In a world first, Facebook to give data on hate speech suspects to French courts

In a world first, Facebook has agreed to hand over the identification data of French users suspected of hate speech on its platform to judges, France’s minister for digital affairs Cedric O said on Tuesday.

O, whose father is South Korean, is one of French President Emmanuel Macron’s earliest followers, and has been influential in shaping the president’s thinking on Big Tech as an advisor at the Elysee palace in the first two years of Macron’s presidency.

The decision by the world’s biggest social media network comes after successive meetings between Zuckerberg and Macron, who wants to take a leading role globally on the regulation of hate speech and the spread of false information online.

So far, Facebook has cooperated with French justice on matters related to terrorist attacks and violent acts by transferring the IP addresses and other identification data of suspected individuals to French judges who formally demanded it.

Following a meeting between Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs, and O last week, the social media company has extended this cooperation to hate speech.

“This is huge news, it means that the judicial process will be able to run normally,” O told Reuters in an interview. “It’s really very important, they’re only doing it for France.”

O, who said he had been in close contact with Clegg over the last few days on the issue, said Facebook’s decision was the result of an ongoing conversation between the internet giant and the French administration.

Since his nomination as minister in March, O has made the fight against hate speech online a key priority through regular contacts with Facebook’s top executives, including founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook declined to comment.

STRONG SIGNAL

“It is a strong signal in terms of regulation,” said Sonia Cisse, a counsel at law firm Linklaters, adding that it was a world first. “Hate speech is no longer considered part of freedom of speech, it’s now on the same level as terrorism.”

With Facebook’s latest move, France is now a clear frontrunner in the quest to regulate big social media outlets, and other platforms might follow suite, Cisse said.

The discussions on how to best regulate tech giants began with a Zuckerberg-Macron meeting last year, followed by a report on tech regulation last month that Facebook’s founder considered could be a blueprint for wider EU regulation.

Facebook had refrained from handing over identification data of people suspected of hate speech because it was not compelled to do so under U.S.-French legal conventions and because it was worried countries without an independent judiciary could abuse it.

France’s parliament, where Macron’s ruling party has a comfortable majority, is debating legislation that would give the new regulator the power to fine tech companies up to 4% of their global revenue if they don’t do enough to remove hateful content from their network.

O also signalled his openness to seeing French startups being snapped up by larger U.S. companies, in a spite of recent measures taken by Macron’s government to bolster anti-takeover rules to protect the country’s strategic companies.

“My only goal is to spur the creation of a lot of companies,” he said. “I have no problem with the fact that some of them are bought by U.S. companies, as long as they don’t have critical technology.”

TOO BIG

The minister is also reluctant to support the idea of breaking up companies like Facebook or Google, whose size, weight on the Internet and financial firepower have turned them into systemic players just as much as big banks.

Facebook has been called a social media monopoly by co-founder Chris Hughes, and calls for a break-up of the group have intensified.

“We cannot impose very tough obligations on Western companies and dismantle them because they are very big, and not do the same thing with Chinese companies that enter the Western market,” he said, referring to groups like Alibaba and Tencent.

A graduate of France’s top business school, HEC, O combines political experience – he was an aide to Dominique Strauss-Khan, like many of the tight group of “Macron Boys” who propelled him to power – and a stint in the private sector, at engine maker Safran.

At the Elysee, he was in charge of advising Macron on the French government’s vast portfolio of stakes in French companies, having to deal with hot corporate sagas such as Renault-Nissan, as well as handling relations with Big Tech.

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Categories: Emmanuelle Macron, France, News, Zuckerberg

Five-year-olds target Muslim classmate with abuse

A five-year-old Muslim pupil was abused by a classmates who said: “Muslims kill animals and people, that’s why we have to hit you”.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, the unnamed parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, described the moment she became aware of the Islamophobic incident and rushed to inform the school.

She added that the deputy headteacher had spoken to the students and their parents and that an apology was given.

It was during these discussions that the parents of the Muslim child expressed their concerns that the boys had copied the language of their parents. Their concerns also extended to the Prevent Duty, and if a Muslim student had made such statements, that the punishment would likely go beyond an apology.

The incident took place at an unnamed school in London, on June 17, but Tell MAMA has declined to name the school to protect the identities of those who contact our service.

The incident comes weeks after evidence from the NSPCC found that racist abuse and bullying of children has risen by one-fifth since 2015/16.

Some children have used make-up to whiten their skin to avoid racist harassment and abuse.

A Muslim teenager told the NSPCC: “People call me a terrorist and keep telling me to go back to where I came from.”

More children than ever before are being excluded over racist bullying, with 4,509 fixed or permanent exclusions, up from 4,085, the previous year.

Tell MAMA has continued to document how Islamophobia and anti-Muslim prejudice harms Muslims of all ages, as a sizeable minority (n=53, 6 per cent) of reports in 2017 occurred in schools.

The age range of perpetrators may reflect a wider problem of Islamophobic bullying in educational institutions, given how in some incidents (where the data was available), revealed a higher number of those who had experienced Islamophobia than perpetrators under the age of twelve.

Outcomes, however, are not always positive. Some parents, who have reported to Tell MAMA, have raised concerns about how schools had mishandled reports of Islamophobic abuse and bullying.

In response, Tell MAMA has published recommendations for educational institutions which include the need for guidance, to do more to accommodate Muslim role models, and to foster an environment where students do not fear going to staff for support. Teachers are also encouraged to invest time in their Muslim students given that many believe that teachers have stereotypical or low expectations of them, per the findings of the Social Mobility Commission in 2017.

Studies, after all, have found that perceptions of discrimination were shaped the mismanagement of racist and religious bullying, resulted in parents withdrawing their children. This ‘trust gap’ extends to the overrepresentation of some minority ethnic groups in exclusion rates, as students from black Caribbean backgrounds are 1.7 times more likely to face permanent exclusion than their white counterparts.

Further transparency in formal and informal complaints procedures, will help improve trust, as teaching staff do have a legal obligation to handle complaints with sensitivity – especially if complaints are against members of staff.

Tell MAMA provides a range of resources which includes safety tips for children and young people.

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: bullying, London, News, schools

Terror Suspect, Mahdi Mohamud, Faces Charges After Stabbing Couple in Manchester

A terror suspect accused of attempted murder after a stabbing in Manchester on New Year’s Eve will stand trial in November.

Mahdi Mohamud, 25, was arrested after a couple in their fifties were stabbed several times at the city’s Victoria railway station at around 9pm on December 31.

Mohamud faces three counts of attempted murder and an offence of possession of a document likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

The terrorism charge relates to a manual the defendant allegedly had in his possession entitled “the seven most lethal ways to strike with a knife”.

Anna Charlton and James Knox were knifed as they entered the Metrolink area of the station.

Mr Knox suffered 13 injuries including a skull fracture, the court heard.

Ms Charlton’s right lung was punctured and she suffered a slash to her forehead that cut down to the bone.

British Transport Police (BTP) Sergeant Lee Valentine was also stabbed in the shoulder as he responded to the incident.

He was wearing five layers of clothing which prevented a more serious injury.

Sgt Valentine and three other BTP officers were the first on the scene before pepper spray and Tasers were used to detain the suspect.

At a brief hearing before Mr Justice Sweeney on Monday at Oxford Crown Court, Mohamud was not asked to enter his pleas but a timetable was set out for his trial in the autumn.

The defendant, of Cheetham Hill, Manchester, appeared via video link and spoke only to confirm his name.

The court heard that Mohamud is a Dutch national but has also spent time in Somalia.

Justice Sweeney listed the case for trial on November 25 at Manchester Crown Court to be heard by a High Court judge.

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Categories: Cheetham Hill, Mahdi Mohamud, Manchester, News, Victoria station

Jihadi Jack Parents Found Guilty of Funding Terrorism

The parents of a Muslim convert dubbed Jihadi Jack are facing jail after being found guilty of funding terrorism.

Organic farmer John Letts, 58, and former Oxfam fundraising officer Sally Lane, 57, refused to believe their 18-year-old son Jack had become a dangerous extremist when they allowed him to travel, the Old Bailey heard.

They ignored repeated warnings he had joined Islamic State in Syria and sent – or tried to send – a total of £1,723 for him despite being told by police three times not to.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said the couple, from Oxford, “turned a blind eye to the obvious” – that their son had joined the murderous terrorist group by the time they sent £223 in September 2015.

The defendants claimed their son, who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, was trapped in Raqqa and by December 2015 when they tried to send more funds, they were acting under “duress” fearing he was in mortal danger.

A jury deliberated for nearly 20 hours to find the defendants guilty of one charge of funding terrorism in in September 2015 but not guilty of the same charge in December 2015.

Jurors were discharged after they were unable to decide on a third charge relating to an attempt to send money in January 2016.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said the Crown would not seek a retrial and asked for the charge to lie on file.

There were gasps in the public gallery but defendants made no reaction in the dock.

The court had heard how Jack Letts left the family home in May 2014 and embarked on what his parents saw as a “grand adventure” to learn Arabic in Jordan.

Before his departure, a friend of the teenager had tried to warn his parents about his growing extremism and urged them to confiscate his passport.

From Jordan, Jack Letts moved to Kuwait and married Asmaa, the daughter of a tribal elder, in Iraq before travelling on to Syria.

Lane told jurors she was “horrified” when he rang her to say he was in Syria in September 2014.

She said: “I screamed at him, ‘How could you be so stupid? You will get killed. You will be beheaded’.”

John Letts begged his son to come home, telling him: “A father should never live to see his son buried.”

He went on to accuse him of being a “pawn … helping spread hatred, pain, anger, suffering and violence”, jurors heard.

In early 2015, police raided the family home and warned the defendants not to send any property or money to their son.

Jack Letts ranted about it to his parents, saying police would “die in your rage”.

In July 2015, he posted on Facebook that he would like to perform a “martyrdom operation” on a group of British soldiers, and threatened to behead his old school friend Linus Doubtfire, who had joined the Army.

When challenged by his parents, he said: “I would happily kill each and every one of Linus Unit personally… I honestly want to cut Linus head off.”

Ms Morgan said it was “ridiculous” to claim the message had been posted by someone else using Jack Letts’s account, because he even knew the name of the family cat.

At the time, Lane conceded in a message to her son it was “naive of us to believe” he was not a fighter.

The defendants also consulted an academic expert who told them it was “highly improbable” that Jack Letts had not engaged in military activity, the court heard.

In spite of the mounting evidence,  Lane sent £223 after Jack Letts gave her his word the money would have “nothing to do with jihad”.

Police followed up with a second warning, telling Lane that “sending money to Jack is the same as sending money to Isis”.

But in December 2015, Jack Letts began indicating he would like to leave Syria and told of a “big misguidance in the state”.

John Letts told a family liaison officer that Jack Letts was “desperate to get out” and in “danger”, and was advised he could send him money to leave.

The advice was quickly corrected and the defendants were issued with a written notice stating: “The police do not endorse or authorise the sending of any monies to Jack Letts.”

Lane told her son: “We know you are in danger so we feel we have no choice but to help you and send it.”

But when she asked him to spell out the danger he was in, Jack Letts responded: “Define danger.”

She went on to attempt two money transfers which were blocked, and the defendants were arrested.

John Letts declined to give evidence, but his barrister Henry Blaxland QC told jurors the prosecution was “inhumane to the point of being cruel”.

He said: “These parents have to all intents and purposes lost their son. They are having to deal with the trauma.”

The jury was not told that father-of-one Jack Letts, now aged 23, is being held by Kurdish authorities in northern Syria accused of being a member of IS.

Detective Chief Superintendent Kath Barnes said the conviction sends a clear message, adding: “It’s not for us to choose which laws to follow and which not to and when it’s OK to break the law.”

She said investigators had a “huge empathy” for the Letts family, adding: “Fundamentally John Letts and Sally Lane are not bad people.

“It’s hard to imagine the kind of agony they must be going through because of the choices their son made.”

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Categories: Jake Letts, Jihadi Jack, News

From Finsbury Park to medieval Spain: how the far-right misuse history

On the second anniversary of the Finsbury Park terror attack, we have reposted a section of our 2017 annual report, Beyond the Incident: Outcomes for Victims of anti-Muslim Prejudice, to highlight how the far-right misuse history, and, how some glorified this act of terror, which can fall foul of anti-terror legislation.

On the morning of June 23, a tweet depicting Mr Osborne ‘crushing’ Islam appeared online. The image juxtaposes Osborne’s name against the Cross of St James of Compostela, a reference to James the Apostle, the ‘Moorslayer’. Spanish historiography asserts that James the Apostle played a central role in the ninth-century Reconquista against Islamic Spain, which is contested by historians. Centuries later, such mythologised narratives became popular among Catholic nationalists. The Order of Santiago (Orden de Santiago), founded in twelfth-century Spain, adopted this cross, as the Knights of the Santiago, were charged with making war with Muslims. The forced expulsion of Jews by the Spanish crown in 1492 was repeated centuries later with the expulsion of 300,000 of Moriscos, Muslims who had nominally converted to Christianity after the surrender of Granada in 1492, after more than a century of discrimination and marginalisation. The mass movement of people was traumatic but resulted in little violence. It did, however, leave a deep impression in the collective memory of both faith groups. In a wider context, some historians connect this event to the conquest in Constantinople (1493) with the siege of Vienna (1683), drawing clear distinctions between how competing empires treated their religious minorities.

The shift in how Europe came to view Islam as an immutable force came from the essentialism of European thought in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, where old stereotypes which reframed Islam as culturally inferior centuries earlier, fused with the racial pseudo-science of the time, to justify colonial rule in Muslim-majority lands. Centuries later, the use of the cross as a symbol created fresh controversy, as a 2,000-strong Spanish brigade, deployed to Iraq in 2003, wore patches on their shoulders bearing the Cross of St James; the decision was condemned by the Spanish press as politicians avoided the issue. This emphasis on the past through a selective reading of history is a popular tactic found today among some of the most prominent populist right-wing and far-right parties in Europe. Wodak and Forchtner (2014) analysed a comic produced by the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) in a 2010 election, pointing out how the party fused history with the modern by linking the Battle of Vienna (1683) with Turkey’s pursuit of EU membership. Moreover, they argue that such imagery and language appeals to a chauvinistic form of identity politics which taps into ‘group-specific collective memories’ that are always hinted at and occasionally directly addressed.

A desire to view history through this narrow interpretive lens creates, as Halbachs (1992) argues, a collective way for individuals to recall and localise their memories from wider society, for the purposes of appealing to certain demographics. Therefore, given the unconventional medium of a comic for political propaganda, it is, therefore, fair to draw some comparison of sorts with the cartoonish propaganda used to lionise Darren Osborne, which seeks to frame him within a wider historical narrative that aims to appeal to the collective memories of those drawn to wider anti-Muslim ideological networks. Moreover, individuals who lack the resilience to resist such extremist narratives may seek to justify the attack as a form of revenge or to celebrate the terrorist in question. The former sits within Levin and McDevitt’s study which found that 8% of perpetrators who commit a hate crime in situations where they believe that the ingroup is under attack by an ‘outgroup’.

Endnotes: The murder of 51-year-old Makram Ali outside of the Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park, London by the far-right terrorist Darren Osborne, and the attempted murder of nine others did result in several offensive tweets about Muslims, with some glorifying Osborne’s terroristic violence. Such reports, while small, appeared within hours of the attack, one tweet later removed by Twitter read “The only sympathy I have is for the van driver. #Revenge”. A far-right inspired Facebook page used the popular ‘#FinsburyPark’ hashtag to spread a meme which read “Is this the month of Ramadan or Ramavan?” on June 19. A Facebook post reported to Tell MAMA heaped praise on Mr Osborne, adding that ‘it’s about time someone started exterminating them’.

Read our 2017 annual report here.

 

 

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Categories: Darren Osborne, Finsbury Park, News, terrorism

Duke Of Sussex Branded ‘Race Traitor’ By Far-Right Extremists of Polish Heritage

The Duke of Sussex was branded a “race traitor” and pictured with a gun to his head in an image posted online by an extremist teenager.

The image of Harry, against a blood-spattered background and featuring a swastika, was shared on a far-right social media platform last year.

Michal Szewczuk, who is being sentenced for two counts of encouraging terrrorism and five counts of possession of terrorist material, searched “Meghan Markle”, “Prince Harry” and “pointing gun” before creating the image and sharing it in August.

It included the phrase “See Ya Later Race Traitor”.

The 19-year-old, of Wyther Park in Bramley, Leeds, sipped water and gave no reaction in the dock at the Old Bailey, while quotes from his blog justifying the rape of women and children to further an Aryan race were read aloud to the court.

He is being sentenced alongside Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski, 18, for encouraging terrorism by posting images or links to Gab, a social media platform which attracts mainly far-right users, last summer.

Dunn-Koczorowski, whose posts included support for far-right terrorist Anders Breivik and the threat of ethnic cleansing of Albanians, demonstrated a “highly radicalised and violent mindset”, the court heard.

Prosecutor Naomi Parsons said the posts, made across three accounts by the two teenagers “convey a message of the threat of and/or use of serious violence against others, in order to advance a political, ideological and racial cause (neo-Nazism) and in this way encourage terrorism”.

She told the court targets included Jewish people, non-white people and anyone “perceived to be complicit in the perpetuation of multi-culturalism”.

Dunn-Koczorowski, 18, from St Albans Avenue in west London, is being sentenced for two counts of encouraging terrorism.

Szewczuk, who was arrested in December at his halls of residence during his first year studying computer science at Portsmouth University, pleaded guilty in April to possession of documents including the White Resistance Manual and the al Qaida Manual.

Dunn-Koczorowski, who was arrested at his west London home on the same day last year, admitted the charges against him in December.

The sentencing continues.

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Categories: Al-Qaida, Dunn-Koczorowski, Michal Szewczuk, News, Polish Extremism

Twitter Takes Down Thousands Of Accounts Linked to Iran

Twitter has removed almost 5,000 accounts it believes are linked to the Iranian government with the aim of manipulating conversations about political and social issues.

The social network has been cracking down on state-backed information operations as part of an effort to clean up its platform of fake news.

In its latest disclosure, Twitter removed more than 1,500 accounts which tweeted nearly two million times with global news content angled to benefit the diplomatic and geostrategic views of the Iranian state.

Another 2,865 accounts originating from Iran were taken down for using false personas to target conversations about political and social issues in Iran and globally, while another 248 accounts were banned for participating in discussions related to Israel specifically.

“We believe that people and organisations with the advantages of institutional power and which consciously abuse our service are not advancing healthy discourse but are actively working to undermine it,” said Yoel Roth, head of site integrity at Twitter.

“Our site integrity team is dedicated to identifying and investigating suspected platform manipulation on Twitter, including potential state-backed activity.”

The company also suspended 130 accounts linked back to Spain, which it discovered were directly associated with the Catalan independence movement, spreading content about the Catalan referendum.

Only four accounts linked to Russia were taken down this time round – down from the 518 Russian accounts it reported back in November – as well as 33 from Venezuela engaging in platform manipulation.

The move comes at a critical time for social networks, as they look to shake off accusations of not doing enough to tackle misinformation and the spread of harmful content, such as terrorism-related posts and hate speech.

Twitter’s legal, policy, and trust and safety lead, Vijaya Gadde, recently admitted that she has “no doubt” that content on Twitter and other social networks could contribute to radicalisation, while revealing that 1.6 million accounts have been taken down related to terrorism.

According to the executive, 90% of terror-related content taken down is detected by Twitter’s own technologies proactively without any users reporting it.

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Categories: Iran, News, radicalisation, terrorism

Labour councillor ‘liked’ Facebook page of Tommy Robinson

A Labour Party councillor who allegedly ‘liked’ the Facebook page of the far-right extremist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) before its removal from the platform, had shared an anti-immigrant post last month, Tell MAMA can reveal.

Credit: Facebook.

Councillor Carol Bowman represents the ward of Waltham Cross in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.

Tell MAMA began its investigation after a member of the public forwarded screenshots of posts and ‘likes’ attributed to Cllr Bowman’s personal Facebook account.

A blog post from Facebook on February 26, 2019, outlined how Mr Yaxley-Lennon had incurred multiple breaches of its Community Standards, in posts which dehumanised Muslims and promoted violence against them. Examples cited by the BBC included a post which encouraged individuals to “terrorise and behead those who follow the Koran”.

It was during this investigation that Tell MAMA uncovered a post, dated May 11, 2019, where the councillor shared a post which read, “The best barrier for stopping illegal immigrants is to stop ALL benefits to illegal immigrants.” It went further, adding, that “WE OWE THEM NOTHING.” Ms Bowman captioned the post, “Yes, totally agree!”.

Credit: Facebook.

Those who enter the UK illegally, however, are unable to claim financial support unless they enter as, or become, asylum seekers. Individual financial support for asylum seekers is capped at £37.75 per week and drops to £35.39 (per person) for failed asylum claims.

Egiligibty for tax credits and other social security benefits for EU residents and migrants outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) depend on passing a habitual residence test (for the former), and Non-EEA nationals require indefinite leave to remain (often called “settled status”) to proceed with such a claim.

Those with ‘limited’ leave to remain are unable to apply for such social security benefits, as they have “no recourse to public funds”. This precarious status, has, according to housing charities, put individuals and families at greater risk of homelessness.

This racialised and caustic myth has circulated online in various email chains for over a decade and is traceable to similar campaigns in Australia and Canada. Given the viral nature of the email campaign, the House of Commons Library issued a briefing paper countering the myth that refugees and ‘illegal’ immigrants received more financial support from the government than pensioners.

An additional screenshot provided to Tell MAMA purports to show Cllr Bowman sharing a viral Facebook post from 2013 where an individual ranted about needing to renew their passport, and, despite his family living in England ‘since 1776’, he instead had to rely upon his doctor, who, in their own words, was, “BORN AND RAISED IN PAKISTAN”.

 

A valid counter-signatory on UK passports is someone who knows the applicant (not professionally) or is ‘a person of good standing in their community’ or work in (or be retired from) a recognised profession, like a doctor or GP. A family member or partner (via marriage or cohabitation) are not permitted to be countersignatories on UK passport applications.

Tell MAMA reached out to Cllr Bowman but as of writing has not received a reply.

Tell MAMA will be making a formal complaint to Broxbourne Council and the Labour Party.

 

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Categories: anti-migrant, Labour Party, News, Tommy Robinson

Prevent Advisory Groups Within Areas Like Redbridge Are Inviting Groups Who Have a Torrid History

We within Faith Matters, have made the decision to disengage from any further association with the Redbridge Prevent Advisory Group. This group, which is meant to provide advice, support and scrutiny where possible on local Prevent programmes, now constitutes of some individuals who are part of groups who see nothing positive in Prevent and who regularly lambast counter-extremism work at every turn. Their position is nothing more than a form of posturing against the Government, whilst seeking to build a culture of victimisation within local communities.

Depressingly, allied to this, is the fact that the Home Office has an advisory role with Prevent Advisory Groups on a national basis. It seems that Home Office civil servants don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ around what is taking place in Redbridge and this highlights a depressing approach to countering extremism. It is the old tactic of seeking to ‘win over’ groups who frankly, want the legitimacy of being able to attack the Government through such platforms. It simply plays to their audiences that they have nurtured with a steady diet of fear mongering and victim baiting.

One of the representatives now being included is from a group that has actively attacked other projects, had a history of staff making antisemitic comments and which has sought to attack Prevent at every opportunity. It has also had associates promote the return of Hamas operative Khalid Meshal to Gaza with a narrative using Islamic verses. Another former supporter of the very group that is being invited to be on the Redbridge Advisory Group, promoted material that suggested that Israel should be ‘relocated to the United States’. Both had played a significant set of roles in the organisation that is now being given a seat at the table of the Redbridge Advisory Group.

The leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal, has been steadfast in his desire to challenge and counter extremism and he has repeatedly said that all forms of extremism must be challenged. He has shown leadership in this matter and it is therefore concerning that officers and their counterparts in the Home office have approved the inclusion of an individual associated with such a group. This not only sends out the wrong message to those Muslims who have been attacked by such groups, it also sends a huge message to Jewish communities who have repeatedly spoken out against such groups. It says that their voices are being set aside in the battle against extremism, in order to ‘tick box’ engagement, whilst undermining the very values of tolerance, fairness and balance that we all seek to defend.

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Categories: countering extremism, Faith Matters, Jas Athwal, News, Opinions, Prevent Advisory Group, Redbridge Advisory Group

Conservative Cllr John Moss suspended over anti-Muslim Twitter conduct

The Conservative Party have suspended a councillor after a complaint was made over their social media conduct last month.

Cllr John Moss, Conservative councillor for Larkswood ward in Waltham Forest, was named in a BuzzFeed News article concerning historic anti-Muslim and Islamophobic social media posts last month.

Cllr Moss has since apologised “unreservedly” for the comments and removed them from his Twitter account. He added that the comments “were not intended to be malicious, but they were careless.”

Credit: Facebook

The councillor has stated that he intends to meet with his local imam to apologise to him and to those who attend the mosque.

A Tell MAMA investigation, however, had unearthed several tweets which were then reported to the Director of Governance and Law at Waltham Forest Council on March 1, 2019.

Inflammatory tweets uncovered by Tell MAMA included the statements, “I’m sad to say Islam is damaging to women almost everywhere” and “Of course, the real abuse of animals because of outdated dogma is halal and kosher slaughter.”

Credit:Twitter/John_J_C_Moss.

He signed a Change.org petition in 2016 which called for UK-wide ban on halal slaughter, adding that halal and kosher slaughter should be “consigned to history”.

Credit:Twitter/John_J_C_Moss.

Cllr Moss replied to The Times columnist David Aaronovitch, on March 24, 2016, “Nothing to do with Islam either I suppose?” after Aaronvitch’s had tweeted “The Brussels terror attacks have nothing to do with Brexit. My @thetimes column this morning.”

Credit:Twitter/John_J_C_Moss.

It was after the terror attack in Brussels in March 2016 that Cllr Moss had tweeted: “In the name of a “god” which nobody can prove exists, by followers of a “prophet” that nobody can criticise = a death cult.”

Credit:Twitter/John_J_C_Moss.

A tweet from late 2014 read: “Just seen a fully Burka’d women driving a BMW playing George Michael at full volume #ironyalert.”

Waltham Forest Council responded to Tell MAMA’s complaint and concluded that “We are also of the view that the social media posts were not made by Cllr Moss in any official capacity but were private posts unconnected with is his official council role.”

The Twitter biography of Cllr Moss had read “Conservative Councillor & Affordable Housing Champion”. His official councillor biography on the Waltham Forest Council website linked to his @ John_J_C_Moss Twitter account. His biography has since been updated to read “On holiday”.

Cllr Alan Siggers, Conservative group leader for Waltham Forest, told the East London & West Sussex Guardian on May 30, that: “Myself, the deputy leader and chief whip interviewed John for his side of the story and we were satisfied that he does not have an Islamophobic bone in his body”.

Tell MAMA welcomes the decision to suspend Cllr Moss from the Conservative Party. We called for an inquiry into anti-Muslim prejudice and Islamophobia in the Conservative Party following the London Mayoral election campaign in 2016, a call we repeated last year.

Cllr Moss will also undergo diversity training and will donate his salary for the month to a charity of the imam’s choosing.

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Cllr John Moss, Conservative Party, News