Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Western Gazette reports that a man accused of hurling racist abuse at a Turkish kebab shop worker will stand trial next year.

James Richard Turton, 22, appeared before Somerset Magistrates court last week to deny a charge of using racially aggravated threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He is alleged to have racially abused Servet Circir, who works in a kebab shop in Yeovil, telling him to “go back to your own country.”

Somerset Magistrates adjourned the case whilst a review is conducted and Turton is expected to stand trial on 1 February 2016.

Until then, Turton was released on unconditional bail, the local paper reports.

The Northamptonshire Telegraph reports on a suspected Islamophobic attack on a hijab-wearing Muslim female in Kettering.

The local paper reports that a 13 year old girl was pushed over by a stranger as she walked along Whiteford Drive just before 5pm on Wednesday, November 11.

The attack, which appears to be unprovoked, left the teenager with minor injuries.

Police believe the incident may have been religiously aggravated because of the victim’s religious attire.

An appeal for information gives the description of the man suspected of attacking the teenager as: “white, fat, about 5ft 6in and aged between 40 and 48.

“He had white hair with a bald patch on the top of his head and was wearing dark clothes.”

Witnesses, or anyone who knows anything about this incident can call Northamptonshire Police on 101.

Alternatively, they can call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use the anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

The University of Edinburgh’s student newspaper, The Student, reports on an alleged Islamophobic incident on campus in which two students were spat on and called “motherf****** terrorist whores”.

The incident was related by a university history lecturer, Dr Talat Ahmed, who alleges that two students approached her after the attack.

Dr Ahmed told the Student newspaper: “Two students have come to see me. One who wears a hijab, and one who doesn’t, but both of them with brown skin.

“Both of them have been spat at on this campus and told that they were “motherf****** terrorist whores”.

The history lecturer did not name the students for reasons of privacy and security. The Student newspaper further adds that neither the University nor Police Scotland have received an incident report about the alleged abuse.

Esti Zaid, president of the Islamic Society of the University of Edinburgh, told the university’s student publication: “Our biggest priority now is to ensure that Muslim students feel completely safe not only on campus but in Edinburgh, and that they are aware of the steps they should take should they experience any Islamophobia.”

Last week, The Student published an account of the anxiety experienced by Muslim students at Edinburgh University as Police Scotland announced a major spike in racial and religious hate crimes across the region.

Shaliz Navab recounted some of the reactions of Muslim students on campus to the post-Paris environment writing, “Beyond the subtle Islamophobia that these students are facing on a daily basis, is an internalized struggle, fuelled by these micro-aggressive looks, judgements, and even stigmatizing vocabulary. As one of the interviewees explained, the mere description of these attacks as “terrorism” instead of as “crimes” changes the way in which they are perceived. As, through the media, “the term terrorism has been given an identity and this identity has been falsely linked with Islam and the stereo-typical Middle Eastern appearances that supposedly come with it.” Thus, the reality is that no matter how shocked, devastated and upset these students feel about the occurrences in Paris, there is still an element of unqualified guilt, finger-pointing and pressure on them to defend themselves and their faith in situations like these. “Saying sorry is saying that this is in Islam, to me it is not. Why would I apologize?”.”

Two women who dropped their trousers to urinate in front of a Muslim couple who were praying in a Plymouth park have been handed suspended jail terms, the Plymouth Herald reports.

Claire Farrell, 36, and Natalie Richardson, 32, pleaded guilty to religiously-aggravated threatening and abusive behaviour causing harassment at Plymouth Crown Court last month. Richardson also pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault for pushing a passer-by who came to the family’s assistance, Mr Wesley Smith.

Plymouth Crown Court heard that a Muslim couple were in the park on 16 August with their two young children, aged 8 and 10, and were preparing to perform their daily prayers at around 6pm.

Mr Smith, who was sat nearby in the park said he “overheard these two defendants say: ‘If those Muslim c***s start to pray I am going to piss in front of them’.”

He added that Farrell shouted out: “Not in Plymouth”.

Edward Bailey, for the Crown Prosecution Service, told the court that “Both defendants, holding bottles of beer, ran up the hill towards the victims, stopped some two to three metres away and proceeded to pull down their lower clothing, squatted down in front of the couple and urinated in front of them while making desultory comments.”

The couple’s daughter burst into tears. When Mr Smith intervened, Richardson pushed him in the chest with both hands.

The court heard a victim statement from the mother who said, “I found it particularly shocking was how these women displayed such offensive behaviour to people who were praying.

“A lot of horrific things have happened in the name of Islam which we do not condone at all. A lot of people are branding us the same as terrorists.

“This incident just served to increase the fears for both myself and my children.”

Recorder Trevaski, sentencing Farrell and Richardson said, “Nobody in civilised society could see your behaviour in any way justified or acceptable, not in the multi-cultural society in which we live. I describe it as disgusting.”

Both women were handed a six-month jail term suspended for 12 months. They will each have to work with probation and pay £300 towards prosecution costs.

Recorder Trevaski  also praised the public spirit of Mr Smith, a 28-year-old former serviceman, for intervening during the incident.

The London Evening Standard reports on yet another suspected Islamophobic attack on public transport after a pregnant Muslim woman was allegedly subjected to a 15 minute tirade of verbal abuse and threatened with physical assault by a drunk passenger on a bus.

The paper reports that the woman, who was travelling on the 259 bus along Blackstock Road in Finsbury Park, on the morning of Monday 23 November, was verbally abused by a passenger who allegedly said “B****, get back to your country” and called her a “Muslim terrorist”.

A fellow passenger, Betta Elisa, related details of the incident saying that passengers did not step in to help the woman until the man “leaned forward to punch her” at which point a male passenger stood up and intervened.

Elisa said, “He was really aggressive. She was crying loudly.

“He leaned forward to punch her.

“But a man intervened and stopped him.

“Before that, no one was saying anything. I was going to help but another woman stopped me and said it was dangerous. Now I wish I had.”

There have been several reports of Islamophobic abuse on public transport in recent months prompting a public petition urging Transport for London to do more to protect passengers travelling on the capital’s public transport network. Earlier this month, a woman who subjected two Muslim women to a vicious diatribe on a London bus in which she called them “ISIS b******” and threatened to “donkey kick” one of the women “so you never have a kid again,” was handed a suspended jail sentence.

The LES notes that Scotland Yard have made an arrest in connection with last week’s incident.

The Chronicle Live reports on a post added to a Facebook page by an independent councillor for Morpeth Town Council, David E Clark, in which he stated “Islam is the biggest threat to world peace.”

Clark posted the comment on the page Morpeth Matters, which has since been closed down, on Saturday 14 November, the day after the Paris attacks. On the page, which had over 9,000 followers, Clark posted the comment:

“As nice as it is for us all to put up French tricolur (sic) on our Facebook pages, the fact remains ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) need to be wiped off the face of the earth.

“Islam is the biggest threat to world peace.”

The Chronicle Live further notes that when Clark was questioned about his comment referring to “Islam” and not “radical Islam”, as his purported target, he replied:

“That’d be like saying all Christians, Sikhs or Hindus are all bad, which of course is quite ludicrous.

“I believe that anyone who is trying to say that I meant otherwise is doing it for their own agenda, whatever that maybe, but I suspect it may be political.”

The local news site reports that the post was referred to Northumbria Police which carried out enquiries before establishing that no crime had been committed and issuing advice to the councillor.

A spokesperson for Northumbria Police said:

“At 9.47pm on Wednesday, November 18, police received a report of concern over offensive comments posted online.

“Enquiries were carried out and it was established that no criminal offence had taken place.

“Police have given words of advice to the person involved.”

BBC News and the Independent on Sunday report on an incident at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London which is being treated as a suspected hate crime by the Met police.

BBC News reports that a man was seen trying to set the mosque alight at around 10 o’clock on Saturday morning, 28 November.

The man, who has been described as “white and wearing a hooded top,” was also seen near the mosque on Friday night, 27 November.

Scotland Yard have said that they received a report about a man acting suspiciously near the mosque before the alleged arson attempt. The suspect is reported to have fled the scene on a moped.

The Independent on Sunday notes that forensic officers were seen working outside the mosque on Saturday morning.

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact Islington CID on 0207 421 0262 or by dialling 101 or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via crimestoppers-uk.org.

Online news site, Get Reading, reports on an alleged ‘racially aggravated’ verbal abuse case after a woman reported being threatened by a man while walking in Reading town centre.

The news site reports that the incident happened between 6.15pm and 6.30pm on Tuesday, November 17 when a 24-year-old woman was walking with two friends in the town centre. She noticed a man walking next to her who she claims “made a threatening hand gesture before using aggressive language suggesting the woman should be killed.”

The woman was not injured.

The site notes details of an appeal for information by Thames Valley Police that describes the suspect as “white, aged in his mid-40s, slim build with light coloured hair. He was wearing a green camouflage jacket and a beige baseball hat.”

Witnesses are urged to come forward with any information about the incident by calling the 24-hour Thames Valley Police enquiry centre on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The voluntary sector website, Third Sector, reports on comments made by Sir Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive of the UK charity leaders’ representative body Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) accusing the Charity Commission of a “disproportionate focus” on Muslim charities and the purported risk posed to the charity sector by “Islamist extremism”.

Sir Stephen’s made the remark at the Acevo annual conference after, Chairman of the Charity Commission, William Shawcross, delivered a conference speech about protecting charities from “Islamist abuse” being one of the three core strategic priorities for the regulator. The other two priorities are protecting charities from fraud and protecting vulnerable beneficiaries.

Speaking from the audience at the conference in central London yesterday, Sir Stephen acknowledged that it was the Charity Commission’s job to root out wrongdoing in the charity sector and that terrorism could be an issue for charities but he argued that the commission’s “overemphasis” on “Islamist extremism” and “Muslim charities” was creating unease in the sector.

He said: “What I think has disturbed many of us is there is an overemphasis on ‘Islamist abuse’, and William was talking about it this morning in a disproportionate way. There are all sorts of abuses that might affect charities, and the number of statutory inquiries into Muslim charities has been disproportionate.”

Sir Stephen referred to the recent case lost by the Charity Commission over its decision to “force” the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust to undertake to cease charitable donations to the advocacy group Cage, saying the case revealed a “let’s get them” attitude that had shocked the sector.

Sir Stephen went on to say the sector and the commission needed to focus on supporting Muslim groups and not just on “enforcement”. He said: “If you want to attack extremism, you need to do both the security measures in legislation and winning hearts and minds among younger people. This is a community of three million people, the second-largest faith group, half of whom were born in this country and the vast majority of whom identify themselves as British nationals. We should be working as a sector with society on the way that we integrate and work with those communities, and that’s why many of us are disturbed by the emphasis that’s been taken.”

A Charity Commission spokeswoman however disagreed with Sir Stephen’s assertions and said: “We challenge the assertion that a disproportionate number of inquiries are open into ‘Muslim charities’ and refer to the latest analysis of charities that become subject to inquiries or compliance cases, available on our website. We also undertake a great deal of outreach work, reaching 2,000 delegates at 1,000 charities last year.”

She further highlighted a visit by Mr Shawcross to Brick Lane Mosque in East London last week which suggests more about the Chairman’s approach than perhaps the Commission realises. One is minded to ask why, if the Chairman was making a visit to an east London mosque, he didn’t choose the largest one, the East London Mosque, which attracts a far greater congregation than the Brick Lane mosque as a means of dispelling Muslim doubts?

Following Mr Shawcross’ comments last year that “Islamist” extremism was the “deadliest threat” facing charities, Claystone published a report noting that over the period January 2013 to April 2014, 38% of the Commission’s statutory inquiries targeted Muslim charities despite their being only 1.1% of the number of charities registered under the commission.

Earlier this year, Muslim charities were again placed under the spotlight after Mr Shawcross’ alleged that “Islamist abuse could be catastrophic for charities…we must be vigilant”. He however dismissed accusations of unfairly targeting Muslim charities, saying “We are not targeting Muslim charities unfairly or disproportionately in any way whatsoever, nor should we, nor would we.”

Despite these assertions, a “perception of bias” by the Commission toward Muslim charities remains and many believe that it has had a detrimental impact on their ability to undertake humanitarian work oversees. A  report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) last year revealed that the risk of non-government organisations being abused for extremist or terrorist purposes had been “overstated by some interested parties”.

In March of this year, the Charity Commission were heavily criticised for behaving beyond their remit, after they pressured two charities, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Anita Roddick Foundation, to withdraw funding to the human rights advocacy group Cage. At the time, Sir Stephen said: “Britain needs to fight terrorism with both hands – not with one hand tied behind our back. We need high level strategic security measures but also better understanding of the conditions on the ground that breed or alleviate the threat of extremism. There are serious flaws in our current approach. We must recognise that an overzealous approach by regulators has exacerbated the difficulties charities already experience from restrictions on their bank accounts. The Charity Commission, in particular, has found itself at loggerheads with many of the organisations it regulates. Regrettably, they are perceived by parts of the charity sector to be biased in their investigatory priorities – and a perception of bias here can be as corrosive as actual bias.”

Earlier in the year, the government introduced new legislation to give the Charity Commission more powers of intervention under the Protection of Charities Bill, as well as £8 million to tackle abuse “including the use of funds for extremist and terrorist activity”. The Commission will have to do more if it is to command the respect of Muslims charities as a regulator that is not driven by a “let’s get them” attitude.

The Herts Advertiser reports on a student from St Albans who has won praise after stepping in and helping a pregnant Muslim woman who was assaulted in a suspected hate crime attack.

Jodie Whitford-Stark, 20, a student at Leeds Beckett University, was on a bus on Monday 16 November 2015 in Leeds when a seven months’ pregnant Muslim woman boarded the bus in tears. She became concerned when the woman collapsed and went straight to her aid. The woman claimed she had been punched in the stomach by two boys in an alleged religiously motivated attack following the Paris attacks two weeks ago.

Ms Whitford-Stark said: “She just laid there on the floor of the bus as she was so upset with what had happened. She mumbled saying she had been attacked and another lady came over. I introduced myself and I asked what happened, it was difficult to get information out of her because she was so upset.”

Ms Whitford-Stark added that neither the bus driver nor other passengers came to the victim’s aid: “There were lots of people but they didn’t know what to do or how to help.”

After calling an ambulance, Ms Whitford-Stark waited with the woman until it arrived an hour later. She said: “She calmed down and she seemed pretty OK, but you can’t take any chances with someone who is pregnant.”

The Leeds based student travelled to the hospital with the woman and stayed with her while she was treated by a doctor and until the woman’s family arrived at the hospital later that evening.

Ms Whitford-Stark said: “I didn’t want to leave her until someone came to meet her and the family kept in touch through me. The paramedics said to me ‘Don’t you have anything better to do?’, I couldn’t believe it! I wanted to restore their [Muslims’] faith in humanity, there are people out there who care. If that was my mum you would want someone to go out of their way to help her wouldn’t you? She was really grateful.”

She said she had received lots of expressions of gratitude from the woman’s family members, both in person and via text message. A message from the victim’s husband, read: “You stood by my family, the least I can do is to say thank you and to see my family’s hero…you are a star”.

She called her mother to explain what had happened during the taxi ride home, and added: “At the end of the journey I got off the phone and the driver asked me if I believed in good Karma? I said I don’t know, and he replied saying that he had switched off the meter because I had done such a good deed.”

Since the Paris attacks on 13 November 2015, Muslims have reported a spate of anti-Muslim and racist attacks. Last week, Scotland Police revealed 64 cases of race and religious hate crimes had been reported to the police since the incident in Paris.

In light of the rise in Islamophobic attacks, there have also been a number of cases where passers-by have stepped in to counter the abuse inflicted upon Muslims. Three days after the attacks in Paris, a man stepped in to defend a young Muslim woman after she was subjected to horrendous anti-Muslim abuse on a tube train and last week, a carriage full of passengers in Newcastle stepped in to defend a young Muslim woman after she was singled out for abuse by a fellow traveller.