Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Irish Examiner and Limerick Leader report on the trial of a man who daubed the words “murderers out” on the front of a Pakistani run takeaway in Limerick after watching beheading videos on television news.

Mark Hobbs, 50, an Englishman living in Limerick in Ireland, had previously targeted the Megabites chip shop run by Ali Aslan, when in 2013 he threatened to kill Mr Aslan with a kitchen knife after watching news reports of the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby. Mr Hobbs was convicted in 2013 over the incident and received a community service order.

Limerick Circuit Court this week heard that Hobbs painted the words “p**** out now”; “perverts”; “s**t”; “c***s”; and “murderers out” on the front of Megabites takeaway on 14 September 2014.

CCTV footage from cameras at the shop captured Mr Hobbs engaged in the act of criminal damage.

Hobbs pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal damage but prosecutors did not proceed with the charge of incitement to hatred in relation to the offensive graffiti due to lack of evidence.

The court heard that when Hobbs was arrested he told the gardai (Irish police) “All they [Muslims] want to do is take over everywhere. All they want to do is kill us.” He also said, “I know they’re anti-English people.”

When asked why he believed that to be the case, Hobbs responded “Because they are Muslims, aren’t they?”. When asked by the gardai if he had a problem with Islam, Hobbs replied “No, not at all, but I do have a problem with people abusing 10 and 11 year olds and chopping innocent people’s heads off.”

“It’s Muslims I have a problem with,” he added.

Throughout his interview with police officers, Hobbs is said to have “expressed an anti-Pakistani sentiment throughout,” according to the prosecution case.

Hobbs apologised to Mr Aslan in court saying his father’s recent death has left him bereft and he had taken to drinking heavily as a result.

Judge O’Donnell said he needed time to consider his sentence on the criminal damage charge against Hobbs. On being shown photographic evidence of the graffiti, Judge O’Donnell said “I find this extremely disturbing, extremely disturbing.”

Hobbs has been remanded on continuing bail and is due to appear before Limerick Circuit Court on 29 January for sentencing.

The Mirror reports on the sacking of a supply teacher at a south London school for calling a 12 year old Muslim pupil “a terrorist”.

The paper reports that the female supply teacher at Deptford Green secondary school used the term of abuse when the Muslim pupil complained about being placed on detention for talking in class. The teacher is said to have responded to the boy’s complaint saying, “I don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

The boy said, “What did you call me?” and threatened to report the teacher if she did not apologise.

According to a source quoted by the paper, the teacher refused to apologise stating “It’s just a saying.”

The paper reports that the headteacher of the school, Mr Mark Phillips, has issued a statement after the teacher’s sacking stating: “As soon as we were made aware of this incident we acted, resulting in the immediate dismissal of the supply teacher.

“We have apologised to the student and his mother and reassured them that we will not tolerate any form of bullying or racism in our school.”

The Hereford Times reports on the trial of a man charged with two counts of racially aggravated common assault after he launched an attack on an Asian man in the city centre for “no other reason apart from his ethnic background”.

Zahid Ali, who had recently moved to Hereford from Birmingham, and a female friend were out in the city on the night of 17 July at around 11pm when four men walked past the couple.

One of the men, 28 year old Jonathan Evans, walked up to the couple and addressing Ali, said  “there is no mosque here, go and pray to the bull.”

Ali told Evans to desist but Evans responded “it’s not your country.”

Evans’ friends also tried to get him to leave the couple alone but Evans persisted saying “I’m British and got a British passport.” Evans then punched at Ali in the face.

Prosecutor Clare Linehan, told Hereford Magistrates Court, “The victim’s girlfriend asked passers-by for help at which point Evans made prayer actions and said he was ‘sticking up for British people’.”

Ali told the court “The incident has affected how I feel about Hereford and has really knocked my confidence. I’m frightened to go out alone and don’t at night.

“The incident was really unpleasant with injuries to my lip and pain in my jaw.

“What is worse is that it was racially motivated that affected me most and there was no reason apart from my ethnic background.”

Chris Chappell, Councillor for Hinton & Hunderton, told the local paper that the incident was one of several in the city and indicated a “worrying trend” in racism.

The Hereford Times notes other incidents of racist abuse that have come to attention in recent weeks including a carer who was racially abused by a man who later told police officers that he “wanted to join the Ku Klux Klan” and a British solider, Christopher McMahon, who was handed an 18 month conditional discharge and a fine after he racially abused a Muslim taxi driver and refused to pay his fare.

Cllr Chapman added, “It is appalling but it doesn’t surprise me as at all as I hear some awful things every day during conversations in pubs and clubs saying things about foreigners.

“It’s interesting the reason for them being racist and attacking people from different faiths and religions.

“They need to know that the Christian community are all in favour of Muslims having their own mosque and will do everything to ensure they can practice their own faith.”

Evans was found guilty on both charges of racially aggravated common assault. Magistrates ordered for the case to be adjourned for two weeks for an ‘all options report’ to be prepared and warned Evans that a custodial sentence was “probably appropriate”.

Evans was released on conditional bail with the restrictions not to contact the victims, not to be drunk in public and to cooperate with the probation service.

The Times front page today features the headline “Muslims are not like us, race equality chief says”, in an article on the comments by the former Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Sir Trevor Phillips, at a meeting organised by Policy Exchange on Monday.

The headline does a disservice to the reported comments by Sir Trevor, which to all intents and purposes appear to suggest the drawing of a distinction between “assimilation” and “integration” when talking about British Muslims.

The comments included in the article are few but are nonetheless instructive.

Sir Trevor, as reported in The Times, told the meeting in Westminster “Continuously pretending that a group is somehow eventually going to become like the rest of us is perhaps the deepest form of disrespect. Because what you are essentially saying is the fact that they behave in a different way, some of which we may not like, is because they haven’t yet seen the light. It may be that they see the world differently from the rest of us.”

“Part of the integration process is for the rest of us to grasp that people aren’t going to change their views simply because we are constantly telling them that basically they should be like us.”

Sir Trevor hits on a point that if often lost among Conservative politicians too many of whom use the term “integration” when they actually mean “assimilation”.

While Muslim communities rarely dispute the need for integration, in as much as it means social, economic and political equality among citizens, few have embraced the idea that British Muslims should shed their religious and cultural attributes in order to “fit in”. Indeed, assimilation is resisted on the grounds that it effaces the characteristics of minority groups and enforces absorption into the majority culture.

In arguing that “Part of the integration process is for the rest of us to grasp that people aren’t going to change their views simply because we are constantly telling them that basically they should be like us”, Sir Trevor highlights two aspects of the thrust of assimilationism that are troubling. Firstly, the supposition that the majority culture is superior, or more enlightened, and secondly, that integration is a two way street, something that requires effort on the part of minority and majority communities.

Media coverage of Sir Trevor’s remarks, as from The Times headline, would suggest that the more nuanced facets of his comments have been all but lost.

There are other aspects to the meeting organised by Policy Exchange on Monday that seem to have garnered much less attention but which are newsworthy in their own right.

For example, a short report in the Daily Mail highlighted comments by Louise Casey, who is currently spearheading the PM’s review on employment opportunities among BME and building the ‘One Nation’.

Casey told the meeting, “’We let forced marriage happen because we were so wrapped up in political correctness and wanting our multicultural Britain. We forgot to talk about equality and we forgot to talk about equal rights. We forgot that a girl of the age of eight is being promised to someone. That is not a Muslim issue, that is an equality issue.”

She added, “This is not just about a particular community not wanting to integrate. It is about those people on the outside who have been hand-wringing.”

It is hard to reconcile her comments with her present job and those engaged in offering evidence, written and spoken, to her inquiry should certainly be alarmed at her singling out Muslims when talking about forced marriage and child sexual exploitation.

And then there is the curious case of choosing Policy Exchange as the platform to share these views.

Policy Exchange was brilliantly profiled in the Spinwatch report, The Cold War on British Muslims. The report details the think tank’s approach to issues pertaining to Muslims and multiculturalism in particular noting that “its major preoccupation has not been protecting citizens from violence but with a perceived need to reassert ‘Western values’ against ‘extremism’. In other words, it is less concerned with public safety and more with counter-subversion.”

The Spinwatch report details the various publications by Policy Exchange about Islam and Muslims in Britain but perhaps none is as much embedded in memory as the report that was removed from its website after it was found to have forged “evidence” to support its false claims. The report, ‘The Hijacking of British Islam: How Extremist Literature is Subverting Mosques in the UK’, was published 2007 and removed from the PX site following a BBC Newsnight investigation into fraudulent receipts.

The think tank was also lambasted by the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, for its “bizarre and underhand behaviour” in trying to deter Ministers from attending one of the largest Muslim gatherings in 2008, the Global Peace and Unity conference.

James Forsyth in the Spectator last week advertised the creation of a new ‘Integration Hub’ at Policy Exchange led by David Goodhart, stating “With Number 10 eager for policies to counter ghettoisation, expect this new unit’s work to be closely followed by those who matter in Whitehall.”

It’s unlikely that the PM’s recent misguided interventions on telling British Muslims how to integrate will improve if where he is getting his policy advice is Policy Exchange.

The Guardian and Politics Home report on a letter from the Green Party to the BBC appealing a decision by the broadcaster not to allocate it any time to screen party political broadcasts.

The Green Party’s chief executive, Nick Martin, wrote to the BBC director general, Tony Hall, and the BBC’s director of editorial policy and standards, David Jordan, on Tuesday to complain about the ruling.

In December, the BBC awarded the UK Independence Party (UKIP) three party political broadcasts a year and explained its decision was based on the party’s level of support in the country and its role in the coming EU referendum campaign. However, it decided that the Green Party would not receive any party political broadcasts even though both the Green Party and UKIP each have one elected MP.

A BBC spokesperson said: “The allocation of PPB’s is based on criteria set down by the BBC Trust following a public consultation. The criteria are clear and reflect parties current and previous electoral support. The Green party has lodged an appeal against the allocation in England and there is now a formal process to hear their arguments.”

However, writing to the BBC, Mr Martin explained that the pattern and direction of electoral support in England should be recognised, arguing that the Green Party’s support had quadrupled over the past two general elections. He also questioned the decision by the broadcaster to give the Liberal Democrats three party political broadcasts per year outside of election time.

Natalie Bennett, the Green party leader, said the BBC had failed to recognise the direction in which British politics was moving. She said: “The political landscape is fracturing as more and more people demand real change to deliver a safe climate, a public NHS and a fair economy. These proposals fail to recognise that, increasingly, people are rejecting the Westminster status quo and want to hear more about Green values and policies. This is the year that we turn the “green surge” into Green seats. We are a vibrant, united party committed to our values and driven forward by our passionate members and supporters. In 2016, we are looking forward to increasing our number of seats on the London assembly, putting in our best performance in the London mayoral contest, gaining a seat on the Welsh assembly and growing our representation on councils across England and Wales.”

In December, the BBC Trust altered its guidelines to allow political parties with one MP to be considered for party political broadcast slots on BBC1 and BBC2. Previously, a party had to have at least two representatives, as a result neither UKIP nor the Green Party would have qualified to air any broadcasts. In the run-up to last year’s general election, the BBC decided that the Green Party should not be given major party status, which would have allowed it to take part in televised debates.

The news follows on from an announcement last year by Ofcom not to award the Green Party “major party” status during the general elections. On the other hand, the regulatory body recognised UKIP as a “major party” for the first time in its history.

Early last year, another political party, the British National Party, faced the prospect of being denied airtime for party political broadcasts during the May general elections after it was found in breach of BBC rules pertaining to the number of candidates a political party puts up for election.

The Guardian reports on a 37% rise in race hate crimes on Britain’s railway networks within the last five years, with an average of more than five reported incidents of abuse and harassment each day, according to figures released under FOI.

British Transport Police (BTP), which collates data covering railway services in England, Scotland and Wales, including the London underground, recorded 1,993 incidents of racially or religiously motivated hate crimes in 2015, an average of 5.5 incidents per day.

Excluding incidents that do not state the victim’s racial identity, over three quarters of incidents recorded in 2015 involved non-white victims. A breakdown of the data shows that 36% of victims were black, 33% were Asian, 3% were mixed race and 3.5% were in the ‘other’ race category.

The greatest rise in racially motivated crimes over the last five years was against white victims, which now account for 24% of incidents recorded by the BTP. In 2015, 346 hate crimes were inflicted on white victims compared with 204 crimes in 2011.

In over a quarter of incidents recorded by the BTP (27%), the race of the victim was not stated.

In terms of prosecutions, the data, obtained via a freedom of information request shows the number of race hate crimes resulting in a prosecution fell between 2011 and 2015, from 704 to 663.

In relation to the perpetrators of hate crime on British railway networks, the majority (73%) of crimes recorded last year were instigated by white people. In 2015, black suspects accounted for 17% of hate crime incidents where the race of the suspect was stated, compared with 14% in 2011.

The most common hate crimes recorded last year involved racially or religiously motivated harassment, alarm or distress. Such incidents accounted for 58% of all hate crimes recorded by the BTP. Common assaults, where no injury was recorded, accounted for approximately 11% of hate crimes,  220 incidents, while racially or religiously motivated aggravated assault with bodily harm accounted for 1.5% of all hate crime (30 cases).

Commenting on the released data, a British Transport Police spokesman said: “Only by understanding the true scale and nature of the problem can we hope to develop lasting solutions that will give all travellers and rail staff an environment as free from hate crime as possible. What is important for people to know is that we care and we will respond.”

Mick Cash, the general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “These are shocking figures and match up with the reports that RMT members are feeding back to the union from the sharp end. They coincide with the drive to de-staff our trains and stations in the search for cuts and increased profits.”

Some of the race and religious hate crime incidents that were documented on British railway networks last year included a Muslim woman who was pushed on to the underground train tracks on the Central Line during rush hour, a woman who shouted racist abuse against Muslims on a train in Blackburn, a man who forcefully tried to remove a Muslim woman’s hijab on a train travelling between Matlock and Derby, and a man who proceeded to verbally abuse two Muslim sisters on a Metro train in Newcastle.

Late last year, official figures published by the Home Office revealed a 43% rise in racial and religious hate crime in England and Wales between 2013/14 to 2014/15. In light of the sharp rise in hate crimes in Scotland, Police Scotland launched a “transport charter” in September to tackle hate crime on public transport as part of a month long campaign to highlight the prevalence of hate crimes in the country.

The Surrey Advertiser reports on a fine imposed on a man who verbally abused a Muslim woman on the streets of Woking after the Paris attacks in November last year.

David Sadgrove pleaded guilty to two counts of racially aggravated harassment at Guildford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 19 January.

The court heard that on 15 November, Mrs Zamurd Saltana and her 2 year old daughter, were visiting someone who lived on the same street as Mr Sadgrove.

Sadgrove asked Mrs Saltana to move her car and became abusive and aggressive toward her asking “if she was a Muslim and if she was religious.”

Sadgrove said to Mrs Saltana “You have killed so many people in Paris” and “You are a terrorist, you are going to blow someone up.”

Two men living on the same street heard the abuse and came outside to see what was going on. One of them, Parvaiz Mohammad, was also taunted with racist abuse by Mr Sadgrove.

The bench heard that Sadgrove had previous convictions in 2011 and 2003 but did not have a ‘pattern’ of offending.

Chair of the bench Mrs Lesley Shanks, sentencing Sadgrove said, “You were swearing and those offences did happen in front of a two-year-old child.”

Recognising the racially aggravated element of the offence, Mrs Lesley Shanks said this had increased Sadgrove’s debt.

Sadgrove was fined £200 for the first offence and £75 for the second. He was also ordered to pay £87 in costs and a £20 victim surcharge.

The Press and Journal reports on an arrest warrant issued by Aberdeen Sheriff Court after a man accused of a racially aggravated offence failed to appear in court last week.

Lewis Guyan, 27, is alleged to have grabbed a Muslim man on September 27 last year and tried to burn him with a cigarette at an Iceland supermarket on Great Northern Road, Aberdeen.

Guyan is further accused of behaving in a threatening manner and verbally abusing the man with remarks of a racist nature while trying to block his path along the road.

Guyan was due to appear before Aberdeen Sheriff Court on 18 January but failed to show.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court has since issued a warrant for his arrest.

Newcastle’s Chronicle Live news site reports that a man has been arrested and charged with racially/religiously aggravated common assault following an incident at an Asda supermarket in Gosforth last week.

The local news site reported on the incident which happened on Wednesday 20 January at around 9.40pm, last week but did not identify the victim as a Muslim woman.

However, Facebook posts, including one by the victim’s sister, detailed how a man allegedly approached a Muslim woman in the supermarket and attempted to forcibly remove her face veil while “shouting terrorist at her”.

The local news site reports that Albert Vincent Paul Tudor, 36, from Gateshead was charged on Monday morning and will appear at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court on February 19.

Chief Inspector Steve Hails, of Central Area Command, said that the police force take hate crimes very seriously, and encouraged victims to report incidents to the police. He said, “We understand, and do not underestimate, the impact that a hate crime can have on an individual, and indeed a community, and would urge anyone who is the victim of any incidents of this nature to come forward and report it to us.

“We will give victims all of the support they need and will do everything we can to identify those responsible and take appropriate action.”

The Wiltshire and Gloucester Standard reports on the victim of a racially aggravated hate crime who has donated his victim compensation to a local charity that supported him in pursuing his claim for justice.

Navjot Sawhney, 24, suffered a “tirade” of racist abuse from 22 year old Dean Kent on January 27, 2015.

Last February, Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard how Kent had uttered words of racist abuse at Sawhney on Malmesbury High Street as Sawhney was taking marketing photos for a charity shop. Kent had repeatedly called Sawhney a “P***” and a “rag head” in an incident that was witnessed by the general manager of the HEALS charity centre, Alison Cross-Jones.

Sawhney said that though he was shocked by the abuse, “my first reaction was to shrug the incident off. Racism is part of life. I didn’t even consider reporting it.”

Ms Cross-Jones who took down the number plate of the car Kent was sat in, encouraged Sawhney to report the incident to the police.

Sawhney did so and Kent later pleaded guilty to racially aggravated behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress and was ordered to pay £50 compensation as well as £100 in fines and a £20 victim surcharge.

Sawhney has now donated the victim compensation to HEALS charity centre. He told the local paper, “I wouldn’t have pursued the incident if it wasn’t for Alison who said that you can’t let that go.”

“I think the whole thing is pretty symbolic, it’s all come full circle. I turned a negative around into a positive contribution to charity.”

Ms Cross-Jones said, “From my point of view Nav was willing to accept it. It’s part of his life, and I said it wasn’t acceptable; we supported him in reporting it to the police and taking it further.

“I am very pleased that a valuable lesson has been learned. Racism is not something to be tolerated or expected on any level.”

There has been growing concern among British Sikhs at mis-directed Islamophobia with anti-Muslim prejudice being levelled at Sikhs whose attire is sometimes mistaken for Islamic dress.

There have been a number of serious incidents in recent years including Dr Sarandev Bhambra, a dentist who suffered “life-altering injuries” after he was brutally assaulted in a Tesco supermarket by a machete wielding neo-Nazi.