The RNLI respond to misleading “funding burkinis for Africans” articles

The Times and the Mail on Sunday’s viral coverage of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) overseas spending generated much outrage, but such outrage is contingent on a fundamental, crucial falsehood: the RNLI is not funding burkinis in Tanzania, as a majority of their funding for international work comes from private donors or charitable organisations, information that is freely available on the RNLI website.

Credit: Mail on Sunday/Mailonline.

So, such headlines, like “RNLI funding burkinis for Africans while cutting jobs” published in The Times newspaper on Saturday, are, therefore, further problemtised by their racialised framing. The Mail on Sunday headline (via the MailOnline website was no better). Tanzania has a population of 55.5 million. A clear majority identify as Christian (61.4 per cent), as 35.2 per cent of the population identifies as Muslim, according to data published in 2014. The semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, however, a focal point of both stories, is an archipelago island with over one million people, maintains a political union with Tanzania and Islam is the faith practised by almost all of the population. But such intricacies are lost as neocolonial narratives reduce a continent of where the United Nations recognises 54 countries. Africa is, after all, not a country. This issue of media framing is also nothing new.

The RNLI works with various partners in Tanzania, many of which were suspiciously absent in the media framing, which likely concerns the absence of the burkini in volunteers or participants. For example, there is no mention of Tanzania Search and Rescue, a partner of the RNLI, which is a volunteer-run search and rescue operation that operates off the seas of Tanzania.

The Panje Project in Tanzania has gained media interest over the years, including coverage in National Geographic and CNN.

The RNLI issued a press release in response to the press articles, stating that no more than 2 per cent of its expenditure goes towards projects abroad, which seeks to improve the capacity and skills of community groups in various countries. And, as the press release makes clear: “the majority of the RNLI’s involvement [with the Panje Project is] funded by a donor who specifically wanted the money to go towards this project”. Funding also contributes to classroom-based education initiatives.

There is a moral imperative to improving the swimming skills of individuals, as, according to the World Health Organisation, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional death worldwide, and for children (aged 1 to 14), the issue is most acute in countries like Bangladesh, where 43 per cent of all deaths in children aged 1 to four relate to drowning. In 2017, the RNLI interviewed Jeny, a swimming teacher and volunteer lifeguard, who said: “In small ways, I believe we are making real change here. Until now, the water surrounding us has been a source of life and death. Simple swim skills can make all the difference. We need local women to be leaders and an inspiration. Through this job, teaching children to swim and training to save lives, I’m trying to be the female role model I didn’t have when I was growing up”.

In Bangladesh, the RNLI works with various partners, including the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence. Again, the RNLI is transparent about the funding streams for projects in this country. Others took to Twitter to praise their work in Bangladesh.

Following an outpouring of support, the official RNLI Twitter account wrote: “As world experts in saving lives at sea, using just 2% of our budget to help combat a global drowning epidemic that costs around 370,000 lives a year (mostly children) has to be the right thing to do”.

The hashtag “#RNLI_disgrace” became a UK-wide trend on Twitter as users reclaimed the hashtag to praise the charity and their important work.

The Mail on Sunday perpetuates this falsehood as it captioned a photo, uploaded to their website, which referenced “RNLI-financed burkinis” raises questions about the privacy of the children and adults photographed, in an image which first appeared on their Facebook page in August 2017.

For many Muslim women, wearing the burkini in parts of Europe, New Zealand, and the United States has become a political act, as Muslim women in France continue to defy the burkini ban. More broadly, however, it’s about allowing Muslim women and girls fair access, helping them to enjoy swimming for recreational purposes, and to gain potentially life-saving water safety skills.

Tell MAMA continues to urge media outlets to consider how their choice of language influences wider public discourse.

The RNLI has since seen a ‘sharp rise‘ in donations.


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Categories: Burkini, Mail Online, media framing, News, Times

Far-right ‘freedom picnic’ for Poles in Manchester features antisemitic speaker

A speaker at a far-right “freedom picnic” in Bury, Manchester on September 15 had previously said that Poles were “being outmanoeuvred by Judeans who are trying to force our government to pay extortion money disguised as compensation”.

Stanisław Michalkiewicz, hosts a radio show on the Polish-Catholic owned Radio Maryja, which, according to the Anti Defamation League, has spread antisemitic messaging to its listeners for at least 25 years.

Aleksander Gancarz, the president of the Australian Institute of Polish Affairs, condemned Michalkiewicz’s presence in the country last February.

Michalkiewicz is facing legal issues in Poland after suggesting that a 13-year-old sexual abuse survivor was, in fact, a “whore” after the Catholic Church agreed to award her 1 million zloty in compensation.

He also referred to gay people as “sodomites” during a Polish-language radio interview last month where the discussion included a reference to an apparent “LGBT ideology”.

The event, hosted by a new far-right coalition called Konfederacja, was first exposed by Faith Matters in July, following their success among some Polish diaspora communities during the European Elections.

Another speak at Sunday’s event is Sławomir Mentzen, who is credited with inventing Konfederacja’s caustic slogan, “We don’t want Jews, gays, abortion, taxes and the EU”.

Sebastian Ross, another speaker, wrote on his Facebook page in April that some Jewish people were using “guilt” to weaponise antisemitism to generate funds for individuals and organisations to monitor it. Ross attached a cropped photo of a Jewish man with their finger in their nose to emphasise his point.

Credit: Facebook.

This image, however, continues to appear in neo-Nazis and white nationalist memes. ImgFlip, a popular website for creating memes, has become awash with antisemitic and Nazi imagery when using the simple search term “Jew”. The top image choice for memes includes the infamous “antisemitic meme of the Jew” which appeared on White Aryan Resistance hate site in 2004.

Janusz Korwin-Mikke, the disgraced former MEP, is another confirmed speaker.

Faith Matters continues to raise concerns about Korwin-Mikke and his repellent views.

Faith Matters will be forwarding its investigation to the relevant authorities in the Greater Manchester area.




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Categories: Antisemitism, Far Right groups, Konfederacja, News

Lone Wolf Terror Attack Planned Using Drones, Axes and ‘Ninja Eggs’, Court Told

An Islamic State fan plotted a “lone wolf” attack on the British army or police using a specially-adapted drone, knives, axes and Japanese “Ninja eggs”, a court has heard.

Hisham Muhammad, 25, amassed an array of weapons at his three-bedroom rented terrace in Whitefield, Bury, including a tomahawk, a machete and bear-claws, the Old Bailey was told.

He had also set about making a prototype of a drone attachment using lollipop sticks to drop a projectile or “harmful” device on his target, it was claimed.

He had allegedly researched police and army bases, including Castle Armoury Barracks in Bury, Greater Manchester, which he visited before his arrest last June.

The Bermudan national, who moved to Britain in 2013, had allegedly helped fund his activities with money from a bogus online escort agency scam.

He was caught after his landlord spotted  “suspicious” items at the defendant’s home including knives, a tub of wires and a soldering iron, the court heard.

Jurors were told his landlord had visited the property after Muhammad and his cousin Faisal Abu Ahmad, 24, had fallen behind with their rent.

In a search, police uncovered the stash of weapons as well as lollipop sticks attached to an electrical component with black tape and various wires, jurors heard.

Some of the components allegedly matched sketches and detailed notes for adapting a drone.

Muhammad’s interest in the devices dated back to late 2017 or early 2018 when he had called next door to retrieve a small drone from his neighbour’s back garden, jurors heard.

Officers also seized two painted eggs containing crushed chilli seeds and shards of glass which were described as Japanese “ninja eggs”.

Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC said Muhammad had steeped himself in “barbarous” Islamic State propaganda as he planned a “lone wolf” attack in Britain.

An examination of Muhammad’s tablet computer revealed an IS video entitled My Revenge had been watched eight times between May 21 and May 30 last year.

Ms Whyte said the video in French justified and encouraged “lone wolf attacks” in France and Europe, and included gruesome footage of executions.

The defendant had trawled the internet for postcodes in Westminster and central Manchester, knives, drones and British armed police, jurors heard.

On May 21 last year, he allegedly researched suicide belts, machetes and Victoria train station which had been part of the scene of the Manchester Arena terror attack a year before.

Two days later, Muhammad visited an army recruitment event in Bury town centre and the nearby Castle Armoury Barracks where expressed an interest in joining up, jurors were told.

It was claimed the defendant went on to Google “weak points of the human body for assault” as well as armed police in UK and Manchester.

In a police interview, Muhammad denied planning an attack, saying he had a “gift from god for making things and liked to innovate”.

The court heard he had cast doubt that the Manchester Arena bombing and Westminster Bridge attack had happened and questioned whether video of Fusilier Lee Rigby’s killing was real.

Ms Whyte told jurors: “We allege Hisham Muhammad intended to commit an act of terrorism – he plainly considered and researched the use of a drone to drop some sort of harmful device.

“That, we say, was always going to present technical challenges and he combined an anticipated use of a drone with plans to use knives or other bladed items in order to stab human targets.

“Whatever his final approach to an adapted drone, by the time of his arrest, he had plainly resolved to commit some sort of knife attack instead.”

Muhammad of Victoria Avenue, Whitefield, Bury, denies engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism.

Abu Ahmad, of the same address, has pleaded not guilty to failing to alert authorities of the alleged attack plan.

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Categories: Hisham Muhammad, Lee Rigby, Manchester Arena, News

Woman Charged with Homophobic Hate Crime at Pride March

A 38-year-old woman has been charged with a homophobic hate crime public order offence after allegedly shouting “shame on you” at people taking part in a Pride march.

Jamila Choudhury, from Walthamstow, east London, is accused of harassing participants as they passed her during the event on July 27.

Footage posted on social media showed a woman wearing a niqab repeatedly shouting “shame on you” at participants.

In the video the woman could be heard shouting: “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

“Shame on you, shame on all of you. Shame on you, you despicable people. Shame on you, you shameless people.”

In a statement, published on July 28, We are Waltham Forest Pride said: “This morning we were made aware of a video showing an individual shouting homophobic abuse at some in the parade. The police are looking into this as a potential hate crime and while we condemn all homophobic abuse, we also condemn outright and unequivocally all forms of hatred and abuse, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, and want to make it absolutely clear that this was one, lone individual and in no way do that person’s views represent the views of any section of the local community. It’s depressing, but comes as no surprise, that far-right commentators like Katie Hopkins have seized on this video and tried to use it to hasten their twisted view of society in order to stigmatise the Muslim community in Waltham Forest. We utterly condemn this, and any attempts to use this incident to fan the flames of discord between communities in our great borough.”

Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow, condemned the abuse in a tweet on July 27 which read: “Gutted to see this and clear such hatred isn’t acceptable anywhere let alone in our home town- proud that many from all faiths and none today including Islam joined the Waltham Forest Pride march to show Walthamstow really does mean welcome.” She ended her tweet with the hashtag “#loveislove”.

Choudhury was charged on September 5 and is due to appear on bail at Thames Magistrates’ Court on Thursday October 3.


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Categories: East London, hate crime, homophobia, Jamila Choudhury, News

Islamic authorities in Malaysian state denounce Shi’ites in sermon

Religious authorities in a Malaysian state denounced Shi’ite Islam on Friday and asked mosques to call in sermons on their congregations to be vigilant over the spread of the “deviant teachings” of the Shi’ite sect.

The minority Shi’ite community in Sunni Muslim-majority Malaysia has been subject to discrimination and persecution by authorities, human rights groups have said.

State religious departments have raided the community’s places of worship and made arrests.

The Selangor Islamic Religious Department, or JAIS as it is known by its Malay-language acronym, said in a weekly sermon that Muslims should not be influenced by practices of the Shi’ite sect.

Sermons in Malaysia are standardised, and Islamic leaders typically deliver their Friday sermon in mosques based on the weekly sermon issued by the state religious department.

“I implore upon the Muslim ummah (community) to always remain vigilant upon the spread of Shee’ah deviant teachings in this nation,” the department said, according to a copy of the sermon posted on its website.

JAIS is the Islamic religious authority in Selangor, Malaysia’s richest state. It is funded by the state government.

The Shi’ite ideology “ensnares its victims” through educational institutions, children’s books, novels, comics, among others, the department said in the sermon said.

“The Muslim ummah must become the eyes and the ears for the religious authorities when stumbling upon activities that are suspicious, disguising under the pretext of Islam,” it said.

The department described Shi’ite practices as “extremist” and “nauseating”.

Reuters could not establish if the sermon criticising Shi’ites was delivered at all mosques in the state. But religious experts said mosques typically follow the sermon issued by the state religious authority.

Isham Pawan Ahmad, an associate professor at the International Islamic University near Kuala Lumpur, said the sermon delivered at a mosque he went to in Selangor on Friday was similar to the one issued by JAIS.

“This is the most vehement comment on Shi’ites in Malaysia. It makes them a target,” Isham said.

Shi’ites are a minority is Malaysia, with some estimating their numbers in only the tens of thousands.

Shi’ite community leaders were not immediately available for comment.

In 1996, a Malaysian Islamic body issued a fatwa, an Islamic ruling, recognising Sunni Islam as the faith of Malaysian Muslims.

Malaysian Shi’ite Muslims have complained about their inability to worship freely, and that they may face obstacles in carrying out rituals which are both cultural and religious, the U.N. special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights said in a preliminary report in 2017.

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Categories: Malaysian, News, Shi'ite

Member of the public intervenes to stop racist abuse of Muslim woman

A member of the public intervened to stop the racist abuse of a Muslim woman working as an Evening Standard vendor outside of a major London Underground station in East London.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, the man described, how, upon leaving the station, he witnessed two white women mocking the accent of a Muslim woman, who wears the hijab, as they made other derogatory remarks.

Angered but what he witnessed, the man intervened and challenged the two women. One of whom asked him ‘what his problem was’, to which, he replied that he would not tolerate any racist bullying and that he would be calling the police on 101, and the women soon left.

He then handed his phone to the Muslim woman who gave her details to the Metropolitan Police, adding that he was going to contact the Evening Standard to make them aware of the incident.

The Islamophobic and anti-Muslim incident occurred on September 3 at around 6:15 pm GMT.

The woman added that they had targeted her for abuse before, so, the man entered an adjacent shop and spoke with staff, requesting that they keep an eye out for the abusive women.

Tell MAMA continues to educate members of the public about how they safely intervene when hate crimes or hate incidents occur – from calling the police on behalf of individuals, speaking with victims when the perpetrator(s) leave and offering reassurance, to challenging the perpetrator when safe to do so.

The actions of the man to intervene are indeed welcome, and we respect his right to privacy.

Tell MAMA will not disclose the name of the station where this incident occurred to protect the identity of the Muslim woman impacted.

Such acts of solidarity, of upstanding behaviour are worth acknowledging and, where appropriate, worth celebrating. The yearly No2H8 awards celebrate and recognise the contributions of individuals and organisations who work to counter bigotry, hatred, and racism in all its forms.

Nominations for Upstanders in the fields of media, parliament, law enforcement, social research, community work, business, and local authorities are still open. Members of the public can also nominate in several other specialised categories – including lifetime achievement, young Upstander, and the Jo Cox Award. Previous winners include Luciana Berger MP, Ravinder Singh of Khalsa Aid, Ahmad Nawaz, Stop Funding Hate, The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, Emma Roebuck, Stephen Brookes MBE, and many more.

Tell MAMA published its findings for 2018 earlier this week, and, consistent with previous reports, the targeting of Muslim women remains a disproportionate issue, as for the known/disclosed victims, the majority were female (57 per cent, n=721). Again, verified incidents to Tell MAMA were most likely to occur in public areas (n=209).

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, London, News, No2h8, TFL, Upstander

Polish Private Investigator with anti-Muslim Views on Trial for Possessing Terrorist Instruction Manuals

A private investigator voiced “racist, anti-Muslim and anti-immigration views” on social media and to work colleagues, a jury has heard.

Pawel Golaszewski, 34, is accused of possessing instruction manuals on making weaponry and killing techniques.

He denies six counts of possessing a document containing information useful for terrorist purposes under the Terrorism Act.

It is alleged that, on or before February 23, Golaszewski had copies of 21 Silent Techniques Of Killing by Master Hei Long, The Anarchist Cookbook and The Big Book Of Mischief.

It is also alleged he had the Improvised Munitions Handbook, Murder Inc The Book by Jack The Rippa, and Mini-manual Of The Urban Guerrilla by Carlos Marighella.

Prosecuting, Dan Pawson-Pounds told the Old Bailey on Tuesday that one of the documents gave “detailed instructions on how to kill people, as simple as that”, while another contained instructions on how to “fight against a government”.

Armed police stopped the defendant’s car on Abbey Road, Leeds, on February 23 and arrested him on suspicion of terrorist offences.

They seized a laptop and tablet computer – devices on which the documents were found – as well as three sets of double looped tie-wraps, a folding pocket knife and a pair of chain link handcuffs.

Searching his home in Armley, officers seized a survival knife in a sheath on a wall in the living room, two smoke grenades and a torch with a concealed knife in a desk drawer.

Mr Pawson-Pounds said Golaszewski, who appeared in the dock assisted by a Polish interpreter, told police at Eccleshill Police Station in Bradford that he was “not a terrorist” and the manuals were for professional research.

“I’m not a terrorist. In regards Britain First I’m not agreeing with their policies, their views and I think what they are doing is wrong,” the defendant told police.

“In regards the manuals on my devices, I was doing research, general research as I wanted to join army forces.

“And also I was doing some general research as part of my business and work.

“In regards to smoke grenades, I bought them legally from UK shop and they were for paintball purposes and I’m taking part in paintball events.”

Golaszewski, who was arrested while wearing a Nationwide Security Services uniform, claimed he obtained the documents as research for work as a security guard.

“The Crown’s position is that there can be no legitimate reason for someone working in this industry, as a security guard or front door bouncer, to need to possess such material,” Mr Pawson-Pounds told the court.

“The world would be a very dangerous place if that was a legitimate reason.”

Golaszewski also claimed the manuals were to assist his own private investigations company, PG Investigations, in tracing missing persons and debtors, serving legal documents, matrimonial cases and surveillance.

The jury was told that investigators found that, after speaking to the defendant’s work colleagues and analysis of his Facebook account, he had voiced “anti-Muslim and anti-immigration” views.

Mr Pawson-Pounds said: “The defendant presents as a deeply bigoted individual, espousing far right causes and voicing racist, anti-Muslim and anti-immigration views.”

Two copies of the Improvised Munitions Handbook were allegedly found on the defendant’s laptop – one in a subfolder called “banned books collection” – and another copy was found on his tablet, where it had been downloaded in Kindle format.

An expert in explosions concluded that guidance in the 256-page document was “largely accurate and could be used to make viable explosive substances”, the jury heard.

Golaszewski, of Wensleydale Mews, Armley, has been remanded in custody.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday morning.

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Categories: Golaszewski, News, terrorism

How Christchurch inspired further acts of far-right terror

Shortly before a far-right terrorist entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and murdered 51 Muslims in March, a self-aggrandising racist screed totalling 87-pages appeared on the infamous 8Chan imageboard, a link to the suspect’s Facebook live stream as he went on his killing spree, was also posted, and others were encouraged to view and share.

As the tragedy unfolded, variations of this video would infect the largest social media platforms, as sections of the tabloid press in the UK were criticised and accused of turning terrorism into the shallowest form of clickbait.

In the days which followed, as Muslim communities mourned in New Zealand and abroad, as world leaders condemned the anti-Muslim and Islamophobic violence, some, on the darkest corners of the internet, were busying themselves by translating this racist screed into the major languages of Western and Eastern Europe. Tell MAMA found that individuals had translated copies into French, Dutch, Spanish, Bulgarian, Russian, and Ukrainian.

Reports to Tell MAMA increased by 593 per cent, with 95 reports between March 15, and midnight on March 21.

The manifesto and actions of the Christchurch suspect inspired further acts of racist violence and domestic terrorism in California, El Paso, Texas, in Baerum, Norway, and a village in Surrey, England.

The commission of an investigation of the Christchurch terror attacks, announced on March 25 by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, promised to give Muslim communities much need reassurances and answers. Now, however, many feel marginalised by the secrecy of the commission which appears to favour governmental sources over Muslim voices. Aliya Danzeisen, of the Islamic Women’s Council, said they were being “ignored”. Anjum Rahman described how, for years, Muslims had warned about the rise of anti-Muslim and Islamophobic sentiments and the risks it posed, only to find it overlooked. In July, New Zealand’s Human Rights Commissioner called for the increased inclusion of Muslims in the inquiry. Pete Breidahl warned authorities about the gun club Brenton Tarrant was a member of in 2017 – and it was ignored.

Archives of the Facebook profile of the suspect, Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian national living in New Zealand, revealed a small number of viewers, which grew as 8Chan posters praised the racist terror as it unfolded.

Analytics, provided by Facebook, reveal that the initial live stream had fewer than two-hundred viewers. The peak number of viewers hit around four-thousand before it was removed an hour later from the platform.

Within a day, however, there were 1.5 million attempts to reupload to the video to Facebook, of which, 1.2 million were blocked, meaning that 300,000 uploads slipped through. The company was not without criticism and admitted that due to ‘rarity’ of such events, its artificial intelligence software did not ‘automatically catch’ the video.

Tarrant’s alleged Twitter activity, most active 3 days before the terror attack, was soon removed from the platform.

YouTube, however, refused to disclose any details of how many times the terror video, was uploaded, but it emerged that “as soon as the group took down one, another would appear, as quickly as one per second in the hours after the shooting”. YouTube even disabled, for a brief time, several search functions to limit its reach, but some users had edited the original clips to avoid their automated detection systems.

The virality of the terror attack and the manifesto were boosted by several British tabloids, as BuzzFeed News reported that MailOnline had allowed readers to download the 74-page racist screed.

The Sun and The Mirror ran excerpts of the video. Lloyd Emberly, who edits the latter news title, tweeted on March 15: “For a brief period this morning the Mirror website ran some edited footage filmed by the gunman in Christchurch. We should not have carried this. It is not in line with our policy relating to terrorist propaganda videos”.

Possession of the Christchurch live streams carries a potential prison sentence of up to 14 years in New Zealand, and dozens (if not more), have since been charged.

Sky New Zealand was fined NZ$4,000 (£2,100) for airing “extensive” footage of the Christchurch terror attack live streams. The network had briefly broken association with Sky Australia following its airing of the live stream, in a deleted tweet. Sky Australia later clarified that the decision between the two stations was mutual.

One of the men who watched the live stream of the Christchurch terror attack, outside of New Zealand, was Vincent Fuller, 50, who lived in that Surrey village mentioned above. Mr Fuller spoke of his “agreement” with this terroristic act on Facebook. The following evening, a neighbour recalled Fuller shouting: “All Muslims should die, white supremacists’ rule. I’m going to murder a Muslim”.

Fuller, in possession of a baseball bat, racially abused a South Asian neighbour, before going on a racist rampage, damaging vehicles and threatening drivers, including a Muslim man who works for Uber.

He then returned home and left in possession of a nine-inch blade which he later used to attack a 19-year-old man, Dimitar Mihaylov, on March 16. His victim suffered injuries to their hand and neck, which the police declared to be a terrorist attack a day later.

Fuller admitted guilt at Kingston Crown Court, including to charges of attempted murder, possession of a bladed article, affray and racially aggravated harassment (among other charges). A judge will decide on September 5 if the attack was terroristic, an argument pursued by the prosecution.

The main suspect in an antisemitic mass shooting, which left one person dead and three others injured, at a California synagogue, drew direct inspiration from Christchurch. A manifesto, attributed to John T Earnest, followed a similar pattern: appearing on 8Chan before the attack occurred. It was in this racist screed that Mr Earnest claimed that he attempted to burn down a local mosque days after the deadly terror attack in New Zealand. Local police later confirmed that John T Earnest is a suspect Escondido, California, on March 25. The second source of inspiration for this racist violence was Robert Bowers, the white supremacist, accused of murdering 11 Jewish people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in October last year. Prosecutors will seek the death penalty.

A white supremacist, intent on killing as many Latinx people as possible, entered a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, singling out those they perceived as Latinx (and avoiding other ethnic groups), in a domestic terror attack which left 22 people dead and 26 others injured, on August 3. A manifesto attributed to the suspect, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, adapted the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, to fit Latinx communities, was uploaded to 8Chan. Crusius was described as “cold” and “lacking remorse” in interviews with police.

To repeat a similar pattern: a white supremacist motivated by racial hatred enacted mass murder to further an ideologically driven conspiracy theory of the “grand” or “great” replacement. In our latest annual report, covering the reporting year of 2018, Tell MAMA outlined the ideological thrusts that connect dehumanising language to group-based violence and genocide in the Balkans and Rwanda to the transnational, pan-European movements that take inspiration from the French and Italian New Right, namely through the works of Renaud Camus. But as our report shows, “This racialised paranoia about Muslims in France is nothing new, however. Charles de Gaulle, who oversaw the end of oppressive and violent French colonial rule in Algeria, confided in 1959, that withdrawal from Algeria was better than offering full citizenship, as it would turn France into an “Islamic country”. The consipracy of Eurabia has dominated thinking in some mainstream circles.

A week later, a white supremacist, inspired by the terroristic shootings in El Paso and Christchurch stormed a mosque in a town near Norway’s capital, Oslo, dressed in a helmet, body armour and armed with various weapons, including “two shotgun-like weapons and a pistol”. The attack resulted in one injury, as 65-year-old Muhammad Shafiq, one of three congregants present at the mosque, disarmed the man.

The suspect, identified as 21-year-old Philip Manshaus, awaits trial on charges of murder and murder. Following the attack, police found the body of Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen, the stepsister of the suspect.

There was, however, no evidence of a racist screed, nor use of either 4Chan or 8Chan, as misreported by sections of the media. A post attributed to Manshaus appeared on EndChan, which linked to the Facebook profile of Manshaus, and a photo album of him from youth to adulthood on the photo-sharing platform Imgur.

A variant of the enduring “Chad vs Virgin” meme, which began life on 4Chan’s /r9k/ forum, which was said to have been created by Manshaus in praise Brenton Tarrant, put himself and others, like Crusius, were his “disciples”, suggesting how one disciple begets the violent actions of the other. The meme also repeated reference to the “great replacement” conspiracy and antisemitic talking points that reference the terroristic violence of Anders Breivik. A point reiterated by Cathrine Moe Thorleifsson, who researches extremism at Oslo’s Center for Research on Extremism (C-Rex).

An Instagram account, attributed to Manshaus, featured just three photos, two of the suspect, and the other was of Anders Breivik performing a Nazi salute. Norweigan police confirmed that Manshaus supported Vidkun Quisling who headed the puppet regime under Nazi Germany’s control. Following the end of the Second World War, Quisling was arrested and put on trial for treason, and, following his conviction, was executed.

Neo-Nazis in Ukraine who translated the alleged screed of Tarrant, following requests to publish it in paperback on Telegram (in a group we will not disclose), sought to radicalise those far-removed from dark internet cultures. An admin for this group even translated the alleged manifesto of Patrick Crusius. Tarrant’s solicitor had later informed the group’s admin (identified by their pro-Hitler username) that he was unable to deliver letters to him in prison, suggesting instead, that he write to the prison address provided. The admin shared a screenshot of the email with the group which boasts 1,100 members.

Brenton Tarrant, however, is unable to send or receive letters after New Zealand’s Department of Corrections admitted that two letters from Tarrant to supporters escaped censure or vetting. One such letter sent to a supporter based in Russia spoke of his love for the country, his racist ideology, and worryingly, a call to arms for further violence. This supporter uploaded the contents of the letter to 4Chan.

Law enforcement officials thwarted at least seven mass shootings or white supremacist attacks across the United States two weeks after the terror attack in El Paso.

Following the terror in Christchurch, there has been a growing debate about the threat of far-right violence and terror. Some academics have argued that public perceptions about terrorism are obscuring the reality, that in most western democracies (including the United States), deadly far-right terror outweighs other forms of terroristic violence. The issue of framing has been addressed in academic circles, as one study found that a preoccupation with al-Qaeda and ISIS-inspired attacks among terrorism researchers, overlooked state terrorism, far-right terrorism, and militia-based terrorism (in countries like Iraq or Northern Ireland). Other studies point to how terror attacks carried out by those of Muslim backgrounds had, on average, gained 4 ½ times the coverage, despite being responsible for 12.4% of domestic terror attacks in the United States between 2011 and 2015.

The UK government announced in July that the terror threat system will now account for the threat of domestic far-right extremism.

The spectre of ideologically-motivated individuals self-radicalising online has emerged, echoing similar talking points about the far-right terrorist Darren Osborne. A man with a history of violence was consuming propaganda from Britain First (and others) within weeks of watching a BBC dramatisation of the horrors of child sexual exploitation. In Osborne’s own words, committed by hand on a napkin in a pub, he wrote “islams ideology doesn’t belong here & neither does Sharia law”. Of course, the pathway to radicalisation is not linear nor is Osborne an outlier.

More broadly, however, the use and promotion of “leaderless resistance” amongst neo-Nazi groups are most pronounced during the 1970s and 1980s in the United States. A group called The Order, which inspired Combat 18 in the UK, was a notable example of a semi-autonomous terror group which helped finance other white supremacist activities. Infiltration by the FBI stopped The Order but not before the group had firebombed a synagogue (which resulted in no injuries), murdered a Jewish radio host, and armed robberies. Robert Jay Mathew’s who led the group was killed in a shootout with the FBI in 1984. The anniversary of his death has become a yearly rallying point for neo-Nazis, has resulted in racist violence, including in December last year.

An all-white jury cleared 13 white supremacists of seditious treason in 1987 after the Justice Department became convinced that The Order was coordinating with other groups.

The FBI’s infiltration of The Order drew attention to the influence of William Pierce, who authored The Turner Diaries, a white supremacist survivalist novel, which has inspired domestic terrorism in the United States, the UK, and other countries.

Terrorism scholar J.M. Berger outlined how Louis Beam, a high-ranking member of his local Ku Klux Klan chapter and in the Aryan Nations, further popularised the idea of “leaderless resistance” in a racist magazine called The Seditionist. Berger argues that the far-right do not have a monopoly on this concept, but as the terror attacks in 2019 demonstrate, “distributed leadership”, which, for Berger, are “difficult to combat than more ordinary influence patterns, where one or two relatively prominent figures have a disproportionately large influence over a large number of people”. A means to counter this evolving threat, Berger argues, is through deplatforming and countervailing messaging.

The owner of 8Chan, Jim Watkins, has now stated that he has no intention of making the website accessible again. Other studies have looked at the sharp rise in antisemitism on platforms like Gab and 4Chan’s /pol/ forum (which saw exponential growth in usage following the election of Donald Trump).

Tarrant visited Greece, Austria, Bulgaria, Turkey, Israel, Romania and Hungary as recently as 2018, with some trips occurring a year or so prior. In 2016, he visited Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia, according to Bulgarian Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov. His interest focused on obscure locations during the Ottoman wars in the nineteenth century. He visited 11 semi-rural locations in Bulgaria, including the town of Plevin, made famous for being the site of a siege during the Russian-Turkish war of 1877 and 1878. Prosecutors in Bulgaria launched an investigation into Tarrant’s presence in the country. Tarrant visited Pakistan, parts of South-East Asia, and North Korea. The Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadžić was glorified in the terroristic live streams.

Tarrant also donated €1500 to Martin Sellner’s Identitäre Bewegung Österreichs (IBÖ) organisation last year. Pleasantries between Sellner went beyond mere exchanges of gratitude, as a chain of emails revealed a closer friendship between the two men, including offers to drink beer or coffee together if either man found themselves in Austria, New Zealand, or Australia. Austrian police then launched a terror investigation into Sellner’s connections to Tarrant, including the allegation that Sellner was working with Tarrant in a terrorist and “structurally fascist” organisation.

Investigations of Tarrant’s social media footprint revealed support for the Australian “eco-fascist” Marcus Christensen, who supports the white nationalist Lads Society movement, but denies holding such views, in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, who also revealed that Tarrant had left several positive reviews for his machinist business. Tom Sewell, president of the Lads Society, confirmed to the newspaper that Tarrant rejected the chance to join the group, as he was moving to New Zealand in 2017.

More broadly, Tell MAMA has continued to urge social media platforms and search engine providers to limit those on the far-right who breach hateful conduct policies and who promote hyperpartisan content under the auspices of “news”. As our 2019 report states: “The growth of hyperpartisan alternative news platforms, saturated in pro-Tommy Robinson content, gained notable attention in 2018 and 2019, creating a bivouac of ideological content”.

Tell MAMA made similar recommendations in its 2016 annual report, published in 2017, warning how far-right websites had gamed Google’s algorithm through legal Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) methods.

Brenton Tarrant, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, still faces 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one of engaging in a terrorist act. The trial will begin on May 4, 2020.

The post How Christchurch inspired further acts of far-right terror appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: Brenton Tarrant, Christchurch, El Paso, Far Right groups, News, terrorism

Tell MAMA Annual Report 2018: Normalising Hatred

Key Statistics of Anti-Muslim Hatred – 2018

Of over 2,000 contacts made with Tell MAMA in 2018, Tell MAMA recorded 1,282 anti-Muslim or Islamophobic reports, of which 1,072 were verified as being classified as such, through secondary evidential sources.

Of the 1,072 cases, 745 occurred at a street level and 327 were online.

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In addition, Tell MAMA received reports of 1,891 anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents from 20 police forces in the U.K. which Tell MAMA has data sharing and information agreements with. (These details do not overlap with the Tell MAMA data sets). In total, we received 2,963 anti-Muslim hate incidents in 2018, including Tell MAMA and police data sets.

Two Significant ‘Spike Points’ of Anti-Muslim Hatred in 2017

In 2018, two significant spikes occurred. The first, in spring, reflected the ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ letters sent to Muslim homes, institutions, and places of work in March, followed by heightened tensions, fears, and anxieties around the proposed day in April, and the second wave of letters (‘Punish a Muslim Day 2’), received in May. In total, Tell MAMA received reports of 37 offline (street based) incidents which directly referenced ‘Punish a Muslim Day’.

The second and more significant spike occurred in August after the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson a column referring to veiled Muslim women as ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank-robbers’. In the week following his article, anti-Muslim incidents increased by 375% – from 8 incidents the previous week, to 38 in the following. Of the 38 anti-Muslim hate incidents in the first week following Mr Johnson’s comments, 22 were directed at visibly Muslim women who wore the face veil (niqab) or other veiling practices. We recorded a total of 57 incidents in the three weeks following the column’s publication, 32 of which were directed at visibly Muslim women. Between the 5th and 29th of August, 42% (24) of the street-based (offline) incidents reported to Tell MAMA directly referenced Boris Johnson and/or the language used in his column.

Language of Hate

Verbal abuse (abusive language), accompanied many of the anti-Muslim incidents. We analysed the trends in language, finding several themes; terrorism, paedophiles, hatred of foreigners, blame, competition, insulting/derogatory remarks about Islam, and expressions of confidence by the perpetrator that no punishment will follow.

Social Media

Over the last three years, Tell MAMA has recorded a steady increase in street-based (offline) anti-Muslim incidents year-on-year. However, this year demonstrated an 11% reduction in street-based (offline) incidents compared with the previous reporting period of 2017 (with 839 street-based incidents recorded). It should also be noted that there were 4 major terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom in 2017, which led to sharp spikes of reported anti-Muslim hate incidents into Tell MAMA just after the major attacks.

The online 2018 Tell MAMA dataset includes 327 verified reports, down 10% from the 2017 figure of 362 verified reports. A clear majority of reported abuse occurred either on Twitter (175 reports/incidents) or Facebook (92 reports), with a small minority having occurred on YouTube (8 reports). The ‘Other’ category (52 reports) includes communications sent over email or posted on internet forums. As with the previous dataset, we categorised most online cases as Hate Speech (168 reports) and Abusive Behaviour (96 reports). Threats accounted for 12 reports, while Anti-Muslim Literature remains present in a clear minority of cases (50 reports).

Locations of Hate

Most commonly, anti-Muslim attacks/incidents in 2018 took place in public areas (209). Incidents which took place within, or targeted the victim’s household or private property, increased by 11% (101 to 113), and those occurring in the victim’s place of work have risen by 8% (74 to 80) since the previous year.

Interconnectedness of anti-Muslim Hate and anti-Islam Comments

The rising instances of discrimination, hate speech, and anti-Muslim literature indicate that a more general intolerance and hatred is growing. These typologies are seldom prosecutable by law and have proven more difficult to achieve satisfactory outcomes and solutions for victims. Similarly, this year we analysed the trends in verbal abuse, finding a common theme whereby perpetrators use language attacking Islam and religious practices alongside, for example, anti-Muslim hate incidents that range from abusive behaviour, discrimination, or threats. We, therefore, emphasise the gravity of attacks on Islam in tandem with hatred directed at individuals or institutions. The two are interconnected, thus hatred and intolerance must both be challenged simultaneously.

Gender of Victims and Perpetrators

We recorded the details of 1244 victims and 1196 perpetrators. Consistent with our previous reports, of the known/disclosed victims, the majority were female at 57% (721). The majority of known perpetrators were male (73%, 482 of 663), and 61% were white men (404 in 663).

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Categories: reports