosques Opposenow’. One noticeable ‘like’ is ‘No more mosques in Plymouth’.
On December 20 2014, one admin posted ‘can you all head over to my page too and give it a like , thanks’ on the anti-Muslim page ‘No More Mosques’. The request was repeated days later.
Some of the early photos posted on ‘NomoreMosques Opposenow’ page are openly nationalistic and raise questions about its objectivity, as if a page solely dedicated to legally opposing mosques exists objectively.
Other pages under the ‘NomoreMosques Opposenow’ includes ‘Sandwell planning Application’ and ‘Birmingham 2’. Rather noteworthy is that both pages use of a photograph of a man holding a sign that reads ‘No More Mosques’. That photograph is from an English Defence League rally in 2009.
Opposition to mosque applications (legitimate or otherwise) are becoming a way for the far-right (and sympathisers) to push an asinine anti-Muslim echo chamber online. Interested groups proclaiming objectivity in opposition are perhaps less objective than originally claimed.