Monthly Archives: June 2016

BBC News and the Daily Echo report on the cancellation of an Eid festival in Southampton after reports about two far right groups planning a protest in the city this weekend surfaced.

The British Bangladeshi Cultural Academy had organised an event to mark Eid ul-Fitr in the city’s East Park early next week, the first time the Eid prayer was organised as an outdoor event, but the community group have now cancelled their plans.

It follows the announcement of a protest in the city on Saturday 2 July by far right groups South Coast Resistance and the Pie and Mash Squad. The groups have called on supporters to “join us to celebrate Brexit and an end to mass immigration” and plan to demonstrate in the city centre from noon on Saturday.

Shere Sattar, chairman of the British Bangladesh Cultural Academy, said: “Considering the political situation and unrest in UK after leaving the EU, the rise of racist activity and comments around other cities around the country, and Pie and Mash deciding to visit Southampton on July 2, 2016, we British Bangladeshi Cultural Academy with other organisations have decided that for the good for all communities in our city it would be best if we cancel the huge gathering in the city park for Eid ul-Fitr prayer.”

BBC News reports local Muslims are planning to organise an event for Eid ul-Adha instead later in the year.

The Birmingham Mail reports on “vile” Islamophobic leaflets which have been delivered to properties in Aston in Birmingham this week.

The MP for Ladywood, Shabana Mahmood, described the leaflets as “vile and a disgusting piece of literature designed to frighten the people in my constituency and cause fear and create division in our society.”

She said, “I have been liaising with residents and have reported the matter to police.”

West Midlands Police are treating the incident as a “racially aggravated offence” and are studying CCTV footage at locations where the leaflets were delivered to identify the culprits.

The leaflet is titled “Camel in the tent” and is drawn in a comic book style. It presents various illustrations with one showing fringe activists holding placards reading “behead those who insult Islam” and states: “Here’s how they invade today. First they’re peaceful, until they gain power – then look out!”

At the bottom of the page, it says, “England is losing control and is closer to accepting Sharia* law (*Government according to the strict rules of the Qur’an).”

On another page, the pamphlet says “This is their pattern for conquest: Infiltrate (move in); Populate (grow large families and recruit others); Legislate (Make laws against converting Muslims); Decimate (take over the country little by little, one city at a time); Eliminate (Destroy those who do not submit to Sharia law).”

The leaflet shows a hooded man holding a rifle and a speech bubble with the words “America’s next!”

The leaflet also rehearses tropes about Islam’s “violent conquest” and contains verses from the Qur’an to validate the “conquest by sword” stereotype.

Insp Will O’Connor, neighbourhood policing inspector, confirmed the incendiary material had been seized. He said: “We have received complaints about leaflets delivered to several addresses in the north Aston area.

“We believe dozens of homes received these leaflets on Monday.

“The act has been recorded as a racially aggravated offence, namely distributing material intended to incite racial hatred.”

The incident follows the petrol bomb attackon a halal butcher’s shop in Walsall earlier this week.

The Labour Party today published the report by the Shami Chakrabarti Inquiry into anti-semitism, racism and Islamophobia.

The Inquiry, which was launched last month, set out to consult with Muslim, Jewish and other minority communities and Labour party members in order to establish a statement of principles and guidance about antisemitism and other forms of racism, including islamophobia; consult on guidance about the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and language; recommend clear and transparent compliance procedures for dealing with allegations of racism and antisemitism; look into training programmes for parliamentary candidates, MPs, councillors and others; make recommendations for changes to the code of conduct and party rules if necessary; and propose other action if needed, to ensure the Labour party is a welcoming environment for members of all communities.

The report concludes the party “is not overrun by antisemitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism” and sets forth a range of recommendations to improve complaints handling procedures and discourse on minorities to broaden minority representation in the party.

The report sets out 20 recommendations relating to language and behaviour, stereotyping, complaints procedures, transparency in the handling of complaints, training for party staff and the adoption of an Equal Opportunities Policy to boost minority representation within the party. The report rejects a “lifetime ban” on members who breach the party’s code of conduct and criticises the way in which some members were notified of their interim suspension pending investigation via the media. The report states Labour “should seek to uphold the strongest principles of natural justice…and resist subjecting members to a trial by media.”

The report also criticises the kneejerk adoption of interim suspension in recent weeks as undermining the principle of proportionality. The report urges the use of a “wide and creative range of sanctions” short of suspension and expulsion.

Among recommendations proposed in the report is the excising of terms such as “Paki”, “Zio” and other epithets from party discourse and the rejection of “racial or religious tropes and stereotypes about any group of people.”

On the subject of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, the report counsels “critics of the Israeli State and/or Government to use the term “Zionist” advisedly, carefully and never euphemistically or as part of personal abuse.”

In relation to many of the media reported scandals in recent months, invoking the Holocaust or Hitler, the report states: “Labour members should resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine in particular.”

It adds, “Excuse for, denial, approval or minimisation of the Holocaust and attempts to blur responsibility for it have no place in the Labour Party.”

The report makes sensible recommendations which give voice to the party’s wider compliance with the criminal law on incitement to racial and religious hatred and the Equality Act for example, in relation to “Critical and abusive reference to any particular person or group based on actual or perceived physical characteristics.”

The reports makes interesting observations on the “guilt by association” techniques adopted by some of tarnish the reputation of people in public office. The report considers “guilt by association” as “dangerous” and obstructive to “the kind of dialogue and debate that is the basis of peace, progress and greater understanding in the world.”

The report mentions claims of discriminatory treatment of ethnic minority members and the placing of local party associations under “special measures” for lengthy periods. Referring to reasons why “special measures” may have been applied in the past, the report highlights that modern banking and internet-based application processes can better assist in detecting fraudulent applications. “Large-scale recruitment from minority or any other communities is not to be regarded as suspect per se,” it adds.

The Croydon Advertiser reports on advice issued by the Muslim Association of Croydon telling Muslims to report hate crime after incidents of racist abuse directed at Muslim women in the south London borough.

Ashfaq Arain, general secretary of  the Muslim Association of Croydon said there has been reports of Muslim women being told to “go back home” and “leave the country” while going about their daily business since the Brexit result was declared last Friday.

Mr Arain told the local paper: “In the community we have heard of people being harassed while going to work and while going shopping since the referendum.

“Women are told to ‘go back home’ and told to leave and many of them have been born and bred in this country.

“Especially in the north of the borough as we have women who are not very good at communicating, as there is a language barrier, that has been the biggest problem that we as a community have faced.”

Mr Arain urged Muslims to report all incidents to the police or to speak to someone at their local mosque about reporting incidents via third party centres if they were reluctant to approach police stations directly.

“We don’t want them to suffer in isolation as they are at the moment as it can be a traumatic thing, especially if you are a woman and you are on your own. It’s important to let them know there is help out there,” he said.

Croydon Council cabinet member for communities, safety and justice, Hamida Ali, reinforced the message on reporting hate crimes to the police or third party reporting centres in the Borough.

She said: “It’s really important to have a better sense of what is happening in Croydon.

“Naturally as a Muslim woman myself I feel concerned. I think we would all feel concerned.”

The Burnley Express reports on the court appearance of a man who repeatedly abused a police officer and engaged in a drunken rant about Ramadan while being led away by police, offending local Pakistani residents in Burnley.

Ryan Gordon, 25, admitted racially aggravated harassment/ alarm/ distress on June 10. Burnley magistrates’ court heard Gordon had a previous conviction for a racial offence from 2012.

The court heard police officers attended to a reported disturbance at an address in Forrest Street, Burnley at around 10.45pm on 10 June after being flagged down by a member of the public.

When officers arrived at the address, Gordon was said to be “agitated” and officers tried to calm him down. A police bodycam was turned on to record Gordon’s drunken behaviour.

Another officer who assisted his colleague with trying to control Gordon and lead him to the police car was then verbally abused by Gordon who kicked off on a “rant about Ramadan”.

Prosecutor Alex Mann, said Gordon’s’“behaviour and language was directed mainly at the police officer.”

She said “Several people in the street were of Pakistani heritage. It’s Ramadan and it was around the time of breaking fast.”

Gordon then repeatedly abused the officer and several of the local people in the street were “clearly distressed and made complaints about it”, Mann said.

The officer, whose identity is not disclosed, had been with the force for nine years and said that while he had dealt with similar incidents in that time, “he had never had anybody continually call him such names”.

In mitigation for Gordon, Jasmine Basnyet said her client was drunk at the time and regretted his conduct. She told the court her client could not explain his behaviour on the day and put it down to “reduced tolerance” caused by his drinking.

Burnley magistrates’ court handed Gordon an 18 month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay £50 compensation and a £20 victim surcharge.

The Liverpool Echo and The Mirror report on the jailing of two brothers who racially abused a man and threatened him with a knife in front of his seven year old daughter.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the incident happened on 6 May 2016 outside Netherton Park Neighbourhood Centre in Bootle, Merseyside.

The court heard Michael and Ryan Size, twin brothers aged 18, confronted Sunil Chopra as he took his young daughter to an after school club.

Michael Size was arguing with his girlfriend when Mr Chopra looked in their direction.

Michael racially abused Mr Chopra calling out “What the f*** are you looking at, you n*****?” and “keep walking you p***, you skinny Arab”.

Mr Chopra said that as he walked on a gang appeared and Ryan Size pulled out a kitchen knife and threatened him saying “Speak to my brother like that again and I will slash you.”

Mr Chopra was abused by some of the other members of the gang and walked away in an effort to defuse the situation.

Prosecutor Kim Egerton told the court, “He couldn’t believe how disgusting they were, calling him racist names and doing it in front of his daughter.

“He found it difficult to believe there was a knife being brandished in public when there were children around.”

Mr Chopra told the court his daughter had moved school and no longer goes to the centre. He also said his distressed family are now looking to move house.

Michael Size admitted racially aggravated harassment and Ryan Size pleaded guilty to threatening with a knife and possessing cannabis.

Ryan was handed a 12 months’ jail sentence and Michael sentenced to eight months in prison.

The Yorkshire Post reports on revelations by Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Paula Sherriff about anti-Muslim leaflets circulating in West Yorkshire allegedly from the British National Party and accusing former MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox, of “misguided action” for helping Muslims.

Jo Cox was fatally shot and stabbed as she left a surgery meeting in her constituency on 16 June.

Ms Sherriff made the claims in a parliamentary debate in the Commons today about post-Brexit hate crimes that have been reported across the country. The MP for the West Yorkshire constituency said “Yesterday, people in my constituency received a leaflet from the BNP that said Jo Cox took misguided action by helping Muslims in the country who may now go on to join ISIS, alongside some other horrendous allegations”.

Ms Sherriff also told the House that she had received “a significant number” of communications from constituents about hate crime incidents in recent days. She mentioned the case of a seven year old Muslim girl and her family who faced offensive taunts, the expletives of which were not repeated in the House. The part of the message Ms Sherriff did read out was “best day ever – go home all of you”.

The MP reiterated her call for a cross party commission to consider race hate crimes.

Responding for the Government, Home Office minister Karen Bradley said she would like to meet to discuss “specific action to ensure such crimes are reported” but did not answer to the question about a cross party commission.

The London Evening Standard reports on the arrest of a 41 year old male in connection with “extreme” Islamophobic, right wing and anti-Semitic posts on social media.

The paper reports that officers from Scotland Yard’s Crime Disruption Unit, within the force’s Counter Terrorism Command, and Territorial Support Group swooped on addresses in north London at 6.30am this morning.

A spokesperson for the Met police said: “Detectives executed search warrants at two addresses, both in north London, as part of this investigation, which relates to social media postings of an extreme right wing, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic nature.

“Searches at one of the addresses are ongoing. A number of digital items have been seized at one of the properties.”

The man has been held on suspicion of inciting racial hatred.

The Leicester Mercury reports that two banners displaying details about the city’s Eid prayers and festival in Victoria Park have been defaced with racist graffiti.

The paper reports that officers received a call from a member of the public at around 7.30am this morning, 29 June, informing about the act of vandalism.

The banners, which were tied to the park’s railings, were removed by the officers. The banners had swastikas painted on them and the words “Islam,” “hate” and “lies”.

MP for Leicester South, Jon Ashworth, said: “These are disgusting racially aggravated incidents.

“We as a city live together, celebrate together and condemn racism together.

“I have spoken to the police about community leaders about these incidents.

“I would urge anyone who has any information about these incidents to contact the police as soon as possible.

“I would also urge people to report any racist attacks. This xenophobia and racism must be stamped out.”

Leicester police are treating the incident as a religious hate crime and are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to contact 101, quoting incident number 62 of June 29.

The Lincolnshire Echo reports on trial proceedings in the case of man accused of beating up a Muslim with his walking stick at a medical centre in Lincoln.

Gareth Dominic Williams, 47, was charged with racially aggravated assault and assaultby beating in connection with the incident which happened at Newland Medical Centre on 22 January. Williams denied the charges.

Lincoln Magistrates’ Court heard Abdul Siddiqui was at the centre with his wife and two young children, aged 3 and 5, for an appointment. As Mr Siddiqui and his family got into a lift to leave Mr Williams “forced” his way into the lift and allegedly began racially abusing him.

Mr Siddiqui told the court that when he said to Williams the lift was full, Williams responded saying “What are you going to do, are you going to blow me up?”

Williams allegedly called Mr Siddiqui an “Asian” and asked him “do you want to kill me?”

Mr Siddiqui claims Williams then hit him with his walking stick and continued with the abuse until the lift arrived at the ground floor when Mr Siddiqui called for help.

Mr Siddiqui told the court “This man was carrying a walking stick and he hit me in the tummy with it. The pain was serious and I couldn’t work for a week.”

His wife, Rubina, gave evidence in court from behind a screen saying “I heard the man say something like “would you blow me up” and he started hurting my husband.

“I’m from India and I think that some people have a negative thinking about people from distant countries.”

8765432Witness Kylie Hallam, who was at the health centre with her mother and son for an appointment, described to the court what she saw in the surgery reception area.

“I saw him smack the Asian guy on the top of his head with the stick,” she said.

“And I saw him poke him in the stomach with it four or five times.”

The trial hearing will resume on Tuesday, July 19 and Williams was granted unconditional bail until then.