Monthly Archives: February 2017

ITV News and Chronicle Live report a story of a man who has been fined £250 for wearing a racially offensive t-shirt which displayed an anti-refugee image in a Newcastle shopping centre.

Peter Hunt, 44, pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence for wearing the derogatory t-shirt at Eldon Square in July 2016.

Following a general increase in hate crime across the North-East, Northumbria Police have warned those who commit hate crimes that they intend to track them down, and bring them to justice. 

DCI Deborah Alderson, from the Safeguarding Department at Northumbria Police said: “The important thing to highlight about this case is that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated either by the community here or by Northumbria Police”.

“Targeting refugees in this manner” she continued, “is a hate crime which is never acceptable and offenders will be pursued and prosecuted”. 

The Evening Standard reports on the jailing of a white supremacist who “idolised Hitler” and posted “racist, Islamophobic, homophobic and anti-Semitic calls to arms on social media”.

Sean Creighton, 45, posted an image of Hitler online with the message “kill the Muslims”.

He possessed an electronic document entitled “White Resistance Manual 2.4” which contained details of shotguns, improvised weapons and explosives, and harassment.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford told Kingston Crown Court, “The defendant was a committed racist, a member of the National Front”.

He told the court the document Creighton possessed was “a complete guide on how to prepare for and conduct a terrorist campaign”.

Creighton, from Enfield, had also posted an image of a gun alongside a Swastika with the words, “Jews prepare to die”.

The court heard that he had posted content on social media to almost 700 followers but believed no harm was done as “he was contacting people who had similar views”.

Creighton pleaded guilty to eight charges in total, including a terror-related charge of collecting information which could be useful to someone committing or preparing an act of terrorism. 

He pleaded guilty to six counts of publishing or distributing materials likely to stir up racial hatred and a further count of possessing racially inflammatory materials.

Creighton was jailed for five years.

The Mirror and The Courier both report on the case of three men who admitted attacking Muslim takeaway staff in Fife following terror attacks in Paris in November 2015.

Robbie Smart, 18, Connor Crombie, 19, and Darren Macduff, 18, pleaded guilty to attacking store owner Mohammed Khalid and employee Mohammed Nadeem outside the Caspian fast food takeaway in Methil, Fife.

The trio were cleared of behaving in a ‘racially aggravated manner intended to cause alarm and distress’ however, alongside four others – Kyle Campbell, 19, Sean Wood, 20, Brandon Munro, 18, and a 17-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The group previously appeared at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court in July to enter pleas, while the trial was delayed in December after prosecutors failed to retrieve all the CCTV footage available from the shop 

Khalid, 53 and Nadeem, 35, were kicked and punched in the attack, which occurred while they were closing the shop on 15 November 2015. Khalid suffered a serious facial injury during the assault and said some who attacked him had been “shouting about ISIS”. 

The court was shown CCTV footage of the “large scale disturbance”, which occurred the day after attacks in Paris killed over 100 people.

Sentencing of the three guilty men was deferred by Sheriff James Williamson until next month in order for social work background reports to be completed.

Khalid closed the takeaway last year after 25 years, citing fears of safety for himself and his family. He told the Daily Record, “I thought I could return, but the nightmares and flashbacks have just been too much for me to handle. I don’t feel safe there anymore.” 

STV News reported on 20 March that Campbell, Wood and Munro were given community payback orders by Sheriff James Williamson. They were ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid community work over the next nine months.’

 

 

The Burnley Express reports on a woman who has been fined for hurling racist abuse at a Muslim taxi driver and assaulting a police officer following a night out in Burnley.

Jessica Horne, 26, insulted taxi driver Fiyaz Ahmed “20 times” and spat at him during a rant at a taxi office in Church Street, Burnley on January 22.

Burnley Magistrates court heard Ms Horne and her then partner, Daniel Atkinson, 28, had been out drinking when Ms Horne went into the taxi office at 5.30am seeking a ride home. The court heard Ms Horne was told the fare charge would be £5 when she began uttering racist abuse. 

The court was told Ms Horne repeatedly abused Mr Ahmed before spitting on him. When police were called to the cab office where Mr Ahmed works, Ms Horne carried on her attack and made offensive comments to PC Ivan Brown, who is of mixed ethnicity.

Ms Horne continued being abusive as she was transported to the police station where she “booted” PC Brown in the shin while in the custody suite leaving him “gashed and in pain”. Her tirade lasted “40 minutes” the court was told.

Horne, who cares for dementia sufferers, expressed remorse for her actions saying she had a limited recollection of events due to her intoxication. The court heard Ms Horne had been “extremely remorseful, sorry and tearful during her police interview”.

Keith Rennison, defending Horne, told the court that his client was something of a “binge drinker” who has tried to curtail her intake of alcohol since the incident.

He said, “She has referred herself to her GP as a result of these offences and she has been prescribed anti-depressant medication. It’s allowed her to keep working, which is something she is keen to do.” 

Deborah Morgan, representing Atkinson, said he was “similarly disgusted with his behaviour” but “wasn’t involved in any of the language Miss Horne was using”. She said he had his coat with his phone and wallet stolen in a nightclub and was trying to get a taxi home which he meant to pay for the following day.

District Judge Alexandra Simmonds told Horne her behaviour had been “absolutely appalling.”

She said, “These are serious offences because of how long the incident went on for.” 

Horne admitted racially aggravated harassment, racially aggravated common assault and assaulting a police officer. She was sentenced to a community order with a 12-week curfew preventing her from being out in public between 9pm and 7am. She was also ordered to pay £200 compensation, £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge. 

Atkinson pleaded guilty to damaging a Vauxhall Zafira and being drunk and disorderly. He was fined £300 and ordered to pay £50 compensation, £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

 

 

 

The Mirror reports that UKIP’s immigration spokesman, John Bickley, has been “slammed for retweeting an outrageous cartoon” which echoed 1960s racism by using a political slogan not dissimilar to that used in the notorious Smethwick by-election in 1964.

Bickley retweeted a cartoon featuring the slogan “If you want a jihadi for a neighbour, vote Labour” which was originally posted on a Twitter account run by David Jones. The Guardian notes the Jones account “regularly shares anti-Muslim and far right memes”. 

The image used in the cartoon is an edited version of one originally produced in August 2015 by The Times’ cartoonist Peter Brookes. It featured people “clambering into a lorry with the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, in the driver’s seat, with one sitting on top of the vehicle waving a communist flag”. The cartoon was produced at the height of Europe’s refugee crisis with the figures on the lorry depicting refugees and migrants.

The image retweeted by Bickley edited out the cartoon’s original title, ‘Entryism’, and removed the communist flag. 

The cartoon’s slogan bore resemblance to the shocking phrase used during the 1964 Smethwick by-election campaign – “If you want a n***** for a neighbour, vote Labour”. Peter Griffiths, the Conservative candidate and winner of the by-election, refused to condemn the phrase, saying he regarded it as “a manifestation of popular feeling”. 

Bickley later apologised “for any offence caused”. He told the Huffington Post in a statement: “Yesterday I retweeted a cartoon about the potential consequences of Labour’s support for uncontrolled immigration without realising it relied on a rhyme that had been used in an election in 1964 in a racially abusive context. I have since deleted the retweet and apologise for any offence caused.”

Labour politicians including John Spellar, MP for Warley, and MEP Seb Dance called for Bickley to be sacked. Dance referenced the “disgusting Smethwick 1964 slogan” and said the episode reflected the “true face of UKIP”.

UKIP’s top brass refused to condemn Bickley. UKIP leader Paul Nuttall, who is contesting the Stoke-on-Trent by-election next week, defended Bickley’s “lack of understanding” and said, “He’s got my support, absolutely, he’s apologised for it.” 

When political correspondent Robert Peston tweeted a message asking whether Bickley’s actions were acceptable to UKIP, the party’s principal donor, Arron Banks, responded “Seems eminently accurate to me”.

The incident is the latest in a long line of abusive posts against Muslims perpetrated or supported by UKIP representatives and candidates over the years. Back in July 2016, the Loughborough Echo reported on an investigation launched by the party after a number of anti-Muslim posts on a Facebook page purportedly belonging to a Ukip councillor on Shepshed Town council, Timothy Paul Hicks, were found. A number of posts with “tasteless captions aimed at the Muslim faith” were found on the page of an individual named Tim Paul Hicks, prompting a probe by UKIP’s Charnwood branch.

In Caerphilly, Bobby Douglas was prevented from standing in the Bedwas, Trethomas and Machen council by-election in September 2015 after a number of offensive comments against Muslims and migrants were discovered on his Facebook profile. 

Steve Latham, who stood as the party’s candidate for West Bromwich East in the 2015 General Election, was banned from future elections after making a number of comments on his Facebook page, including statements that Islam was an “evil cult” which had “infiltrated the Labour Party”, and that “European integration amounts to genocide”.

 

 

A story on the MailOnline website at the weekend reporting on the announcement that Debenhams will sell hijabs as part of a new range of Muslim clothing to be launched in its stores from May, itself became a story after readers posted numerous comments online criticising the department store and calling for a ‘boycott’.

The new range of clothing, including hijabs, tops, dresses, jumpsuits, kimono wraps, hijab pins and caps, will be sold at five of its stores across the country. Aab, an international brand which sells ‘contemporary modest wear’ for women, will open an outlet inside Debenhams’ central London store on Oxford Street.

The Mail Online reported other stores which will stock the new range as Birmingham’s Bullring, Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush, Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Leicester’s Highcross Shopping Centre. All the cities have large ethnic minority populations.

The roll-out of the Aab brand in Debenhams’ UK stores coincides with an international launch at Debenhams’ branches across the Middle East and Asia, including in Dubai, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iran, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Jeanette Whithear, international trading director for Debenhams, said the new collection would be “highly relevant” and “cater for broader customer needs”.

She said the addition of the Aab range “enables us to offer collections that are highly relevant in both international markets and to our domestic customers.”

Aab founder Nazmin Alim was enthusiastic about the opportunities saying the partnership “opens up some very exciting opportunities for us. Debenhams is a quintessentially British department store and among the few department store brands with a truly global reach. 

While Debenhams is not the first UK department store to sell hijabs or clothing aimed at Muslim customers, the announcement nevertheless elicited a mixed, and prolific response in the online sphere. The MailOnline article attracted 1,400 comments from readers with some ‘losing their minds’  while others attempted to interject some perspective.

One reader, named ‘null’ simply wrote “Boycott!” while ‘JonnyC’ wrote “I never shop at Debenhams anyway but even more so now”. Others who were more circumspect included ‘carmelthecat’ who wrote, “There are plenty of shops in my area selling these goods. So what? You don’t have to buy them or enter the shops….Take your choice.” 

‘Second city’ from Birmingham commended the store saying, “It’s a good idea diversity is a good thing. People need to relax and stop getting upset over it.” ‘Hailstar81’ praised Debenhams strategy. “Fair enough, bringing in an international concession that provides attire to a certain section of the market is actually a very good business strategy!..I don’t understand why anyone has a problem with this.”

The Indy100 reported that the hysteria was not solely confined to the Daily Mail’s comments section, with activity also noted in the Twitter sphere. In an article titled ‘Debenhams is selling hijabs and bigots are losing their minds’, the news site posted a number of Twitter reactions to the story.

Among them was a tweet from ‘Yeeha’ who apparently sent Debenhams a letter of complaint while ‘Mart31’ called the store a “disgrace” and said he would “push for a petition”.

A tweet from ‘Karla McKarlaFace’ summed up the over-reaction by addressing those who were “up in arms that Debenhams is going to sell hijab”. She commented, “They’ve been selling them for decades, you utter morons, just called scarves.”

 

 

The Lancashire Telegraph reports on the trial of a decorator who was found guilty of daubing racist abuse and drawing a pig’s head on the walls of a Muslim homeowner’s property in Blackburn.

The paper reports Stephen Gary Oliver, 54, drew the offending images and then papered over the markings as he  carried out a decorating job.

Blackburn Magistrates Court heard that Wajid Hussain had arranged for Oliver to decorate part of his home in Montague Street, but that a dispute later developed over payment.

Enza Geldard, prosecuting, told the court: “The defendant then wrote on the walls in permanent marker various racist remarks and a picture of a pig’s head.”

Due to the “poor quality workmanship” Mr Hussain peeled off the wallpaper and discovered the offensive material.

Mrs Geldard told the court, “When the words and picture became visible Mr Hussain reported the matter to the police.”

Ian Huggan, defending Oliver, claimed the problem with the work was “due to the temperature in the room which meant things weren’t drying”. He said Mr Hussain wanted Oliver “to do more work but for the original price”. 

Huggan said his client “foolishly wrote and drew the things you have heard about and then tried to cover them up. It was extremely foolish and he knows he shouldn’t have done it.”

Oliver pleaded guilty to racially aggravated criminal damage. He was fined £80 and order to pay £140 compensation to Mr Hussain, as well as £85 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

 

 The Courier reports on the community order handed to a man who abused his Muslim convert stepfather via Facebook’s messaging system and telling him to “go and eat bacon”.

Dean McAndrew, 28, pleaded guilty in December to using a public communications network to send grossly offensive or indecent, obscene or menacing messages with racially and religiously offensive content to Christopher McAndrew and threatening him with violence.

Forfar Sheriff court heard Dean McAndrew, from Dundee, had contacted his stepfather, Christopher McAndrew, from Arbroath, via Facebook’s messaging system and engaged in a “religiously and racially offensive” tirade.

The court, in an earlier hearing, was told Christopher McAndrew was in the process of converting to Islam and had completed paperwork to change his name.

Mr McAndrew senior was “giving advice” to the defendant on 5 November, the day before the incident. Depute fiscal Stewart Duncan said the younger McAndrew had been “having some difficulties” in the weeks leading up to the conversation.

On the evening of 6 November, Dean McAndrew contacted his stepfather using Facebook Messenger telling him to “go and eat some bacon”. The court heard the defendant also described the victim as “black” and “used an obscenity”. 

Depute fiscal Stewart Duncan said McAndrew wrote: “Even better, go to the mosque with your package, boom you’re dead.”

Sentencing had previously been deferred for social work reports to be completed, with bail granted on the condition Dean McAndrew did not contact his stepfather.

Appearing in court this week Sheriff Pino Di Emidio told McAndrew, “It is simply unacceptable. I understand you were very much out of order in expressing yourself in such offensive terms.”

McAndrew was sentenced to a community order with the requirement to carry out 80 hours unpaid work.

Local news website London News Online reports on an initiative launched by Queen’s Park Rangers football club to tackle hate crime and abuse in West London.

The site reports that the club’s project follows rising concerns over racist abuse in the area. A Muslim woman was reportedly spat on as she ate with friends at a fish and chip shop in Hammersmith last month while a man was convicted in the same week for distributing “vile anti-Islam propagandaaround a Fulham park”.

The recent incidents follow last year’s graffiti and xenophobic criminal damage incident at the Polish Social and Cultural Association building in Hammersmith. The police have lately released CCTV images of a suspect sought in connection with the incident.

QPR football club is now planning to team up with local teachers to tackle abuse by running anti-racism workshops as part of its ‘Stop the Hate’ programme.

Coaches from the club’s community trust will be working with Show Racism the Red Card tutors to provide the educational workshops at five schools close to the club’s Loftus Road football ground in Shepherd’s Bush.

The classes, which are supported by the local council and the National Union of Teachers, will also see pupils pay a special visit to the football ground as an incentive.

Steve Goodsell, from Show Racism the Red Card, said “Our joint ‘Stop the Hate’ educational initiative is truly innovative and will play a part in promoting community cohesion in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and in keeping children safe.”

Mark Hopper, from the NUT, said schools had a “huge part to play in empowering children and young people to recognise prejudice and racism” by providing them with the tools to “stand up against discrimination in all its forms”.

Hammersmith and Fulham council has announced that it will be staging another Unity Day event following last year’s trial event at Ravenscourt Park which saw “thousands of residents turn out with placards and banners decrying racism and discrimination”.

Local news sources, Lancashire Telegraph and BlogPreston, report on two suspected hate incidents at the Jamea mosque on Clarendon Street in Preston last week. 

BlogPreston, which has been passed CCTV footage of the alleged incidents reports that on the evening of Wednesday 8 February, “a group of three teenagers are said to have hit the door of the mosque with a metal bar and shouted ‘immigrants out’”.

In another incident in the late afternoon of Thursday, February 9 an elderly man had rocks thrown at him outside the mosque.

Police Inspector Dave Britton confirmed an incident report stating, “A group of people were racially abusing people at the mosque, throwing rocks at a caretaker before running off towards Manchester Road.”

A police spokesman quoted on BlogPreston said the incidents were being treated as hate crimes. She said: “We attended two incidents. The first saw three female offenders involved, with one throwing a brick at the mosque.

“A second incident saw a teenage girl throw a stone at the mosque and shouted abusive language at a man.”

BlogPreston posted an entry highlighting concerns raised by a member of the mosque who wished to remain anonymous. The individual told the blog: “This behaviour is not typical of Preston. It is very worrying and concerning. We are working with the authorities to have these people identified.”

Anyone with information is urged to call Lancashire Police on 101 quoting incident reference numbers SA1701903 and SA1701962.