Pegida – A Snapshot into their Protectionist World of German Culture & Ardent Xenophobia

In 2016, intelligence services estimated that there were just over 23,000 right-wing extremists in Germany. A myriad of groups networking covertly, utilizing social media to extreme effect, was sowing major social discord. Germany has in modern times been regarded by the rest as immune to the reach of the far-right, partly out of collective shame for Nazism. The country had seen where hate led and would not saunter down that path again.


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Pegida – The Rise of the Far Right in Germany


But today, the country exists as a hotbed of far-right extremism. The proliferation of populist, racist movements has caught many within its political class off guard. One such group is Pegida.

The movement caught on fire in late 2014 through to early 2015, whipping up mass anger around immigration. The organisation threatened Germany’s long held social cohesion, fracturing it in the backwaters of east Germany where anti-immigration attitudes had been rapidly bubbling for a while. Pegida’s aim was to force into the national conversation the concept of a national cultural identity being threatened by refugees and asylum seekers. It was dangerous, but for a while, it was effective. The group came to influence the political system, and particularly, the part Alternative for Germany (AfD). This report will look into their tumultuous history, their peak moments, setbacks, controversies and structural reasons for why they were as popular as they were.

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Categories: Germany, News, Pegida

‘No P*kis’ scratched into car bonnet in Peterborough

A Muslim man awoke on Tuesday morning to discover that someone in their neighbourhood has scratched the racist phrase “No P*kis” into their car bonnet.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, he condemned the “unnecessary” and “cowardly” act.

Cambridgeshire Police investigated the racist incident, reported on May 14, but closed the case, citing “no lines of enquiry”.

He added that this was the first time he had experienced such racism in his area.

The racialisation of Muslims, has, according to some shifted from traditional understandings of race and racism, and into a form of understanding where South Asian identity has foregrounded conceptions of “The Muslim” identity, despite the racial diversity of Muslim communities in England and Wales.

Tell MAMA continues to argue that any understanding of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred must be grounded in a deeper understanding of intersectionality, racialisation, and cultural racism, given how Muslims, irrespective of ethnicity, are subjected to a variety of racial slurs.

An explanation for this concerns how Muslims are ‘othered’ by sections of society, deemed outsiders, who are deemed to be “incompatible” with the UK on grounds of identity, culture, and security.

One in ten cases reported to Tell MAMA in the 2017 reporting cycle concerned vandalism.

You can get advice from our confidential and free helpline on 0800 456 1226. Or through our free iOS or Android apps. Report through our online form. Or contact us via WhatsApp on 0734 184 6086.

 

 

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Categories: hate crime, News

Terror Accused Shared Virgins of Paradise Song, Court Told

A Cardiff man has gone on trial accused of sharing a terrorist song entitled Virgins Of Paradise.

Zakaria Afey, 20, from St Mellons, allegedly disseminated the nasheed poem on January 12 2017.

He is also accused of having the terrorist manual How To Survive In The West on May 15 2017.

Opening his trial, prosecutor Michael Bisgrove said: “This is a case about dissemination and the possession of a terrorist manual.

“It is not bombs or bullets or knives, it’s electronic material, the kind that is used with frightening effect to indoctrinate and train predominantly young men who go on to commit acts that are becoming all too familiar.

“The defendant is charged with two offences, both relate to documents discovered when Mr Afey’s phone was seized and interrogated.

“The majority of the evidence comes directly from his phone handset.”

Mr Bisgrove told jurors the manual allegedly found on the defendant’s phone could be used to train would-be terrorists on “how to commit acts of terror and how to remain undetected while living in the West”.

The prosecutor went on to describe how the defendant’s Samsung Galaxy was seized after a search of his home in October 2017.

Afey confirmed it was his and handed over the password to the handset, asking if the search was related to terrorism, the Old Bailey heard.

He allegedly told officers he was “interested in my religion” and read a lot but did “not support terrorism in any way”.

He expressed concern they might find something but insisted he only wanted to understand all the aspects of his religion.

The defendant denies the charges against him and the trial continues

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Categories: Cardiff, Nasheed, News, Religion, Zakaria Afey

Muslim woman in niqab told “there was no need for al-Qaeda in the area”

A group of teenagers threatened a Muslim woman in a niqab and told her she was “not welcome” and that “there was no need for al-Qaeda in the area” in a residential car park in east London.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, described the moment a group of 7 to 8 youths, all in helmets who stood next to their mopeds, threatened her as she returned to her car.

The incident took place on April 26.

The Metropolitan Police investigated the Islamophobic incident but then closed the case, citing a lack of evidence and witnesses.

Tell MAMA has continued to document the often-disproportionate abuse, discrimination and violence directed at Muslim women who wear the niqab, which is an affront to their fundamental right to freely practice their religious beliefs and wear religious clothing, regardless of how conservative some interpret it.

This abuse and acts of discriminatory behaviour have impacted Muslim women at open-days for schools or in their interactions with Transport for London (TfL) staff. One Muslim woman told Tell MAMA that a TfL driver said: “I can’t hear you, I don’t want to speak to you with that thing on your face”, after enquiring if her child could also board the bus despite losing their Oyster card.

Other recent examples include threats or abusive comments following the comments made by the former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, last year.

You can get advice from our confidential and free helpline on 0800 456 1226. Or through our free iOS or Android apps. Report through our online form. Or contact us via WhatsApp on 0734 184 6086.

 

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Categories: Al Qaeda, hate crime, London, Metropolitan Police, MPS, News, Niqab

Girlfriend of London Bridge Victim ‘Had Premonition of Terror Attack’

The girlfriend of the first victim of the London Bridge attack has told his inquest she had a “premonition” they would be caught by terrorists.

Christine Delcros was walking on the bridge with father-of-two Xavier Thomas when they were mowed down by terrorists in a hired van on the evening of June 3 2017.

Ms Delcros was badly injured while Mr Thomas, 44, was catapulted over the balustrade and into the Thames. The Frenchman was found three days later and the cause of death was given as immersion.

Ms Delcros told the court she and her boyfriend had travelled by Eurostar for a weekend of sightseeing in London on June 3.

At 9.30pm they had decided to walk from their hotel, the Four Seasons in London Bridge, to have a cocktail in the Shard.

Mr Thomas had been tired but rejected the suggestion of going another night, she said. “I told him I did not know. I had so many premonitions about terror attacks from the day before and I could feel it.

“But I did not tell him, in fact, and to please me he started searching on his phone for another place but it is late now. He said, ‘that’s OK, it’s a magnificent view’, and he had planned everything properly accordingly and not to disappoint him I said OK.

“I just called my daughter and he has a younger son so he called his son and after that we went. After that I do not remember at the time of the van.”

Ms Delcros said she remembered being on the bridge and had the feeling that something was “not normal”.

“Suddenly I was under the impression there was a lot of light and a van that mounted the pavement in the exact fashion to make sure they were not going to miss us.

“I just heard myself say to myself, ‘that’s how one dies, that’s it’.”

Crying, she went on: “I thought that I had died, that the curtain had fallen. To me I was dead. I said to myself that’s how one dies and I have no recollection of the crash.

“It was only light when I woke up.”

Ms Delcros said a man came to help her and held her head as she regained consciousness.

She said: “Once I regained consciousness I asked, ‘where’s Xavier?’. He tried to look for him but he could not find him. I ordered him to look for him.”

The witness said she was in a lot of pain and felt like she was going into light.

“I could hear some voices, I was no longer there. I had my whole head with me but I was no longer using my body. I was going. I thought I would never get out of that light. I would stay there for ever.”

Asked by counsel for the coroner Jonathan Hough QC if she wanted to add to her evidence, she said: “I’m madly in love with Xavier.”

BBC journalist Holly Jones went to help Ms Delcros after jumping out of the path of the van and told police to check the water for her boyfriend.

Describing the moment a “demented” driver headed towards her, Ms Jones said: “Immediately I just froze. It was a feeling I described as like being punched into the chest. “There was a lady in front of me walking towards me. She had headphones on so she was not aware of any of this.

“I remember being stood frozen in fear. Something in the back of my mind told me to get out of the way. I jumped to the right towards the railings.

“At that point the van went past me. I could feel the wind of the van directly behind.”

Ms Jones said she remembered the French couple who looked “very happy together” on the bridge.

“I remember looking over and saw a female on the floor. My first thought was, ‘where’s the gentleman that was with her?’”

She scoured up and down the river but could not see where he was.

When she went to Ms Delcros, the French woman said, “where’s my boyfriend?”, and Ms Jones replied, “I don’t know”, the Old Bailey heard.

She added: “Those who did this try to separate us but they did the opposite. We are not victims of terror, we are survivors.”

Mark Roberts was among a group who had set up tripods to take photographs of Tower Bridge from London Bridge.

He saw a “commotion” with screams and shouts coming from the northern end of the bridge.

He told the court the van was going about 30mph or 40mph when it mounted the pavement and hit a group of people.

He said: “It looked to me it was deliberately steering and aiming at the people. That’s when I realised this is not an accident, this is a deliberate intent.

“At that point it started driving along the pavement towards me. There was one group of people, which included the previous witnesses, 20 yards away.

“I was thinking I should find some cover and I looked around and there was not really anywhere to go so I was frozen to the spot.”

Mr Roberts said he thought he was “next in line”, but suddenly the van steered away towards a large group of people running away.

He told the court one woman was thrown into the air “like a rag doll”.

On Wednesday, Gareth Patterson QC, representing some of the victims, said Mr Thomas and the second victim, Christine Archibald, would not have died if barriers had been put up after the Westminster Bridge attack two months before.

He has also questioned why more had not been done to stop Khuram Butt from hiring the van that hit them, despite being under investigation by MI5 and counter-terrorism police at the time.

After striking 10 pedestrians, including Mr Thomas and 30-year-old Ms Archibald, on the bridge, driver Youssef Zaghba crashed into railings.

Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Zaghba, 22, got out with 12in knives strapped to their hands with duct tape and wearing fake suicide belts.

They ran amok around Borough Market, killing six more people and injuring 48.

They were stopped by police marksmen who shot them dead less than 10 minutes after the rampage began.

The victims were Ms Archibald, 30, Mr Thomas, 45, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39.

 

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Categories: Christine Delcros, Khurram Butt, London Bridge Attack, News, Terror Attack, Xavier Thomas

Bacon put through letterbox of a Muslim couple in London

A Muslim couple, who were in the process of moving into a new flat, had pieces of bacon put through their letterbox.

The Islamophobic incident took place on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, the couple stated that some of their new neighbours had been abusive days earlier, citing ‘noise complaints’ as the couple were furnishing their new apartment which they apologised for. They do, however, feel targeted for their Islamic identity as the woman wears the hijab.

The Metropolitan Police are investigating the incident.

Tell MAMA has documented similar examples where Islamophobic perpetrators have used pork products to target Muslims in their homes, including an incident in 2017, where a Muslim family found pork dumped outside of their property, as part of a sustained campaign of abuse and harassment from a neighbour.

The weaponisation of bacon and other pork products is nothing new and has been used to target mosques and other Islamic institutions.

Some have contacted Tell MAMA to report how an employee at McDonald’s put rashers of bacon in their Fillet-O-Fish.

The racialised language of Islamophobia does sometimes incorporate language around bacon, for example, the high-profile abuse of the Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah, included the hateful statement, “feed the c*nt bacon”.

Allegations of the denial of certain pork-based products underpinned the notorious “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” story, first published by The Times newspaper. Allegations that foster carers had denied the child such pork-based products was proven untrue.

But the very idea of it, for the apparent distress it caused, taps into a deeper anxiety and conspiracy theories about Muslims. Such thinking can lead to forms of othering and discriminatory acts and behaviours.

You can get advice from our confidential and free helpline on 0800 456 1226. Or through our free iOS or Android apps. Report through our online form. Or contact us via WhatsApp on 0734 184 6086.

 

 

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Categories: bacon, hate crime, Metropolitan Police, News, pork

Pork Put Through Letterbox of Muslim Family

A family who just moved into their new home in London had pork put through the letterbox. The family reported in the abuse and which Tell MAMA actioned.

The pork was put through the letterbox on the first day of Ramadan, a month where Muslims fast and pray. It was therefore meant to be a further insult to the religious identity of the family who moved into the area.

Whilst some suggest that such actions are ‘childish pranks’ and should be ‘disregarded’, individuals who are targeted by such actions have explained to Tell MAMA that being targeted like this makes them feel unwelcome and unwanted. Some have also suggested that it has increased their fear levels and they have always had to remain vigilant when going out, something that has been emotionally and mentally taxing over a period of time.

If you are targeted in this manner, please do get in touch with us and our work and engagement with police forces across England and Wales can be a source of support for people and families who feel vulnerable at such times.

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Categories: Hate Crimes, Muslim Family, News, pork

Why Tommy Robinson and others on the far-right seek out celebrity ‘endorsements’

Ederson Moraes, the Manchester City goalkeeper, rejection of the views of the far-right extremist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) points to a wider and odd cultural phenomenon: how far-right figures seek out and exploit the legitimacy from mainstream celebrity figures, in opposition to the “corrupt” political establishment, in the hope of boosting their “authenticity” to an imagined and homogeneous view of working-class communities.

Some academics have diagnosed this phenomenon as a form of “entrepreneurial populism”, which, exists in a paradox: where a person running in opposition to the establishment, does not need to be trustworthy, or even demonstrate a strong moral core, due to the apparent “corruption” of their political opposition.

To “play a system whose institutions one does not trust but whose ideals and intentions are still trusted,” the untrustworthy are granted a degree of trust.

It’s within this framework that Yaxley-Lennon has morphed from a “journalist” into an Independent candidate in the upcoming European Elections.

But the tactic is nothing new.

In the embryonic months of the English Defence League, Yaxley-Lennon posed for a photograph with the media personality, Katie Price in 2010. In October 2010, in response to the photo circulating on social media, Ms Price tweeted: “that’s the trouble when I do pics I don’t know where they end up NO I don’t support such group report it.”

A year later, the disgraced former footballer, Joey Barton, then of Queens Park Rangers, was photographed with Yaxley-Lennon, and the photo soon appeared on the EDL’s Facebook page, with the caption, “Joey Barton joins the EDL”. Barton, like Price, used social media to deny any links to the group.

The EDL did enjoy some broad sympathy and support, but a clear majority were put off by their propensity for street violence. Its appeal, therefore, had hit a glass ceiling, given how many saw it as an innately Islamophobic, racist, and violent movement.

This decline, which owes to the mainstreaming of such ideological talking points, is also a product of what academics argue is the “reputational shields hypothesis.” In a broader sense, within this framework, political parties like the British National Party, could not reject accusations of racism and extremism, since their history provided “no evidence to support such a contention.” It’s why the EDL tried and often failed to appeal to religious minorities, like the Jewish and Sikh communities.

Its leadership, however, had bigger aspirations. Hence Robinson’s “rejection” of the movement he founded via the Quilliam Foundation, to his pivot towards the leadership of Pegida UK, demonstrate how Robinson, who remained unapologetic, never considered himself in need of ‘de-radicalisation’, as he saw himself as “correct” all along.

Yaxley-Lennon has even used his Telegram account to suggest that he has a “Muslim supporter” under the hashtag “#VoteTommy”, which runs counter to his history of Islamophobia and criminal convictions.

Credit: Telegram

In a further example of abstract “authenticity”, Yaxley-Lennon shared a meme of a milkshake with a burnt rasher of bacon inside, captioned with a lyric from the Kelis song “Milkshake”.

Credit: Telegram

A Muslim man who dowsed Yaxley-Lennon with one such milkshake has spoken of the death threats he has been sent since the video of the incident went viral.

Britain First, the street defence movement and far-right political party, has borrowed a similar tactic. In 2016, a photograph of the group’s leadership, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen with the BBC presenter Evan Davis, with the caption: “Paul and Jayda out campaigning today in London with Evan Davis, Britain First supporter and Dragons’ Den/Newsnight presenter!”.

Davis clarified on Twitter that he was asked to pose for a photograph with the individuals, unaware of their intentions or extreme political views.

The BBC’s former political editor, Nick Robinson, had posed for a photograph with Jayda Fransen, during the Rochester and Strood by-election in 2014, where she had gained just 56 votes, used the photograph to mask this failure and present a false example of mainstream credibility.

Robinson denied any affiliation to the group, writing: “I had no idea who this was. Asked for a selfie by someone I wrongly assumed was a worker at the count. My mistake,” despite Ms Fransen wearing a visible candidate badge.

Britain First gained its biggest endorsement (and free media attention) when Donald Trump retweeted their Twitter accounts in 2017.

 

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Categories: celebrity endorsements, Far Right groups, News, Tommy Robinson

The Democratic Football Lads Alliance, Offshoot Groups & Engagement with Anti-Muslim Prejudice

We are proud to launch the following report, which highlights the trajectory of the Democratic Football Lads alliance, offshoot groups and the ongoing engagement with anti-Muslim and radical far right movements in the United Kingdom.

The report has been authored for Faith Matters by two leading lights in this area of work, Dr Matthew Feldman and Dr William Allchorn.

This report appears a decade after the emergence of the English Defence League (EDL), a street movement that has changed the face of radical right politics in Britain.


DOWNLOAD THE REPORT

DFLA Report: A Far Right Antechamber?


Key points from this report include:

  *   A number of key supporters of the D/FLA, such as ‘Tommy Robinson’, rose to national prominence through these new street movements, which include not only the ‘defence leagues’ but the ‘Infidels’, Pegida UK and now the D/FLA.

  *   The D/FLA is on the way to becoming a fully-fledged radical right movement through its overwhelming focus Islam and consistent engagement with anti-Muslim prejudice. Yet the other issues in which it is engaged (such as combating homelessness) have staved off the ‘Far Right’ label to date, but 2019 will be a pivotal year for the group.

  *   The immediate stimulus for the formation of the Football Lads Alliance clearly emerged in reaction to several UK-based ISIS-inspired terror attacks that occurred from March to June 2017.

  *   Organisationally separate from the established UK Radical Right, the D/FLA can be more fruitfully aligned with the nationalistic and anti-establishment concerns of working-class football casuals in the UK.

  *   Since the FLA-DFLA splinter in April 2018, however, the rhetoric and group of actors within this new protest movement have seen the group move onto anti-Islam and anti-Muslim issues more customarily associated with the UK Far Right.

  *   At the start of 2019, the direction of the DFLA looked unclear – it is however certain that the DFLA may yet prove to be another incubator group for the Far Right, like the defence leagues and other anti-Muslim groups before it.

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Categories: Democratic Football Lads Alliance, DFLA, Engagement with anti-Muslim, English Defence League, Far Right groups, FLA, Football Lads Alliance, News, Tommy Robinson

Pope on sensitive trip to Orthodox Bulgaria and North Macedonia

Pope Francis starts a trip on Sunday to Bulgaria and North Macedonia where he will have to tread carefully because of sensitive relations with the dominant Eastern Orthodox Church in the two Balkan countries where Catholics are a tiny minority.

Bulgaria, a country of 7.1 million people, is home to just 58,000 Catholics, while North Macedonia, with a population of 2 million, has just 15,000 Catholics, less than some single neighbourhood parishes in Rome.

One purpose of the three-day trip is to improve relations with the Orthodox churches as part of the Vatican’s push for eventual unity between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity that split in 1054.

But that task is delicate because Orthodox churches in both countries are caught up in their own internal conflicts, which have spilled over into official relations with Catholics.

Bulgarian Orthodox leaders have ordered clergy not to take part in prayers or services with the pope, saying its laws do not permit it. But the pope will meet Orthodox Patriarch Neophyte and visit an Orthodox cathedral in Sofia.

“Receiving the pope but not praying with him is a contradiction in terms,” said Tamara Grdzelidze, professor of Ecumenical Theology and visiting fellow at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. She suggested that the choice was due to internal disputes among Bulgarians.

A statement from the Bulgarian Orthodox Church last month explaining its position emphasised that the invitation for the pope’s visit was made by state authorities, suggesting it had been given only a secondary role in the planning.

DIFFICULT DIALOGUE

Bulgaria’s Orthodox community is one of the most hardline in relations with the Catholic Church.

It is the only Orthodox community that has boycotted the most recent meetings of the official Orthodox-Catholic dialogue and also boycotted the 2016 Pan-Orthodox Council, citing differences on preparatory texts.

The Orthodox world considers North Macedonia’s Church to be in a state of schism since it declared itself autocephalous, or independent, from the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Apparently in an effort not to upset other Orthodox Churches, the pope will not be meeting privately with North Macedonian Orthodox Primate Stephen.

It will be only the second visit by a pope to Bulgaria – Pope John Paul visited in 2002.

It is the first by a pope to North Macedonia and comes just three months after its name was changed from Macedonia, ending a decades-old dispute with Greece and opening the way for the ex-Yugoslav republic to join the European Union and NATO.

“It’s a big political gesture on the part of the pope towards countries that have struggled to open themselves up both religiously and politically after the fall of communism and the Socialist bloc,” Grdzelidze told Reuters.

“It could also be an encouragement for the local Catholic churches, despite their size, to be more active in contributing to public life and introducing Western values while not being in contrast to the Orthodox,” said Grdzelidze, a former Georgian ambassador to the Vatican.

Francis is most eagerly awaited in Rakovski, Bulgaria’s largest predominantly Roman Catholic town.

“It is a great joy, a great spiritual experience, a feast of faith for the whole community here in Rakovski as well as for the whole country,” said Sister Elka Staneva, a nun who has been preparing local children to receive their first communion from the pope.

He will spend Tuesday in the North Macedonian capital of Skopje, where the late Mother Teresa was born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in 1910 when it was still part of the Ottoman Empire.

Known as the “saint of the gutters” for her work among the poor in India, she died in 1997 and was officially made a saint by Pope Francis in 2016. He is due to visit her memorial and meet poor people helped by the order of nuns founded by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

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Categories: Bulgaria, News, North Macedonia, Pope Francis