Monthly Archives: January 2014

In a cover story reminiscent of tropes used to malign Jews, Douglas Murray in last week’s Spectator magazine wrote abput the Sunni-Shia schism and its ‘clarification’ of politics and power in the Middle East.

Deigning the conflict in Syria and Sunni-Shia tensions in countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, a ‘thirty years’ war, Murray explores where the conflicts may lead focusing on the roles of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The accompanying image is perhaps one that is likely to attract some disdain. It portrays two Arabs with large noses, echoing a well known anti-Semitic trope. Not since the Spectator published the cover story ‘How to spot the jihadi next door’ has the magazine graced its cover with such an unpleasant image.

The Bolton News relays the experience of a British Muslim female victim of hate crime as part of coverage of Hate Crime Awareness Week in Greater Manchester.

The woman, who works for a housing association, Bolton at Home, relates how a response to a resident’s call about anti-social behaviour resulted in racist abuse.

The housing officer said “I attended the area with a colleague and witnessed the perpetrator causing noise nuisance. When the perpetrator saw me she started to shout racist abuse and told me to go “back home”. I was also threatened with being thrown down the stairs if I didn’t leave.

“I am a British Muslim from Indian heritage and to be told to go home; which home? The UK is my home, I haven’t lived anywhere else.

“I felt annoyed, upset and disappointed to believe that people can speak to others in this way and I am sad to know that they live within my community. People that use this language have little or no respect for others or themselves.”

The housing officer reported the incident and her abuser is under strict court orders and banned from using abusive language in public.

Figures revealed last week show the rise in hate crimes in Greater Manchester between April and December 2013. Of the 3,282 incidents of hate crimes in Greater Manchester, an overwhelming majority of 2,687 (or 82%) were race-related, 244 were religious hate crimes, 338 were against sexual orientation, 106 were related to disability, 35 against transgender people and a further 21 targeting sub-cultures.

 

The Jewish Chronicle last week reported on the House of Lords debate on religious slaughter and animal welfare promoted by a question tabled by Lord Trees.

Lord Trees posed the question: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the ethical, legal and religious factors that influence the way in which some animals are slaughtered in the United Kingdom.

The ensuing debate heard from members concerned about animal welfare and the use of pre-stunning in the preparation of halal and kosher meat. Some members referred to the methods as ‘barbaric’ and ‘absolutely unacceptable’.

Lord Trees, who raised the issue, argued“unnecessary suffering is being caused to a very substantial number of animals by slaughter without stunning.”

He said, “In Europe, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland have disallowed non-stun slaughter, and New Zealand does not permit the non-stun abattoir slaughter of mammals. Significantly, New Zealand exports large amounts of sheep meat that has been reversibly stunned and certified as halal to Muslim communities in Asia and the Middle East.”

Although he argues for the need for both Muslim and Jewish communities to reflect on their religious practices, Lord Trees puts forward the question “Is it not time to adopt stunning to preclude the possibility of unnecessary suffer – as some Muslim food authorities have allowed?”

In addition to the method of slaughter, the question of labelling of foodstuffs prepared without stunning also arose in the debate with Lord Trees stating: “The EU is currently conducting a study on providing consumers with the relevant information on the stunning of animals by labelling of meat products. In the UK, the beef and lamb trade organisation EBLEX is working on the issue of clear labelling with halal producers. Will the Government support measures to label meat appropriately to enable consumers to make informed choices?”

Responding for the Government, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Lord De Mauley, said that “While the Government would prefer to see all animals stunned before slaughter, we respect the rights of Jewish and Muslim communities to eat meat prepared in accordance with their religious beliefs.”

Lord Sheikh and Jewish peers, Baroness Deech, Lord Palmer and Rabbi Lord Sacks all spoke up in defence of halal and kosher slaughter methods.

Lord Sheikh clarified that “there has never been any conclusive scientific evidence to suggest that religious slaughter is less humane than conventional mechanical methods…In halal slaughter the animal ceases to feel pain due to the immediate brain starvation of blood and oxygen. For the first few seconds after the incision is made, the animal does not feel any pain. This is followed by a few seconds of deep unconsciousness as large quantities of blood are drained from the body. Thereafter, readings indicate no pain at all.”

The proper labelling of food has become an important area in meat production with demands for pre-stunned meat to be appropriately identified so that consumers may make informed choices.

This report contains details of incidents of anti-Muslim hate crimes which have been reported in local and national media in the UK and which form part of our regular monitoring of such incidents for submission to the Office for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The incidents detailed here are not an exhaustive list of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the respective years. They are a compilation of incidents which we have documented from the reports carried in local and national news.

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The Sunderland Echo reports on the nailing of a copy of the Qur’an to the walls of a former pub which is to be converted into an Islamic education centre in the town of Shotton Colliery.

Graham French, a member of the far right English Defence League also painted the letters EDL onto the wall twice.

He pleaded guilty to causing racially or religiously-aggravated criminal damage but claimed that the act was a ‘revenge attack’ after he was followed home one night by a woman wearing a burqa.

Chairman of the bench, David Carr, said: “Not only is the daubing of the words racially aggravated, but the nailing of the Koran to the wall makes it even worse.”

The case has been adjourned until next month while a report is prepared on French. He was bailed on the condition that he does not contact Mr Kaiser Javeed Choudry, the Muslim businessman behind the redevelopment project.

Supporters from the English Defence League (EDL) and its faction group the English Volunteer Force (EVF) have threatened to attack an Islamic centre in Purley, according to reports in This is Local London and Croydon Guardian.

A Youtube clip shows two far right extremists trying to enter Anjuman-e-Zaini mosque in South Croydon, rattling the entrance doors and buzzing the intercom system.

Despite the mosque being an authorised place of worship, according to the Croydon Council, the antagonists claim in the video:

“This is known as an illegal mosque. There’s no sign saying it’s a mosque. Yet we’ve seen people coming in and out of here for prayers and all sorts of other business.”

The far right extremists also tried to enter by pressing the intercom. When no one responded, they threatened “Next Friday, we’re coming back. We’re going to have the place over.”

According to EDL News, Alfie Smith (also known as Mark Weston), filmed ‘Marcus Croydon’ and Dave Harding attempting to enter to mosque. A facebook post by Alfie Smith also referring to the centre states: “We don’t want to spoil the surprise for the muzzies.”

Shaukat Dungarwalla, Secretary of the Anjuman-e-Zaini mosque, called the police as soon as he was made aware of the video. The police are said to be keeping an eye on developments in the area.

Croydon has seen a share of far right activity in recent months with the EVF organising a protest outside the UK Border Agency Headquarters in Croydon against the “Islamification” of Britain. Croydon Council, at the time of discussion over a planning application for the Purley Islamic Community Centre heard from the self-styled ‘mosque-buster’ Gavin Boby, who spoke against the proposal.

BBC NewsITV News and regional papers, Birmingham Mail and the Express and Star, all report on the screening of a police appeal on BBC Crimewatch to identify 50 suspects wanted in connection with public order offences committed during an English Defence League demonstration in Birmingham last July.

Around 2000 EDL supporters descended on the city at the protest last year in which police were pelted with “Smoke bombs, cobble stones, bottles and coins”.

Police have already charged 40 people in connection with the violence and are seeking to identify a further 50 suspects.

BBC Crimewatch will air the appeal tonight, Wednesday, on BBC One at 9pm.

Islamophobia Watch picks up on a story in yesterday’s Daily Star on the scrapping of a school tour featuring former co-founder and leader of the English Defence League, Stephen Lennon.

Lennon was due to visit the Duchess Community High School in Northumberland when the visit was cancelled by the headteacher. Parents at the Duchess Community High School warned on social media that Lennon was no role model, according to the Daily Star.

The Daily Star notes critics’ views on Lennon’s role in allegedly inciting hatred at demonstrations at a cost to the British taxpayer of millions of pounds in policing.

In response to the cancellation of his tour, Lennon stated “I don’t blame the school for cancelling…if people knew the date and time of my appearance, there would be demonstrators.” He now rather plans to post a video online daring any head teacher to allow him into their school.

Although Lennon left the far right English Defence League last October, and seems to show some concern about how Muslims may be targeted, Islamophobia Watch notes that he recently retweeted an objection by a father who discovered his daughter’s school plans to teach Islam – “my daughter came home with this from school 1day, A full half terms topic is Islam. #notmywatch”.

He also retweeted a message following the cancellation of his school visit stating: “@TRobinsonNewEra branded a thug for standing up to these Islamic brainwashed fucking orrible Muslims cos everyone is scared to upset them.”

Islamophobia Watch sensibly questions the extent to which Lennon’s views have changed when comparing a tweet he posted in October 2012: “Fed up of #Middleengland telling us how great islam is. You fucking try living with them. Send your kids to school with theirs.”

Local paper, the Enfield Independent, reports on the suspension of a local Conservative councillor from the party following an investigation into anti-Muslim comments posted on his Facebook page last year.

Cllr Chris Joannides was suspended by the local party association and had the whip withdrawn from the Conservative group on Enfield Council for the Facebook comments in which he compared Muslim women in burqa to black bin bags.

The Crown Prosecution Service earlier this month confirmed that Cllr Joannides would face no criminal charges for the comments however, the national board of the Conservative Party will be conducting its own investigation on the suitability of his party membership.

Enfield Conservative Group leader Cllr Michael Lavender said: “I have been notified, as we had expected, that the Conservative Party Board has exercised its right to review the suitability of Cllr Joannides and has suspended Cllr. Joannides’ membership of the party.

“We take a zero-tolerance approach to racism and believe all those who hold public office have a duty to promote respect, understanding and tolerance towards people of all faiths.”