How did a fostering row in Tower Hamlets become about religion?

The welfare of a child at the heart of a religious fostering row in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets was not at risk, following a ruling from a family court judge.

The five-year-old girl, described by her mother as Christian, is now in the care of her maternal grandmother, at the request of her mother, and the local authority.

This interim care order came about thanks to the evidence presented in family court, and not influenced by media reporting.

The judge, Khatun Sapnara, disclosed that an assessment of the maternal grandparents revealed their non-practicing Muslim background.

The timetable of proceedings has changed to reflect the complexities of the case, which includes ‘criminal and family law proceedings’ and an international dimension.

Supervised contact between mother and daughter will continue following the council’s request to place the child in the care of her maternal grandmother for the interim, as the mother wants to resume care of her daughter. Tower Hamlets Council hopes to place the child with her maternal grandmother in the long-term, but this may involve the child leaving the country.

Tower Hamlets Council took the child into care in March after police exercised their powers of protection. There was, however, no ‘culturally matched’ placement available at the time.

The mother continued to have regular supervised visits with her daughter, which extended to telephone calls and calls to her grandmother.

On June 27, 2017, the court ordered the local authority to address the mother’s concerns, which they continue to dispute.

Confidential reports seen by The Times newspaper alleged that the child had a necklace with a cross removed and was not allowed to eat carbonara as it contained bacon. Concerns raised by a social services supervisor that the child complained about a lack of spoken English in one foster carer’s home. The local authority disputes this claim.

The court has directed Tower Hamlets Council to address fresh allegations from the mother by 4 pm on September 8.

The mother will voluntarily submit hair and liver samples to test for cocaine and alcohol. Any criminal proceedings against the mother, including sentence and pre-sentence reports, must be filed with the court by the same date.

Tower Hamlet’s Council will translate the mother’s final statement into the native tongue of the grandmother. It is understood the child also speaks this language but did not understand the Arabic spoken, according to an article in the Times.

The Times has made serious allegations that the local authority had attempted to block the story, including preventing court access for their journalists, which was lifted by Judge Sapnara.

A damning Ofsted report last July had rated child services in Tower Hamlets as inadequate. The council said it was taking steps to address the concerns raised.

There are strict rules around fostering, and the BBC spoke to Esmat Jeraj and her family’s long record of fostering children.

Far-right groups in the UK, including the British National Party, English Defence League, and Britain First seized on the initial coverage.

Kirralie Smith, the political activist in the far-right Australian Liberty Alliance party, tweeted the MailOnline’s initial coverage while criticising multiculturalism.

Others raised concerns about MailOnline journalists editing a stock photo of a Muslim family to include a face veil. The photo was then re-edited to remove the veil, and pixelating her face.

The print edition of the Metro had published the edited face veil photo.

The Sun’s editorial bellowed that the decision ‘beggars belief’ on August 29, its front page for that day made passing reference to the story.

A day earlier, MPs were urged to call for a public inquiry, which became the Daily Mail’s front page lead the next day, which referenced the child’s faith. Katie Hopkins had tweeted this front page, posing the question: “Which individual at Tower Hamlets was responsible for the abuse of this little girl?”

The Daily Mail’s front page on August 30 gave further coverage to the story.

Every front page from the Times between August 28 and August 31 referenced the foster case, including two front page leads, per social media posts. Every headline referenced Muslims or Muslims, with two headlines, made contrasting reference to the child’s faith.

Other media outlets including the Independent, Metro, and Mirror referenced the faith of the parties involved and the child’s ethnicity.

The newspaper regulator Ipso has received complaints about the Times and Mail’s coverage of the story.

The next hearing for this foster case is on October 2.







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Categories: Christian, Daily Mail, fostering, Media, Muslim, News, the Sun, The Times, Tower Hamlets

Hope Not Hate’s Poll Shows a Deepening Mistrust of Muslims

Hope Not Hate have just released their survey of 4,000 people entitled, ‘Fear and Hope – 2017’. The poll was conducted by Populus and looked at the impact of four terrorist attacks in three months in 2017 and the Brexit negotiations and the Grenfell Fire. Key social points of focus included race, faith and belonging.

The results provide for optimism and reassurance as the poll suggests that the public are being more open and receptive to others and there is a British sense of optimism that is very much part of the country, even though on bleak grey days, we as Brits certainly know how to complain.

However, there is also a worrying thread which runs through the poll in relation to how the public perceive Islam and Muslims. The poll indicates that attitudes have become more hostile to both and with just 10% of the public feeling that Muslims are similar to themselves. This is a stark and deeply worrying statistic.

Worst still, the poll shows that 52% of those who answered the 140 questions agree that Islam poses a threat to the West and 42% highlight a growing suspicion of Muslims, after the recent terrorist attacks. Going on, nearly 1 in 4 of the respondents believe that Islam is a dangerous religion which incites violence and older subsets of respondents demonstrated a receptiveness to Islamophobic views and discourse.

These are stark responses and show a divide that is clearly opening up between wider communities and British Muslim communities.

Communities Coming Together After Terrorist Attacks

As suggested earlier, there were some points for optimism. The results were heartening with 4 in 5 respondents responding positively to communities standing together and being seen to be visibly responsive immediately after terrorist attacks. A similar figure also could distinguish the actions of terrorists from all Muslims and more positively still, 1 in 2 of the respondents had noted that they had come across material where Muslims were seen to speak out against terrorist attacks. The latter makes a change from the narrative which seemed to be circulating for many years, which suggested that Muslims were not seen to be speaking out against extremism and terrorism and thereby passively accepting extremist rhetoric.

The report, however, raises some red flags. Members of the public seem to be tiring of post terrorist scenarios where communities come together and 2 in 3 respondents wanted to see Muslims hold demonstrations and marches against terrorism. In other words, they wanted to see a more forward-facing posture from Muslims against terrorism, rather than the passive cohesive style approach now taken after such major national incidents.

Furthermore, the poll also showed a hardening attitude to Muslims which should be a major wake-up call for them. Whilst we know that many British Muslims have gone out of their way to speak up against extremism and terrorism and to reach out to others, this work needs to be ramped up, better organised and much more vocal in many ways.

Knowing Muslims

The Populus poll for Hope Not Hate also highlights the fact that 1 in 2 white respondents did not have deeper links and associations with Muslims signifying deeper community divides, whilst they over-estimated the population of Muslims in the UK.

There has also been a hardening of attitudes around human rights with calls by respondents for a relaxation in the human rights protections of those suspected of terrorism. The majority of respondents also preferred stronger laws and more authoritarian solutions which clamped down on issues such as extremism and terrorism, possibly showing that the patience of the public is being stretched by terrorist attacks. Also, 3 in 4 respondents believed that integration was best assisted by Muslims speaking English and with closer monitoring and Muslim faith schools in particular.

These results are therefore, both heartening but also worrying. They show a growing divide between the wider public and British Muslim communities and with the divides becoming stark, as highlighted through this report. If we are to ensure that community tensions, extremism and marginalisation are to be tackled in our country, we have to find ways which address the concerns of the wider public, whilst also ensuring that British Muslims feel that they have a future and a space in the United Kingdom. We firmly believe that this country provides the best opportunities in Europe to British Muslims and that Muslims have the freedom to practice and be who they are in the UK. However, it is also clear that more needs to be done to bridge divides, challenge extremism and be seen to stand up for the safety, security and rights of each other. Last but not least, there is one clear result from this poll. If we don’t collectively make a change, there is a slippery slope ahead which does not bode well.

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Categories: 2017, English, Far Right groups, Fear and Hope, Hope not Hate, integration, News, Populus, report, terrorism

Threatening Anti-Muslim Leaflet Sent to Family in Bradford

The following leaflet was sent to a Muslim family in Bradford. The leaflet makes threats of acid attacks against visible Muslim women who wear the Niqab or the face veil. The leaflet also makes reference to the grooming of white girls and is titled, ‘Kill scum Muslims’.

As is sadly the case, the focus on Muslim women continues and this leaflet is an example of the anti-Muslim hatred and rhetoric that is targeted at Muslim women. There is a heavy gender driven focus in anti-Muslim hatred and which has hugely disproportionate impacts on Muslim women.

If you receive such a leaflet, we would advise recipients to call the police since there may be evidence that can be collected off the leaflets. Furthermore, we would be grateful if we are notified since Tell MAMA is investigating a pattern of such campaigns and this is helping us to build a rich picture of where such campaigns may be emanating from and where their impacts are. Your information will therefore be extremely useful and will also ensure that we within Tell MAMA, can support your needs.

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Categories: Bradford, Far Right groups, grooming, hate crime, Leaflet, Muslim women, News, Threats to Kill

PSNI investigate pig’s head dumped outside Newtownards Islamic centre

Police are investigating a spate of anti-Muslim hate crime in Newtownards after a pig’s head left on the doorstep of an Islamic centre on Wednesday evening.

Graffiti was also painted on the wall of the building and in other parts of the town.

Police confirmed that they had been made aware of the pig’s head dumped at the Bangladesh Islamic Community Centre on Greenwell Street, at 23:45 BST on Wednesday, with the graffiti, reported hours later.

Racists then went to spray paint ‘Islamic rapists out’ and ‘Muslim rapists out’ in other locations.

The third act of graffiti has yet to be reported to the PSNI, according to Belfast Live.

Residents and politicians have condemned this act of race hate.

A spokesperson for Amnesty International also condemned the incident.

After news of the hate crime broke, a bouquet of flowers appeared on the doorstep of the Islamic centre.

Members of the far-right party Britain First had targeted the Islamic centre with a flash demonstration in August 2015. Earlier this month, Paul Golding, leader of Britain First, had confirmed that the party intends to register as a political party in Northern Ireland.

The Electoral Commission has yet to approve this request, however, according to the list of registered political parties in Northern Ireland.

PSNI are treating the incidents as hate crimes and are appealing for more information.

You can get advice through 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: Britain First, hate crime, News

‘The State’ – Islamic State Drama Showed How Faith Is Twisted to Develop a Cult

‘The State’ was shown over 4 nights. The work of Peter Kosminsky, it is a harrowing insight into how faith is used and manipulated to create a framework of deadly destruction and intimidation and it also highlights the naivety of people caught up in a belief that the ‘Caliphate’ is finally here.

‘The State’ highlights a number of things which includes demonstrating how young people are manipulated and how for some, the journey ultimately leads to violence and a brutal death. For others, it shows a manipulation of their ‘ideals’ that they believe will be reached through groups like the Islamic State and which lead nowhere but to the brutalisation of others. Yet, the show also highlights something of importance – the chaos that has bred groups like IS in the Middle East and how within chaos, groups that promote nihilism and fear, can take root.

The show makes uncomfortable viewing. It is uncomfortable since it shows how faith can be manipulated, decontextualised and made devoid of any human spirit. It also shows how easy it is for people to be sucked into a cult, the cult of IS murder and death that was so evident in the show.

Finally, the ending where Shakira Boothe returns to the UK with her soon, Isaac, only to be detained, points to one single over-arching conclusion. However much Shakira tried to protect Isaac from harm, in the end, by taking him to the so-called Islamic State, she had put them both directly in danger. The ending where the intelligence officer says that she has been a bad mother sums up the reality. Any parent putting their child in direct danger, is in effect, neglecting their parenting duties and giving their children a potential death sentence. ‘The State’ was therefore a welcome addition to the ongoing public discussions around extremism.


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Categories: Caliphate, Channel 4, Iraq, Islamic State, Middle East, Opinions, Peter Kosminsky, Syria

Launch of Guide on Hate Crimes Demonstrating Strong Partnership Working

The following guide which has been published by the Community Security Trust and co-authored by the Crown Prosecution Service, Tell MAMA and the Department of Communities and Local Government, provides guidance and advice for victims and witnesses of hate crimes. It highlights the processes and procedures for reporting in hate crimes and outlines the routes by which statutory bodies such as the police and Crown Prosecution Service work with victims. It is a guide which ensures that the rights of victims are protected and maintained.

Though the guide has a focus on anti-Muslim hatred and antisemitism, its advice can, and should, be used by anybody who has suffered any kind of hate crime, which can occur due to race, religion, sexuality, age, disability, gender or any other characteristic.

Tell MAMA, the CST and many other agencies have repeatedly stated, that as levels of reported hate crime continues to grow in the UK, collaborative efforts to educate and inform those affected by it are increasingly important.

Introductory statements within the guide include:

Iman Atta OBE, Director Tell MAMA

We have seen a rise over the last five years in the reporting of anti-Muslim hatred. Tell MAMA has been at the vanguard of supporting victims of anti-Muslim hatred, whilst collecting evidence and mapping, monitoring and measuring incidents across the United Kingdom. Through partnership work in the production of materials such as this guide, we hope that we can collectively make it easier for people to report, take charge and feel confident when they report hate incidents. We stand together with other communities in working to counter hatred, intolerance and bigotry.

David S Delew, Chief Executive, CST

Despite our best efforts to combat all forms of hate crime and hate incidents, levels of antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred in the UK are unfortunately on the rise. CST works hard to protect, support and inform victims of antisemitism. This collaborative guide will be an important tool for all those affected by hate crime in understanding their rights, and how to navigate the complicated criminal justice system.

Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Communities Secretary:

Hate crime against any community is entirely unacceptable. Everyone in this country has a right to live without fear of abuse or attack and we must, as a nation, firmly condemn hate crimes and all other forms of bigotry. It is vital that victims have the confidence to report crimes to the Police. This Government is committed to making sure that those who perpetuate hate are subject to the full force of the law – but we cannot do this alone. This guide is an example of how we can work together to stamp out hate crime and support victims in bringing their cases forward so that justice can be served.

Alison Saunders CB, Director of Public Prosecutions, Crown Prosecution Service:

We want communities and individuals to have the confidence to come forward and report these offences, no matter how minor they may appear. This guide is an important way of ensuring that victims can make informed decisions about the most appropriate course of action, taking account of their particular personal circumstances. Hate crime divides communities and the CPS has an absolute commitment to bring perpetrators to justice and support victims and witnessed through the criminal justice system.

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Categories: anti-Semitism, Antisemitism, Community Cohesion, CPS, CST, disability hate, Far Right groups, guide, hate crime, homophobia, Jews, LGBT hate, News, reports, victims

Hezbollah uses drones against IS in Syria – Hezbollah-run media

Lebanon’s Hezbollah used drones to strike Islamic State in Syria close to the border with Lebanon, a military media unit it runs said on Monday, their first public declaration that they had used such a weapon.

Hezbollah deployed the drones to hit Islamic State positions, bunkers and fortifications in the Western Qalamoun area near the border with Lebanon, achieving direct hits, the military media unit said.

An official in the military alliance fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Reuters it was the first time Hezbollah had declared its use of the weapons.

Footage released by the media unit seemingly taken from a drone, showed two types of munition, one of them with a tail fin, dropping towards the ground and explosions as they hit.

Early on Saturday Hezbollah and the Syrian army began an operation against an Islamic State enclave straddling the border with Lebanon in Syria’s Western Qalamoun.

The Lebanese army began a separate but simultaneous operation against the same jihadist pocket from inside Lebanon.

Any joint operation between the Lebanese army on the one hand and the Syrian army on the other would be politically sensitive in Lebanon and could jeopardise the U.S. military aid the country receives.

Islamic State holds the last militant pocket on the border after a Hezbollah offensive last month that forced Nusra Front militants to leave for rebel-held Idlib province in Syria.

Northeastern Lebanon was the scene of one of the worst spillovers from Syria’s civil war in 2014 when Islamic State and Nusra Front militants attacked the town of Arsal.

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Categories: Arsal, drones, Hezbollah, Islamic State, Lebanon, News, Nusra, Shia, Sunni

Trump clears way for troop increase in Afghanistan as part of retooled strategy

President Donald Trump was likely to open the door on Monday to a modest increase in U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan, where America is fighting its longest military conflict.

In the past, Trump, who took office in January, was critical of former Democratic President Barack Obama’s approach to Afghanistan, saying the United States should not be nation-building and calling for Obama to withdraw troops.

Obama also had evolving views, first committing an increase of tens of thousands of U.S. troops to reverse Taliban gains, then committing to a troop draw down that he was unable to complete before leaving office.

Following are some of Trump’s comments on the war, before and after he launched his White House run in June 2015.

Oct 7, 2011 – When will we stop wasting our money on rebuilding Afghanistan? We must rebuild our country first. (Posted on Twitter, during a year when Obama’s troop surge had taken U.S. troop levels to more than 100,000.)

Feb 27, 2012 – It is time to get out of Afghanistan. We are building roads and schools for people that hate us. It is not in our national interests. (Posted on Twitter)

Jan 1, 2013 – Can you believe that the Afghan war is our “longest war” ever—bring our troops home, rebuild the U.S., make America great again (Posted on Twitter)

March 1, 2013 – We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first. (Posted on Twitter)

Dec 1, 2014 – Now Obama is keeping our soldiers in Afghanistan for at least another year. He is losing two wars simultaneously. (Posted on Twitter)

March 3, 2016 – I think you have to stay in Afghanistan for a while, because of the fact that you’re right next to Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons, and we have to protect that. Nuclear weapons change the game. (Said during a debate among Republican presidential candidates, when asked if he would withdraw troops from Afghanistan)

July 18, 2017 – We’ve been there for now close to 17 years, and I want to find out why we’ve been there for 17 years, how it’s going, and what we should do in terms of additional ideas. I’ve heard plenty of ideas from a lot of people, but I want to hear it from the people on the ground. (Said during a meeting with service members to discuss Afghanistan.)

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Categories: Afghanistan, News, President Barack Obama, terrorism, Trump

How the CPS intends to crack down on online hate crime

Revised prosecutor guidelines for England and Wales intends to bring parity to the seriousness of online hate crimes as abuse committed on the street.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), will seek sterner punishments for offences committed on major social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.

Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, writing for the Guardian, said: “we must remember the common thread that links online purveyors of hate with those who commit physical hate crimes.”

Acknowledging that social media abuse, will, and cannot be prosecuted in the same manner as physical violence, the CPS recognises the deep harm online hate creates.

In 2015, Tell MAMA commissioned academics to look at the experiences of online and street-based anti-Muslim hate, bigotry, and racism. It found individuals fearful that the online abuse would have real-world consequences. Others changed their identity in public. In one example, one Muslim woman would wear a hat to disguise their hijab.

The CPS continues to have strong free speech protections, urging caution on charging individuals under section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

The new guidance will give witnesses and victims a better sense of the law.

Cases should carry the same “robust and proactive approach” to street-based crime.

There are some exceptions, however, including cases involving children who may not understand the severity or potential harm caused.

This revised approach will continue to look at ways to identify the ‘agitators’ and ‘disseminators’ of online abuse. For example, to encourage others to tweet or retweet ‘grossly offensive’ messages may fall foul of the Serious Crime Act 2007.

Other examples include the creation of hashtags that may encourage a campaign of harassment.

Hate crime relates to the perception of victims or other individuals when the motivation for criminal offences has demonstrable hostility towards a person’s ‘protected characteristics’ or assumed identity – disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

Online abuse can result in custodial sentences. Timothy Burton, 64, was jailed for 12 weeks in April, after sending anti-Muslim tweets and emails to Tell MAMA’s founder Fiyaz Mughal OBE.

In 2015/16, the CPS completed 15,442 hate crime prosecutions, its highest-ever total. In that same year, the conviction rate for hate crimes grew slightly to 83.2 per cent. The CPS has also seen an uptake in hate crime sentence uplifts.

Join the conversation with the hashtags ‘#Hatecrimematters’ and ‘#No2h8’.

Members of the public can report anti-Muslim abuse they’ve seen or experienced in confidence via our online form or contact us through Facebook or Twitter.

Hate crime can be reported through 999 in an emergency, by dialling 101 in a non-emergency, directly at a police station, or using True Vision online.

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Categories: CPS, hate crime, Islamohpobia, law, News

Birmingham City Council removes racist, anti-Muslim graffiti

Birmingham City Council has removed racist, anti-Muslim graffiti after Tell MAMA requested its removal this week.

As previously reported, locals in the Small Heath area had uploaded photos of the graffiti to Facebook on August 12.

Yesterday, a Tell MAMA outreach officer for the West Midlands visited the area to confirm its removal.

The graffiti was reported to our service over the weekend.

Thankfully, the original graffiti is now largely illegible.

Days earlier, some locals did their best to cover-up the racial slur ‘P*ki’ and crude references to paedophilia.

A local photographed the efforts of some to cover the racist graffiti over the weekend of August 12.

Anyone can report graffiti in public areas – be it on bins, benches, and public buildings – to their local council. Birmingham City Council allows residents to request the removal of graffiti online.

We thank the local council for acting to remove this hateful and racist graffiti

Hate crime can be reported through 999 in an emergency, by dialling 101 in a non-emergency, directly at a police station, or using True Vision online.

You can get advice through 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: Anti-Muslim graffiti, Birmingham, hate crime, News, vandalism