Interfaith solidarity is a fight worth fighting

Solidarity costs nothing but can mean everything. Against the snarling packs of extremists flanking both sides of a hostile debate, the significance of maintaining a common bond with those from a different group but facing prejudice is precious. In these times, it’s sometimes all we have.

Last night, an exhibition was held at the Jewish Community Centre in Finchley Road to honour Holocaust Memorial Day. There was music and food and stories. There was a sombre but hopeful tone to the evening. The atrocities inflicted upon Jews in Europe are a stain on the continent’s soul and a memory that can and must never be forgotten. Millions were murdered for the world to learn the need for human rights and fair treatment of minorities. Unfortunately, we live in a time of increased polarisation where hate and bigotry are once again being fanned by those too irresponsible with their positions of power and influence. Even the Holocaust is whitewashed as a crime against humanity rather than an atrocity that focused primarily on Jews.

The Jewish community is again being assailed by hate crime. Across any society, find how they treat women, gays and Jews, and you get a rough idea of how they are as a nation. And unfortunately, in Britain, hate and intolerance of Jews has never completely dissolved and is once again climbing. A combination of Islamist rhetoric and far-left populism has made Jews the “Other” for which all the ills and wrongs of society are placed upon.

Which is why last night’s exhibition was fundamental to the construction of interfaith tolerance and community cohesion. It celebrated the solidarity that existed when Muslims saved as many Jews as they could from persecution during the Holocaust. The stories were spread across Europe but articulated different families selflessly and courageously risking their safeties to protect Jews.

And it was made all the more special after a mosque in Golders Green had been pressured by extremists into not holding the exhibition. It was a sore point, a blow for those who believe in a pluralistic and mutualist society in which differences are not seen as irreconcilable. But, as I said before, solidarity costs nothing but can mean everything. Another mosque, in Redbridge, stepped forward and hosted the event.

In the grand scheme of things this can seem like a small story washed away by the relentless tide of news stories on Brexit. But it’s a story of solidarity and attachment to each other beyond the exclusionary and narrow labels of identity. In the time of extremism and racism, these are the stories that we cling onto as hope that the pluralistic society is still achievable and that empathy with others is a virtuous feature of human behaviour. There was something saddening in visiting the Jewish Community Centre, a beautiful family-orientated institution, and realising they needed security because they weren’t safe. No people should ever have to apologise for who they were. But I was also heartened by the exhibition, reassured by the possibility that a future of coexistence with different groups is still something people yearn for. The attachment to a community is the transcendent feeling that can bring people together, whatever their faiths. This exhibition was about Muslims who saved Jews from persecution. But it can mean so much about where we want to go forward as a society.

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Categories: Brexit, Golders Green, Holocaust, interfaith, Opinions, Redbridge

High inequality will only worsen extremism in the UK

The aches of austerity have not been evenly felt in Britain but fallen hardest on the deprived communities in north of England. Here, towns are enduring the highest poverty rates and weakest economies, this according to a study. Its readings are a terrible forecast for post-Brexit Britain and should make governments gravely concerned about what austerity is doing to social inequality and further creating a divide between people.

The study by the Centre for Cities thinktank found areas such as Liverpool, Blackburn and Barnsley were facing cuts that on average were twice that of areas in the more prosperous south. Amidst a storm of council spending cuts, the poorest areas in the north faced the worst of it as local authority spending slumped nationally by half since 2010.

The sense of a regional fissure in England is only reinforced by the study which highlighted the extent of cuts to public services provided by local councils in the poorer areas compared to the more affluent regions primarily southward. This only further cements the sense that austerity was exclusively the poor paying for the mistakes of those at the top.

In a breakdown of the study, the five areas that endured the most dramatic spending slumps since the beginning of austerity have been those from the north: Barnsley (-40%), Liverpool (-32%), Doncaster (-31%), Wakefield (-30%) and Blackburn (-27%).  The overall national average is -14.3%.

This should not highlight somewhere like London as cocooned from the effects of austerity. The capital has endured the biggest absolute cuts with £3.9bn peeled from investment on services by its boroughs. The study showed that despite bearing only 16% of the national population, London had shouldered 30% of all local government cuts in Britain.

There are two worrying aspects to this, both economically and socially. The socioeconomic concern should be that Britain’s working class are further falling into the mires of poverty, despite most of those in it being in work. Against the backdrop of severe cuts, household budgets are further depleted by the chronic housing crisis which is fuelling demand in the private rent sector and allowing landlords to charge exorbitant rents. Within the workplace there is a lack of dignity at the lower end of the labour market where wages are not enough to sustain costs of living, and the threat of the axe always hangs over their head. There is a crippling sense of insecurity and powerlessness as people feel they are no longer stakeholders in their own society. In this sense, Brexit seems entirely understandable.

But there is also the risk that austerity-induced inequality left unattended by policymakers leaves a gap for extremists to offer radical and dangerous solutions that tear the fabrics of our society. Six years of polling by the anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate discovered that a rise in far-right extremist thinking centred around immigration and Islam was growing. They also found that negative attitudes towards both existed largely in post-industrial towns with negative attitudes correlating closely with economic deprivation.

Some of this is explained by the concentration of demographics in certain areas. It’s often said that towns with lowest rates of immigration often have the worst views. This makes sense. Greater interactions with immigrants and Muslims that foster a sense of mutual acceptance are unlikely to prompt support in the far-right. But in areas that have been left behind by successive governments and globalisation, where they don’t have enough contact with immigrants and Muslims, their images of who these people are is likely to be constructed by what they read and hear. And given the proliferation of anti-Muslim prejudice in certain sections of the media combined with dangerously inflammatory rhetoric used by some right-wing politicians, it’s not surprising that there are many who feel that groups like Muslims are an external threat to their local communities. This is perpetuated by terrorist attacks or shocking revelations of child grooming gangs. It leads to many seeing a degradation of national values and security caused by Muslims. They don’t see Muslims as part of their communities, but rather an alien limb attached to the body in need of being hacked off.

This underlines that there is a need on two different fronts for political parties to offer solutions to inequality. On a purely nationally self-interested note, it is bad for the economy. A society built on structures of low wage, weak workers’ rights and housing insecurity is not one with consumer confidence. A well-paid economy tends to stimulate local growth by encouraging consumers to reinvest their earnings into their local economies. But in times of austerity, a culture of saving for the unattainable house or paying rising rents, this is likely to not happen. The other side of it is that extremists recognise the resentment festering within impoverished post-industrial towns. These were once areas brimming with self-sustaining growth, security and a sense of communal solidarity and pride. The great industrial hubs roared with economic activity, and sometimes generations from grandfathers to fathers and sons found their stakes in society through the industries. They created deep social bonds between people in that they were labouring together. Unlike the modern job of the private and individualised cubicle in the workplace, the industries were the jobs of collectivism. And they provided communities with ways to live harmoniously. But in leaving these towns to rust amidst fast-paced globalisation and then imposing savage cuts on these towns, we have opened them up to the risk of being exploited by far-right movements who shift the blame away from the elitist institutions that failed them to their fellow migrant workers and the Muslim family down the road.

This is not the sign of a healthy society. We should be concerned by where we are going. Fostering a sense of community cohesion is facilitated not least by making people feel like their membership in it is valued, that they are its long-term stakeholders.

– Written by Rabbil Sikdar

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Categories: Opinions

One In 20 Does Not Believe Holocaust Took Place – Survey

One in 20 UK adults does not believe the Holocaust took place, a survey suggests, while one in 12 believes its scale has been exaggerated.

Almost two-thirds of respondents (64%) either could not say how many Jews were murdered or “grossly” under-estimated the number, a survey of more than 2,000 people by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) found.

On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people, including survivors, politicians and members of the public, will gather to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and remember its six million Jewish victims.

More than 11,000 activities are expected to take place, while ceremonies will be held in London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A national commemorative ceremony will take place in Westminster to mark the day, which is also acknowledging the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda and 40 years since the end of the genocide in Cambodia.

Holocaust survivor Steven Frank, who was one of 93 children who survived the Theresienstadt camp in Czechoslovakia along with his two brothers, said the figures were “terribly worrying”.

His father, who helped hide Jews as part of the Dutch Resistance, was arrested in Amsterdam and taken to Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland, where he was gassed on January 21 1943.

Mr Frank, 83, said he was “surprised” that the survey found as many as one in 20 people still did not believe the Holocaust took place.

He said: “In my experience, people don’t have a solid understanding of what happened during the Holocaust and that’s one of the reasons I am so committed to sharing what happened to me.

“At one of my talks, I met someone who said the Holocaust didn’t happen.

The only way to fight this kind of denial and anti-Semitism is with the truth – I tell people what happened, what I saw and what I experienced.

“Education is so important. If we ignore the past, I fear history will repeat itself.”

HMDT chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman said: “The Holocaust threatened the fabric of civilisation and has implications for us all.

Such widespread ignorance and even denial is shocking.

“Without a basic understanding of this recent history, we are in danger of failing to learn where a lack of respect for difference and hostility to others can ultimately lead.

“With a rise in reported hate crime in the UK and ongoing international conflicts with a risk of genocide, our world can feel fragile and vulnerable. We cannot be complacent.”

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:

“We know that education is vital in the fight against ignorance and hate.

“Whatever the statistics, one person questioning the truth of the Holocaust is one too many and so it is up to us to redouble our efforts to ensure future generations know that it did happen and become witnesses to one of the darkest episodes in our history.”

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, who will be speaking at Sunday’s event, said: “It remains essential now as ever to remember the Holocaust, to understand why it happened and to learn the stark lessons it gives.

“We must never forget where hatred and bigotry can lead.”

He added: “This Government is clear that anti-Semitism has no place in our society and we all have a role to play in confronting hatred and extremism whenever and wherever it occurs.”

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Categories: Holocaust, Holocaust Memorial, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, News

Muslim woman in niqab denied entry onto bus with her child in London

A Muslim woman, who wears the niqab, was told by a bus driver in London, ‘I don’t want to talk to you, with that thing on your face’, after asking the driver if her child could board the bus with her despite losing her Oyster card.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, the Muslim woman, who agreed to remain anonymous, described her anger, and challenged the driver, accusing her of being a ‘racist’, adding that she can indeed speak English. When she asked the driver to repeat her discriminatory statement, but she refused.

She recalled how the driver had attempted to shut the doors of the bus on her, and then refused to provide her with any details.

The woman, however, was able to note down the vehicle registration and time of the incident.

The bus driver, described as being in her 40s, spoke with a European accent.

Tell MAMA will be writing to Transport for London (TfL) on her behalf.

Reports of discrimination to Tell MAMA has risen by 111.76% in just two years, with 34 verified reports of discrimination in 2015, compared to 72 reports in 2017. In the interim reporting period of 2018, Tell MAMA verified 40 reports of discrimination.

Tell MAMA has continued to document the abuse, discrimination, and attacks Muslim women, who wear the niqab experience.

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: discrimination, News, Niqab, TFL

Islamic State says it attacked soldiers, captured Christian in Sinai

Islamic State carried out an attack on Egyptian security forces in Sinai a week ago and captured a Christian criminal research expert, the militant group said

The man was involved in the government’s campaign against militants, the group said in its weekly newspaper al-Naba, published on Thursday. It gave no further details.

The attack took place on Jan. 18, west of al-Arish, the capital of the North Sinai province, the group said. One Egyptian officer was killed and two soldiers injured, it said, adding several Egyptian soldiers had been killed or wounded in the past week.

Two security sources in northern Sinai confirmed the incident, saying three security personnel were killed. The Christian man was riding a bus when he was captured, they said.

On Tuesday, the military said Egyptian security forces had killed 59 militants in the Sinai peninsula recently and had lost seven of their own men.

The figures covered the “last period”, the military said without specifying dates or locations of operations. It did not give the identity of suspects or their affiliation.

Egypt’s military says several hundred militants have been killed since it launched a major campaign in February last year to defeat militants linked to Islamic State in Sinai.

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Categories: Christian, Egyptian Security Forces, Islamic State, News, North Sinai, Sinai

Countering extremism requires empathy and consistency

Yesterday, an interesting and fruitful discussion on the battle against extremism took place in Twitter HQ, held by Faith Matters. The debate included speeches from Sara Khan and others and focused on the twofold fight against Islamist and far-right extremism.

The discussion offered a range of fascinating insights into the depth of the problem confronting society, and the possible ways around it. Some did involve the social media tech giants becoming more involved against online extremism fermenting itself increasingly. Others warned about the deep reach of Islamists wielded through various charities. We had important interventions, and two that seemed most noteworthy.

The first came from the pro-refugee activist and liberal Muslim Oz Katerji who offered important rebuttals on the terminology of Islamophobia offering protection from the criticism of the religion. Too often the debate becomes mired in this deflective discourse and ultimately the losers from it are only British Muslims themselves. Anti-Muslim prejudice is a scourge in our society, and one of the fueling stones for the far-right. It is enabled by largely the Conservative Party, who dating back to Winston Churchill and beyond have always regarded Islam, and often by extension Muslims, in a deeply cynical manner. Katerji was also correct in disputing the moral conflation of the far-left and far-right. An important distinction must be made between those belonging to the deeply socialist strand of the anti-fascist left and those from a background of apologia for Stalinism and other corrosive totalitarian movements that exist today and stand in opposition to western interests.

We need to be more consistent in challenging white supremacist extremism in this country. Although Islamist terrorism has plagued Britain in recent years, the everyday hate crime attacks on British Muslims by, often, young white perpetrators cannot be ignored. British Muslims have faced increased levels of racism, and although there have been commendable efforts by local police forces and political parties to address this, part of that is listening to British Muslims and recognising the great threat of far-right extremism. Given the rise in referrals to Prevent for far-right views, we should be gravely concerned by the nature of our discourse. Some might say that the fishing net has been cast further and wider, no longer simply targeting British Muslims, but there is a growing sense that an increasing number of Britons regarding their fellow British Muslim citizens with a degree of suspicion and doubt.

Which brings to the rather fantastic speech by Sunny Hundal who spoke about empathy. This is after all the basic fundamental virtue of a society governed by representative democracy, and one that is essentially a broad coalition of diverse groups and interests. Bridging the gap between a socially conservative white voter and an immigrant Muslim is not easy. But it is only achieved through empathetic politics, on seeking grounds where possible mutualism can exist and flourish, on creating a sense of community and attachment to people and place. Extremists are atomised, at least in the sense that their fidelity owes itself to a narrow exclusionary group through which they understand their grievances with the world and express their status in it and relations to others. Muslim extremists and far-right supremacists preach about a fundamental divide between Muslims and non-Muslims, stirring panic about how Muslims few democracy and human rights. But it bases itself on stoking social exclusion, on feeding off the sense of marginalisation and isolation that exists. No-go zones are a myth in this country, but that doesn’t mean groups don’t seek security and solidarity with those they have greater cultural affiliation with. This is fine to an extent, except where it creates disconnect with other groups. And then we stop understanding and empathising with each other’s concerns. Sunny Hundal superbly articulated the need for understanding other people’s concerns, because there is nothing better for extremists than unattended grievances.

We have a long way to go but this would be a good step towards having a pluralistic and harmonious society.

– Written by Rabbil Sikdar

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Categories: News

Concerns raised over event sponsored by far-right Polish radio host

Members of the Polish community have expressed concerns about the antisemitic and anti-Muslim views of a radio host who is sponsoring a cultural event on January 27 in London.

Piotr Szlachtowicz, who hosts the online radio show ‘The Nowy Polski Show’, has described Islam as a ‘murderous ideology’, a ‘Nazi ideology’, and ranted about the so-called ‘Islamisation’ of Luton.

When describing a visit to the high-street retailer Primark, he remarked: “I felt like I was in Asia, women with covered faces, white people were a minority.”

Translations of his speeches were provided to Faith Matters as part of our ongoing research into far-right elements among Polish communities here in the UK, and in Poland.

His radio show has broadcasted shows titled “Why do Jews Hate the Poles!?”, “Jews started a war against Poland and Poles!”, and “How Jews spit in Poland’s face!”.

On January 29, 2018, Szlachtowicz interviewed the disgraced former priest Jacek Międlar, in a show titled “Jews have taken their masks off”. Międlar has on two occasions, attempted to enter the UK to speak at far-events but was detained at the airport and denied entry on both occasions due to his racist, anti-Muslim, and antisemitic views. Further examples of his hateful views appear in the Faith Matters report The Changing Face of Hate in Poland: From Antisemitism to Anti-Muslim Racism.

It was during his appearance on The Nowy Polski Show that Miedlar claimed: “The Talmud, a fundamental book for Jews, is a book of hate, racism and xenophobia and, as a Christian, it is my mission to educate people that we are threatened by hate and exploitation.”

Międlar then added, “I thought I was going to the UK, not to Israel”, and that Border Force officers were, in fact, ‘Jewish Special Branch’.

Szlachtowic’s radio show sponsored an event in Slough which listed Jacek Międlar as a keynote speaker, another speaker listed was Leszek Żebrowski, a controversial historian who has links to the neo-fascist National Radical Camp (ONR) group in Poland.

Nor is Szlachtowicz above indulging antisemitic conspiracy thinking. When he appeared on the online far-right media outlet wRealu24, on April 30, 2018, he said: “I was initially very sceptical about claims that Jews are taking over Poland or that they are actually ruling Poland.

“Although I was aware that after World War II the communist Secret Service comprised mostly of people of Jewish origin, but those claims were not convincing to me and I didn’t even feel like debating them.

But to be honest, the thing that woke me up was the speech of Ambassador Azari and then the wave of orchestrated hate campaigns about Poles allegedly being responsible for the Holocaust, etc. So, I think we’re done and dusted now.”

The host of this wRealu24 show is Marcin Rola, who appeared in an investigation by Newsnight last year which found that the Polish Embassy in London had part-funded an event that gave a platform to far-right extremists.

Rola has made several hateful comments about Islam and Muslims, including “in Islam, paedophilia is their daily bread”.

He was photographed with Szlachtowicz in Leeds last June. Both men appear together in a photograph shared on Rola’s Facebook page on November 15, 2018.

The conspiracy thinking of Szlachtowicz also extends to Muslims. In December 2017, he wrote: “Muslim community leaders speak about love and peace officially, but it has been proven beyond any doubt that it’s just a cover. In a few significant places, Muslims have already taken power. There are really large areas outside London where they democratically enforce their laws and way of life on others.”

He also claimed, “Terrorist attacks are not incidental, it’s a planned war aimed at destabilising the UK and showing the non-Muslim part of society that Muslims are taking over and their rules will soon reign in the whole of the country.” He added, “soon the Islamic crescent will hang over all of the UK.”

On the Facebook page of Piotr Szlachtowicz, Faith Matters found pro-Tommy Robinson content.

And, among the names on his friend’s list, includes Kristof Jastrzembski, secretary of Komitet Obrony Polski UK, or the Committee for Defence of Poland UK, which has campaigned for the release of the notorious Szlachtowicz Polish white supremacist who murdered an anti-Apartheid activist in South Africa in 1993 in hopes of triggering a race war.

Regarding the far-right terrorist Darren Osborne, Szlachtowicz opined: “I try to understand a normal Brit who has been hearing for months that Islamist murders of innocent people couldn’t be named for what they were. Media and politicians have been denying reality in the name of political correctness, trying to explain the motivation of terrorists instead of condemning the guilty.

This state of affairs had to affect indigenous Brits. Their frustration grows and the government’s helplessness and political correctness breed this kind of situations. Someone is depriving Brits of their own country, telling them they have to accept it.”

Other examples of hate speech shown to Faith Matters includes Szlachtowicz referring to refugees as, “a horde of savages who think they are entitled to everything and can’t be punished for any crime”.

Faith Matters is indebted to members of the Polish community for their translations, and working to expose far-right extremists, Facebook pages like Wszyscy Równi UK, are countering such messages online.

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Categories: News

Leftist internationalism is at its weakest point

Sometimes things have to be reread in a different climate and context to be appreciated properly. Disparaging an idea is easy when there isn’t anything intellectually pressing you or requiring some sort of ethical and moral legwork on your beliefs. That also itself involves introspection and the willingness to analyse and identify mistakes.

That is how, as an anti-Stalinist leftist, I view Nick Cohen’s “What’s Left” book. I initially read it as a teenager and found it hard to digest. I regarded it as dressing up imperialism in warm words of internationalist solidarity. The book did not have the imprint it deserved to. As it happens, it didn’t need to. The cannibalism of the left under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party has done that.

If you read Cohen’s book you see it as a chilling dark prophecy on what was to come. A foreshadowing of ugly events and behaviours chronicled in an excellent book that explored the ugly heart of left-wing politics in the west. And from it, a morsel of enlightenment can creep upon you, a nagging realisation that there is something profoundly distasteful about the left today in how it views the conflicts of the world.

As we speak, events are uncoiling rapidly in Venezuela. A push to remove the elected dictator Maduro by an opposition leader with considerable democratic legitimacy. It is something fervently supported by thousands of Venezuelans, exhausted with the industrialised levels of poverty and political corruption feeding into the country’s sickly nature. This is surely something the left should support. But many would look at the protesting masses and instead believe they have been whipped up by the CIA, and regard this all as a regime change pushed by America.

The left regards its internationalism simply through the prism of struggling against American imperialism. This is not a new behaviour but one that accelerated after the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003, which seemed to obliterate from history any successful intervention that had ever taken place. America are seen as the unipolar force in the world, the spider at the centre of the corrupt web spinning the chaos of the global free market, pumping American propaganda everywhere. They are to be resisted. This is, in theory, a noble principle to be observed but its ethical collapse comes in the inconsistent application of resistance to dictators and imperialists.

We live in a world of multipolar powers, and one of them includes Russia. The problem with viewing America as the sole cause of suffering is that it reduces other actors on the political scene to reactionary agents, no matter how barbaric they may be. We have seen this repeatedly where high-profile left-wing commentators have absolved Russia for blame in Ukraine or Syria, the latter witnessing a brutal genocide yet receiving limited support. And we have seen it with dictators across countries like Iran, Syria, North Korea, Libya, Cuba and Venezuela where an autocratic leader can generate international sympathy if they pin their grievances on the west.

In Syria this had the double-edged effect of benefiting ISIS who could correctly say to Sunnis terrified of Assad that they were the only shield. In fact, the only time western leftists have protested violence in Syria has been to condemn air strikes on Assad’s murderous facilities. Likewise, in Venezuela they have ignored the terrible spread of poverty only to speak up now as Trump backs regime change.

This is not internationalist solidarity with indigenous people. This is fidelity to their local oppressive structures, to the states rather than people. This is subordinating human rights, democracy and liberty to the sovereignty of the state, all essentially a production of postcolonial guilt whereby leftists felt morally obliged to prevent their countries ever getting involved overseas.

This behaviour ultimately rewards three types of people: the extremists in the Muslim world who can claim they are the only salvation to those being hunted and oppressed by their tyrants. The dictators in their local strongholds who keep hold of power and project themselves as victims of American aggression rather than directly responsible for the suffering of their people. And it benefits Russia, whose quiet yet aggressive imperialist surges across the world continue to go unchecked because too many on the left misunderstand what it means today to be an internationalist.

The problem with this behaviour is that it doesn’t just apply on a global stage but occurs locally too. In Britain, the tendency for the left to get in bed with Islamists over their shared anger towards America has left to the betrayal of liberal Muslims, Muslim feminists and ex-Muslims. The Labour Party is guilty of this, with local branches often accused of seeking Islamist votes and refusing to defend basic principles of liberalism and democracy. It is the culturally relativist left which sees no problem in theocracy and the subjugation of women and homosexuals because it is that of another culture. This is not solidarity, it is not internationalism. The rise in anti-Muslim hate in Britain is truly frightening and signals a dark road ahead for those committed to a more pluralistic and tolerant Britain. But let’s be clear: the threat to pluralism and tolerance doesn’t just come from the white far-right. It also arrives dangerously from Islamists who regard democracy and human rights as false desires, who disregard women’s rights and do not believe in homosexuality. They regard non-Muslims as inferior and would in all likelihood kill apostates. But we have no problem sharing platforms with them in the fight against racism and the Tories. This is not a distant observation but an opinion moulded by discussions and lived experiences.

If you look closely at how the left warmly receives Islamists and ignores liberal Muslims and then how it supports tyrants and not the masses, you realise they believe democracy and freedoms to be too complex for us. We are a simpler people who cannot handle freedoms and need a ruler with an iron fist.

If we want to build a cohesive coalition of support with the democrats, socialists and feminists of the Muslim world and the global south, we cannot only listen to them when their oppressors are backed by the Americans. An Iranian feminist is as valid in her struggle as a Saudi democrat. A Syrian communist is no less legitimate in their protests against their brutal rule than a Palestinian protester determined to end the occupation. Likewise, a liberal Muslim deserves an audience to their struggles against the Islamist as much as they do from a white supremacist.

– Written by Rabbil Sikdar

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Categories: News


A Labour MP said she has been threatened with being “gunned down” on the day a top Metropolitan Police officer warned about a “creeping rise” in far-right extremism as a result of Brexit.

Melanie Onn, MP for Great Grimsby, shared on Twitter the message she received from a member of the public, who had given the name Helen.

It read: “‘You are a f****** traitor you silly f****** bitch. We will remember your actions you spineless shit. Watch your back or you will not be forgiven. TRAITOR.’”

The MP said the same person sent a follow-up email including the

message: “The likes of you should be f****** gunned down.”

Ms Onn, who came out against a second referendum earlier this week,

added: “Everyone in Grimsby knows I’ve never backed down from a debate, even when I’ve had unpopular POV (including in referendum), but we must be allowed to have an opinion without this nonsense.”

Jo Cox, who was Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was killed after being repeatedly shot and stabbed in Birstall in June 2016. Her killer, Thomas Mair, gave his name as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain” at his first court appearance.

Ms Onn’s comments came as Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Neil Basu, expressed his concerns that Brexit could lead to a “creeping rise” in far-right extremism.

Mr Basu said: “What’s most concerning me about Brexit is the potential to divide communities and set communities against each other.”

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have seen some of the behaviour from very, very small groups.

“If you think about what happened outside Parliament just before Christmas and just after Christmas, we had months of very peaceful, very lawful, no problems protest outside Parliament.

“Then a very small group of people managed to turn that atmosphere and that cannot be right. We must make absolutely sure that doesn’t happen.”

A number of cross-party MPs have reported experiencing abuse in recent weeks.

Among them was pro-EU Conservative MP Anna Soubry, who was called a “Nazi” by pro-Brexit protesters as she was interviewed outside Parliament earlier this month.

Nick Boles, MP for Grantham, received a death threat via his website,

declaring: “Your days are f****** numbered, traitor. Prepare to die.”

Mr Boles called the sender “inadequate” and added “if [they] knew anything about me he would realise I need no reminding that my days are numbered!”

Labour MP Stephen Doughty has called for “proper action” to be taken against those responsible for abuse outside Parliament, and organised a letter to Met Commissioner, Cressida Dick, signed by 55 MPs and criticising what they called “a lack of co-ordination in the response from the police and appropriate authorities.”

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Categories: News

Brexit Divisions Could Increase Far Right Extremism, Warns Police Chief

The divisive potential of Brexit could lead to a “creeping rise” in people being radicalised by far-right extremism, a police chief has warned.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said the “febrile” atmosphere surrounding Brexit could give rise to division, allowing a way in for far-right extremist ideology.

Mr Basu said there was no intelligence pointing to an increased risk of terror attacks after Brexit, but he was concerned about a potential rise in hate crime.

The head of UK counter-terrorism policing said: “What’s most concerning me about Brexit is its potential to divide communities and set communities against each other.

“So what we saw after the referendum (in 2016) was a rise in hate crime, and a rise in far-right rhetoric, and we have seen the growth of organisations like National Action, and what I want to make absolutely clear is that we are concentrating very heavily on making sure that doesn’t get a foothold in this country.

“I’m really proud to be a UK citizen in a country that is largely tolerant, and we haven’t seen an explosion in that threat.

“What I’m concerned about is the creeping rise of that threat, and if we aren’t clear that we are combating that threat then that’s my concern.

“It’s still a relatively small threat compared to what we have faced from al Qaida in the past and Islamic State over the last four years or so.”

Earlier this month Scotland Yard was forced to increase its presence in the political heart of London after Tory MP Anna Soubry was branded a Nazi by a mob during television interviews and was then followed to the Palace of Westminster.

Mr Basu acknowledged the policing in place at the time “wasn’t assertive enough to stop who were intent on being intimidating”.

It comes as Labour MP for Great Grimsby Melanie Onn tweeted some of the abuse she has received, calling her a “traitor” and warning her to “Watch your back as you will not be forgiven”.

Appealing for “calm reflection and debate”, Mr Basu told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have seen some of the behaviour from very, very small groups.

“If you think about what happened outside of Parliament just before Christmas and just after Christmas, we had months of very peaceful, very lawful, no problems protest outside Parliament.

“Then a very small group of people managed to turn that atmosphere and that cannot be right. We must make absolutely sure that doesn’t happen.”

Mr Basu said he finds the prospect of a no-deal Brexit “incredibly concerning”.

Leaving the European Union without continued access to shared data and intelligence systems would put the UK and Europe in a “very bad place”, he said.

Mr Basu said: “For counter-terrorism we have a lot of bilateral relationships, it is a devolved power for countries, it is not an EU power, so we are confident that my counterparts in those 27 countries want to exchange information with us and we are working very hard to make sure we put that in place.

“But nevertheless, to leave without … being able to exchange data or biometrics on people who might be criminals or terrorists would be a very bad place for this country, and for Europe, to be.”

Mr Basu said there was a central team working on contingency plans, while counter-terrorism police liaison officers were “embedded” in embassies and agencies in Europe.

He said: “They are working very hard with their counterparts to understand how we cope if there is a no-deal Brexit, but as I said, a no-deal Brexit for operational security would be a very bad thing.”

Mr Basu was speaking at the launch of a major cinema advert campaign to increase awareness of suspicious activity and encourage people to report it to police.

The 60-second film shows a series of scenarios, such as a man stockpiling hazardous material and another buying weapons, before rewinding and zooming in on the danger.

In 2017 and 2018, around a fifth of the information passed to police from the public had a “significant” role in thwarting attacks, he said.

Four far-right extremist plots and 14 Islamist terror plots were foiled in the last two years.

The post Brexit Divisions Could Increase Far Right Extremism, Warns Police Chief appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: Brexit, Met, Neil Basu, News, No-Deal Brexit, Rise in Hate Crime