Month: June 2014

Children as young as ten have been responsible for anti-Muslim abuse, a study has claimed.

The murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, pictured, magnified the possibility of far-right groups and others victimising Muslims, according to the report

The murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, pictured, magnified the possibility of far-right groups and others victimising Muslims, according to the report

It suggests that the Muslim community is facing abuse on a daily basis, with many of the attacks carried out by younger people.

And the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby ‘clearly magnified’ the possibility of far-right groups and others victimising Muslims, the study’s author has claimed.

The report found that there were 734 self-reported cases of anti-Islamic abuse between May 2013 and February this year – equivalent to more than two a day on average.

Researchers at the Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies at Teesside University, in Middlesbrough, used data collected over a ten month period by the Tell Mama (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) project.

Separate figures produced by Tell Mama were questioned a year ago when directors of the government-funded project said they had received more than 200 reports of Islamophobia in just over a week after the brutal murder.

It emerged that more than half of the incidents reported on the hotline related to offensive messages on Twitter, Facebook or online blogs, and only a tiny minority were physical attacks.

Nearly 600 of the incidents examined in the separate university study were online abuse and threats.

The rest were ‘offline’ attacks such as violence, spreading of anti-Muslim literature, threats and assaults.

Around 60 per cent of these ‘offline’ attacks are believed to have been carried out by individuals estimated to be aged between ten and 30.

The study also suggests that around two fifths of the cases recorded by Tell MAMA had a link to far-right groups.

It found that more than half of the victims reporting incidents to the project were women, while less than one in six of all of those who reported incidents also told the police.

Study author Dr Matthew Feldman, co-director of the Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies said: ‘Muslims remain among the most likely minority group in Britain to be targeted for a hate crime.

‘”Trigger” events like the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby clearly magnify the possibility of far-right groups and others victimising Muslims simply for who they are and what they believe.”

Nearly 600 cases of anti-Islamic abuse between May 2013 and February this year took place online, the report said (file picture)

Nearly 600 cases of anti-Islamic abuse between May 2013 and February this year took place online, the report said (file picture)


The report noted a spike in reported incidents in the wake of Fusilier Rigby’s murder in Woolwich, south east London on May 22 last year.

The soldier’s death sparked shock across the country after he was run over with a car and then hacked to death by British Muslim converts Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale.

In the week after the murder, there were 127 reported incidents, according to Tell Mama’s figures, while a total of 354 cases of anti-Muslim activity were reported in May and June last year.

A number of attacks received widespread coverage at the time alongside warnings from Tell Mama Project director Fiyaz Mughal of a ‘cycle of violence’ against Muslims which had led to ‘a sense of endemic fear’.

But while they included a petrol bomb attack on a mosque in Grimsby and another incident in Essex where a man entered a mosque armed with a knife, only 17 cases involved individuals being physically targeted, it was claimed in a Sunday newspaper at the time.

Six people had things thrown at them and most of the other 11 incidents related to attempts to rip off women’s headscarves or other items of Islamic dress.

More than half related to offensive or abusive messages on social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter.

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20-year-old man charged with terror offences

A 20-year-old man has today been charged with terror offences, the Metropolitan Police said.

Serbian student David Souaan, of Camden, north London, was charged with preparing for acts of terrorism under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006.

He has been remanded in custody to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on July 1.

Islamic extremism concerns at Tower Hamlets school

An east London primary school is at the centre of concerns over Islamic extremism, it has been revealed.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request by BBC London shows Tower Hamlets Council holds information concerning the possible Islamification of Kobi Nazrul Primary School in Whitechapel.

It follows the so-called Trojan Horse plot in Birmingham, in which some schools were the target of an alleged Islamic takeover plan.

One governor at the school is a member of Hitzb-ut-Tahir, the BBC has learned

One governor at the school is a member of Hitzb-ut-Tahir, the BBC has learned

Kobi Nazrul school is yet to comment.

The FoI request demanded details of alleged attempts to infiltrate any school by Islamic extremists in the borough, subvert the school’s teaching, or oversee the increasing Islamification of lessons.

Tower Hamlets confirmed it was in possession of relevant information, but refused to hand it over, claiming data protection rules may be breached by doing so.

In a statement, it said: “The council has received some information about a single school in the borough.

“The council does not propose to identify the school or produce the document it holds.”

However the BBC understands the information held by the council relates to Kobi Nazrul school.

“Start Quote

This is bound to increase anxiety about safeguarding and standards”

Rushanara AliMP for Bethnal Green and Bow

BBC London has also learned one of the governors, Mohammed Abdul ­Kuddus, is a member of the radical Islamist group Hitzb-ut-Tahir.

Successive prime ministers have considered banning the group, which has in the past infiltrated and recruited at universities.

It remains under “constant review” by the Home Office.

Mr Abdul Kuddus declined to comment.

Rushanara Ali, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, said: “Alarm bells had been raised by the local education authority six months ago – there has been a government failure to step in.

“Now it seems there is another dimension which is very concerning for parents.

SATs results

“This is bound to increase anxiety about safeguarding and standards.”

The school was already the subject of concern after a drop in standards.

An emergency Ofsted inspection was carried out after the school recorded the worst SATs results ever in the borough.

In 2012, 82% of children achieved the required results in maths and English.

The following summer that figure was down to 40%.

Former governor
Suroth Miah urged the school’s leadership to resign

Four governors at the school resigned.

One of them, Suroth Miah, said: “The focus for us is the learning, development, teaching standards and the management.

“The results of the last 18 months have not been good enough.

“This alone should influence the senior leadership to resign.”

Jamal Hussain, the parent of a child at the school, said: “For this school to have failed in such a dramatic way – parents are frustrated and angry as to what has happened.

“Start Quote

If we find evidence of extremism we will not hesitate to act”

Department for Education

“We asked the governors why our school is failing, but we don’t have an answer.”

The vast majority of pupils at the school are Bangladeshi. Nearly all speak English as a second language.

Robert McCulloch-Graham, Tower Hamlets Council’s director of education, said: “This council has an excellent track record of transforming underperforming schools and of taking tough action when the school does not cooperate.

“With our support we fully expect Kobi Nazrul to return quickly to the excellent school it was two years ago.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Ofsted recently carried out an inspection at Kobi Nazrul school due to concerns about SATs test results. We await the results with interest.

“If there are allegations of extremism in any school, we will investigate them.

“If we find evidence of extremism we will not hesitate to act, as we have done in Birmingham.”

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Four men questioned over slavery and kidnap charges

The men are being questioned at Ystrad Mynach police station

Four people remain in custody after being arrested on slavery and kidnap charges spanning a period of 26 years.

Homes in the Rumney area of Cardiff and Bristol were raided by police on Monday morning.

Four men from Rumney, aged 57, 37, 34 and 33, are being held at Ystrad Mynach police station.

The alleged slavery offences relate to two men, who police said were safe and being supported by officers.

Three men – aged 57, 37 and 33 – were held on suspicion of knowingly or conspiring to hold a person in slavery, servitude or requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour, kidnap, false imprisonment and assault.

A fourth man, 34, was arrested on suspicion of knowingly or conspiring to hold a person in slavery, servitude or requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour and assault.

A Gwent Police spokeswoman said the four arrests related to two alleged victims, who were not recovered from the addresses raided.

‘Extremely serious’

The arrests were made by officers working on Gwent Police’s anti-slavery Operation Imperial.

South Wales Police and Avon and Somerset Police were also involved in Monday’s operation, as warrants were executed at five addresses in the Cardiff and Bristol area.

councillor Jacqueline Parry
Councillor Jacqueline Parry said the community would be ‘shocked’ by the arrests

Det Supt Paul Griffiths, who leads Operation Imperial, said: “All four arrests relate to two victims, both men, who are being supported by specially trained officers. The alleged offences we are investigating are extremely serious.

“Allegations from one of the victims cover slavery, servitude and forced labour and span a period of 26 years. Allegations from the other victim cover kidnap, false imprisonment and assault and span a lesser timeframe.

“Anyone with any information that could help is asked to call the Imperial team directly by dialling 01633 647174.

“Alternatively, if someone has information and would rather not pass this directly to the police then I would urge them to contact Crimestoppers, which is independent of the police and guarantees complete anonymity on 0800 555111.”

Jacqueline Parry, a local councillor from Rumney said: “There will be absolute shock (over the arrests).

“You do not expect it in a suburban area, an area where people know each other, where there are communities.”

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Man arrested after racist incident in Lowestoft

A man has been arrested following a racially aggravated incident in Lowestoft.

The incident happened at about 3.40am on Saturday in London Street North.

A 25-year-old man was walking home along the road when he saw three men walking towards him down Stanley Street, near to the Katwijck Way junction.

Believing the three men were acting suspiciously the man stopped and asked the men what they were doing at which point he was verbally racially abused by one of the men.

All three men then walked into Bevan Street West where two of the men collected bicycles and rode off.

Police have arrested a 22 year old man from Lowestoft in connection with this incident. He has been released on bail pending further enquiries.

He is due to return to the Great Yarmouth Police Investigation Centre on July 21.


Iraq crisis: What does the Isis caliphate mean for global jihadism?

Isis have effectively declared themselves the winner in a global race between jihadist and Islamist groups

A major development in jihadist history occurred this weekend as the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) declared the re-establishment of the caliphate with their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared its leader. This step, while easily dismissed by non-jihadists as little more than a publicity stunt, carries huge significance for committed jihadists and has the potential to shape the future of the global jihadist movement.

The central aim of all Islamist movements from their earliest inception was to re-establish the caliphate, which they understood as a panacea to every ill affecting Muslims around the world. It was believed that it would help restore Muslim pride and provide Muslims with the unity they needed to defend territory from European invaders. The last caliphate was the Ottoman Empire which collapsed in the early 1920s, to be replaced by nation states and the secular modern-day Turkey.

Modern-day jihadism of the kind represented by groups like al-Qa’ida and Isis emerged from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s first Islamist group that dates back to the late-1920s in Egypt. The many Islamist and jihadist groups that emerged as offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood since the late-1920s have all been engaged in a struggle to overthrow Muslim-majority governments in order to establish a theocratic state, which they refer to as the caliphate, ruled by a single divinely appointed leader.

However, the state that these groups want to create bears little resemblance to its most recent forebear, the Ottoman Empire. Indeed, it has much more in common with European totalitarian states of the last century or North Korea today. This is because, over the last century, Islamist movements absorbed European political ideas and merged their politicised understanding of Islam with ideologies like communism and fascism. The result is theocratic totalitarianism, something which jihadists are now seeking to enforce through militancy.

The significance of Isis being the first jihadist group to announce the establishment of a caliphate is deeply important: they have effectively declared themselves the winner in a global race between jihadist and Islamist groups. They have, in their own eyes, declared themselves the only game in town and ruled that other jihadist groups are now defunct. As such, all jihadists are now expected to pledge allegiance to al-Baghdadi, something that, if it happened, would make Isis the centre of gravity, the only jihadist group that matters.


This creates a real conundrum for al-Qa’ida which, prior to Isis taking large swathes of Iraqi territory, was widely regarded as the leader of global jihadism. Will al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri now pledge allegiance to Isis, as his ideological beliefs compel him to do? Or will he rebel and be declared an enemy of the caliphate, a fate punishable by death? What about al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Tehreek-e-Taliban or al-Qaeda affiliates in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) or in the Islamic Maghrib (AQIM)? If some pledge allegiance and others don’t, will that lead to a split in the global jihadist movement and a “civil war”-like scenario between them?

Furthermore, what about western jihadist sympathisers like the followers of Hizb ut Tahrir (HT) or al-Muhajiroun? Will they now up sticks and move to Iraq to live in the caliphate that they have long been dreaming of? Or will they make excuses, dismissing it as premature because it does not conform to their highly idealised understanding of what the caliphate should look like? Well, given that the former HT leader and current spiritual leader of al-Muhajiroun, Omar Bakri, is seeking asylum in the UK from Lebanon just as the caliphate is being established next door in Syria and Iraq, it seems that they are more likely to opt for the latter and continue to agitate for a caliphate from the comfort of North London

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Not all Muslims are jihadists – Sharif Nashashibi

One would be forgiven for thinking there is an exodus of British Muslims going to fight in the Middle East. This is far from reality
'Brits think Muslims make up 24% of the population, when the real percentage is about 5%.'

‘Brits think Muslims make up 24% of the population, when the real percentage is about 5%.’ Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Since the militarisation of the Syrian revolution, there has been much reporting in the UK of British Muslims going to fight in Syria and now Iraq. The recent spike in coverage follows the publication of a video by Isis, in which three British Muslims appeal for others to join their cause.

Of course jihadism arouses domestic alarm, particularly given the very real possibility of British Muslims returning radicalised and battle-hardened, and given the risk of them carrying out deadly attacks in the UK. The extent of media coverage is largely a reflection of such concerns, but it also gives the impression that the problem is far more widespread than it actually is.

Given the attention, one would be forgiven for thinking there is an exodus of British Muslims going to fight in the Middle East. This is far from reality, however. The government puts the number at about 500 – that constitutes less than 0.02% of the 2.7 million Muslims in this country. Inadvertently or otherwise, the pervasiveness of such media coverage has a strong and negative influence on British public perceptions of Muslims.

Prof Matthew Goodwin, a member of the cross-government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred, said: “Every survey that I have run, and surveys run by my academic colleagues, makes it quite clear that a significant proportion of the British population hold negative views of Islam, and by extension British Muslim communities.”

For example, a poll last year revealed that 60% of 18- to 24-year-olds in Britain thought the public had a negative image of Muslims, while 44% said Muslims did not share the same values as the rest of the population. More than a quarter distrusted Muslims, believed Britain would be better off with fewer of them, and thought Islam was not a peaceful religion. Less than a third believed Muslims were doing enough to tackle extremism.

A reaction to such negative perceptions is the constant need to reassure the public that the vast majority of British Muslims are “decent, law-abiding citizens”. For example, words to that effect were repeated ad nauseam on the BBC’s Question Time last week.

It should be a given that British Muslims are decent and law-abiding. The intention behind pointing this out is good, but the result is patronising. The majority of every religious community in Britain is decent and law-abiding, but it is only Muslims about which constant reassurances need to be given.

Misleading public perceptions around the niqab (a face veil revealing only the eyes) and the burqa (full-body cover) also give the impression that the number of women in Britain who wear these garments is far higher than it is. Statistics for Britain are hard to come by, but those available for other European countries – such as BelgiumDenmark, France, the Netherlands and Sweden – show how few Muslim women wear either garment. Nevertheless, hardly a week goes by without media coverage of Muslim female dress in Britain.

The abundance of reporting on Muslims also contributes to the impression that they represent a far higher proportion of the total British population than they do. According to an Ipsos Mori poll last year, Brits think Muslims make up 24% of the population, when the real percentage is about 5%.

Similarly, “the public think that 31% of the population are immigrants, when the official figures are 13%,” Ipsos Mori wrote. This is hardly surprising given the amount of coverage of immigration.

It is natural that issues of national interest and concern – such as radicalisation, security and immigration – garner media attention. However, when covering such highly emotive topics, there should be an awareness that the media can be as powerful a tool to misinform – intentionally or otherwise, whether by the type or volume of content – as it can be to educate.