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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.

The Torquay Herald Express reports on the guilty plea of a woman who committed a racist offence against a male victim outside a Muslim-owned restaurant in Teignmouth.

Candice Ann Graham, 35, pleaded guilty to threatening the victim with racially aggravated words or behaviour with an intent to cause him to believe that immediate unlawful violence would be used following an incident outside Naz Restaurant on 23 November 2016.

Graham pleaded guilty at Torquay Magistrates Court this week. She was granted unconditional bail until 20 February while pre-sentence reports are prepared.

The Manchester Evening News reports on the jailing of a man who subjected a fellow passenger to “vile and disgusting racist abuse” on a bus in Salford last year.

Jamie McMillan, 29, had been returning from seeing his ailing grandfather in hospital when he launched the shocking rant which was captured on camera. McMillan was arrested after the footage was uploaded to social media.

The abuse occurred at around 7:30pm on 18 June 2016, on a bus heading towards Salford.

McMillan pleaded guilty to two public order offences of racially aggravated provocation of violence when he appeared at Salford Magistrates’ court in January.

Prosecutor Eileen Rogers told the court McMillan began shouting at an “African” passenger saying “People like you and your scrotey family coming over and paying no tax”.

He then threatened the man, ordering him to get off the bus, and telling him he would “bounce this can off your head”.

The abuse then became more vulgar with McMillan shouting “Otherwise I’m gonna drag you to Hope Hospital, dirty little black ****, and make your family pay the f****** bills to keep my grandad alive.”

The victim was forced off the bus as McMillan followed him down the stairs. McMillan then went back up to the top deck while ranting on his phone, saying there were “n****** on the bus”. 

McMillan then returned downstairs and appears in footage next to the driver’s cab stamping on the floor, shouting “Daesh. Bang! Islam. Bang!”.

The driver kicked McMillan off the bus and explained to passengers that she been instructed by the operator to get to Salford, and then call the police.

The M.E.N reported that footage of the abuse had been shared over half a million times.

Suzanne Ludlow, defending McMillan, said her client had been in a “very dark place” due to deteriorating mental health. She said McMillan had become “embroiled in a family row” after visiting his grandfather at Salford Royal Hospital and had drunk “four or five cans of beer which combined badly with his medication”.

McMillan’s grandfather died six days after he visited him. The court heard that McMillan was made aware at the funeral that the footage of his rant was online. McMillan handed himself in to police after being made aware of the footage. 

The paper reports McMillan said he ‘blacked out and had no memory of the incident’. He admitted he woke up the next day ‘knowing I’d done something bad but I didn’t know what’.

Ms Ludlow told the court, “He accepts his behaviour was completely unacceptable and very upsetting.”

Magistrates sentenced McMillan to 30 weeks in jail. He was given 24 weeks for the racially aggravated offences and a further 6 weeks for activating a prior suspended sentence in connection with offences committed last year.

Chairman of the bench Pauline Sailsbury told the court, “Me and my colleagues have looked at this matter very carefully and we believe it was so horrendous that there is only one sentence that is appropriate and that is custody.”

Greater Manchester Police’s Superintendent Chris Allsop described McMillan’s behaviour as “abhorrent”. He said: “GMP is committed to taking a stand against hatred and discrimination and I believe this case shows just that.

“The message is clear – we do not and will not ever tolerate hate incidents and hate crimes in Greater Manchester.”

 

Local news site Citiblog reports on hate crime awareness materials produced by students in Luton that are to be used by Bedfordshire Police in their poster campaign encouraging victims to report hate crime.

Students from Stockwood Park Academy in Luton won a Bedfordshire-wide competition held for schools that attended the Hate Crime Youth Conference in 2016. Chalk Hills Academy and Lea Manor High School were runners up in the competition.

The materials produced by pupils are aimed at promoting hate crime reporting among the five ‘prominent categories’ – race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

The students will see their designs exhibited on posters across the county. Leaflets have already started being distributed to organisations and local residents.

Bedfordshire Police Hate Crime Sargeant James Hart praised the pupils’ “creativity and thought”. He said, “It’s been a privilege working with the youngsters from Stockwood Academy on this project and it’s clear they really want to make a difference in their school; they have also started working with the local community in order to increase awareness of hate crime and discrimination.”

He also highlighted how important it was for young people to become educated on hate crime and said the project was about “empowering students to talk about hostility based on someone’s appearance or beliefs and providing them with skills to challenge such behaviour in an effective manner.”

Taj Hussain, Stockwood Park’s Community Cohesion Manager, explained how the school had developed partnerships with organisations on tackling hate crime. “The students are now hate crime ambassadors for the school operating under the name ‘Strength’ and have already started working on awareness initiatives,” he said.

“This all stems from our partnership work with Bedfordshire Police, including the Hate Crime Conference and the Anne Frank Ambassador programme. These projects were brilliant and made the young people think about their responsibilities on issues such as prejudice and discrimination,” he added.