Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Belief? – What Really Matters in the case of Netflix Messiah!

Freedom of speech is applied equally to everyone, but it seems not everyone is in favour of it being applied equally. This is no more true for Messiah than it is for anything else.”


The Metro newspaper ran a story of how the latest Netflix show Messiah has sparked demands for it to be banned as it is “anti-Islamic” and “blasphemous”. The petition calling for the ban was started by Zeynaba Dahir and has gained nearly 4,000 signatures within three weeks. A quick scan of those that have signed the petition shows that it is prima facie both Muslims and Christians that are in support of not only the ban, but boycotting Netflix, should it go ahead and air the show.

Messiah is set in the present day and is focused on a man that first appears in the Middle East. He is able to perform miracles and rapidly gains a growing following as a result. He is presented as the eschatological return of Isa (Jesus) or Mahdi. A CIA agent is then sent to uncover if he is the real thing or just a fraud.

Freedom of Belief

The calls to ban this show seem bizarre to me, it seems and it is difficult to argue against, that the protection of religion is the primary factor driving the petition. Looking at some of the comments, many have stated, that it is disrespectful to their religious beliefs and that it is disrespectful to both Islam and Christianity, given that they both accept Jesus, albeit with different roles.

However, as disrespectful as it may be, it is not an infringement on their beliefs. The show may not accord with what they accept, but it does not prevent them from exercising their own beliefs. Both Muslims and Christians are free to be critical of the show, the storyline and exercise their freedom to call for its ban, but that’s it. That’s all they can do really. It ‘s a show that they have not watched, but one in which they have already concluded that they do not like it, because they presume it disrespects their religion. But even if it does, so what?

Given that many of those complaining about the show have called it blasphemous, only goes to highlight the issue. Blasphemy is not a crime in the U.K. (thank God) and nor should it ever be. We would get nowhere if we were to ban everything that upset everyone, especially when it does not contravene the law. The fact that there are calls to ban the show only goes to show that we as a society, at least some parts of it, are progressing by regressing. We are turning back the clocks to a time when blasphemy would lead to the death penalty, though in this instance, it would lead to economic sanctions, e.g. boycotting Netflix.

In countries where there are literally blasphemy laws, we have seen the devastation it has caused. For example, take the case in Pakistan of Asia Bibi. She was accused of blasphemy, sentenced to death by hanging and then acquitted due to insufficient evidence. However, she was not able to leave Pakistan until a review had been completed. Thankfully, she has now arrived in Canada after being given asylum. More recently, we have seen another case in Pakistan of academic Junaid Hafeez. Accused of posting derogatory comments on social media about the Prophet Muhammed and he is now facing the death penalty as a result.  Of course, what I am certainly not saying here is that the same thing will happen in the U.K., rather I am highlighting the places that do take blasphemy so seriously, that it is part of their law and what happens as a result. Presumably, those signing the petition, are not in favour of the death penalty and would condemn it with the same furore that they are condemning Messiah? I hope so!

Freedom of Speech

What we enjoy in the West, far more so than in other parts of the world is freedom of speech. It is a right that many would die and have died to have. Not only do we have it, but it is also part of our constitutional law protected by human rights. Our freedom of speech allows us to be as respectful or disrespectful as we like, provided we do not incite hatred or violence. So to look at the case of Messiah, I am unclear how the incitement of hate or violence is applicable unless it was directed at religion?

Inciting hate against religion is really a non-issue because religion is not protected by the law, however, people of religious beliefs are. Even then, to claim that Messiah incites hatred, via the backdoor, towards individuals, is a tenuous claim- because to do so, would be to claim that both individuals and religions cannot be separated. This is false because a person can choose to enter and leave religion as they wish, whereas the same isn’t true for race or ethnicity, e.g. Asian, Black, Jewish etc…

Freedom of speech also gives people of religions, in this instance Muslims and Christians, the right to propagate their religion as they please, so long as it does not contravene the law. Freedom of speech is applied equally to everyone, but it seems not everyone is in favour of it being applied equally. This is no more true for Messiah than it is for anything else. The sheer hypocrisy from those signing this petition under the freedom to do so, are also the same ones not wanting Netflix to have the same freedom to put on Messiah. If Muslims and Christians are allowed to propagate their religion, then why can’t others do the same for their own beliefs, be they religious or not? This is the tension we are faced with- who’s right trumps whose?

The Law

The law is clear on this matter, the right to freedom of expression is ultimate. It does not discriminate between the two parties here, the religious and the producers of Messiah. To quote at length, Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 states the following:

“Freedom of expression

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
  2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”

Not only prima facie, but also on closer observation of the above legislation, I find it difficult how those signing the petition would apply this to their campaign. The show is innocuous, in the sense that it does not promote or incite violence or hate, but rather just tells the story of a religious character with a modern interpretation of it. Those that are offended by this, have the right to be offended, but in my view, their right of offence does not trump the right of the producers’ freedom of expression. It is probably why Zeynaba Dahir hasn’t yet sought to take this matter to court, because the merits of such a case appear to be non-existent. Thus- her only option is to apply economic sanctions via a boycott of Netflix.

Concluding Thoughts

The petition by Zeynaba Dahir, supported by many Muslims and Christians is a moral campaign, one which does not appear to have the merits to stand up in a court of law. So instead of taking it to court and probably losing, economic sanctions are therefore the next steps to prevent this innocuous program from airing. Fortunately for Netflix, their revenue stream is so large that this petition may not gain the publicity and support it requires to any meaningful impact.

But it is for us, both secular, religious and non-religious people to stand up against this moral posturing against a perfectly legitimate show in the name of freedom of expression because to not do so, would be to give in to the madness of group morality that is not in tune with the rest of modern society.

But I must conclude with this, a point that I think Zeynaba Dahir et al must consider carefully as they stridently push through with their “moral” campaign. Both their beliefs of Jesus are at odds with each other, blasphemous one would say, so why aren’t they proposing a ban on each others religion? The reason why they are not is because they are not willing to confront this reality with the same veracity as they are with this campaign. It is because it is a fight they are not willing to engage in because the odds appear less favourable than if they were going against Netflix. So instead they are happy to work together to defeat a common enemy, i.e. the producers of Messiah. In other words, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

The views in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Faith Matters. The author of the article, Wasiq, can be found on Twitter @WasiqUK

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Categories: Freedom of Belief, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, Messiah, Netflix, Opinions, Zeynaba Dahir

The Queen’s Speech: Counter-Terrorism – The Implications

The Conservative Government led by PM Boris Johnson with a majority of 80 have set out their legislative plan for the year in the Queen’s Speech. Amongst some of the most pressing matters the Government is expected to deal with, it is no surprise that terrorism is prominently featured.

With the recent London Bridge terrorist attack by Usman Khan, both the public and the authorities are rightly gathering their thoughts about how we deal with terrorists. The Queen sets out the Government’s position in this regard: “New sentencing laws will ensure the most serious violent offenders, including terrorists, serve longer in custody.”

Prima facie, it appears the Government are legislating in response to one event, rather than taking a long term and considered approach to terrorists. However, it is probably worth looking at what the proposals and implications are, before arriving at a conclusion as to how strong this move forward is.

The foundational thesis of the Counter Terrorism (Sentencing and Release) Bill (p, 64) is that the most serious terrorist offenders will stay in prison for longer. This is, of course, a move that will win a lot of public support, particularly from those that see it as the Government’s business to do whatever is needed to keep the public safe. However, there will be those that oppose this as a draconian measure, which infringes the human rights of terrorists in our system.

In an article about terrorists in prison I wrote for Kootneeti, I made the point that although we have policy measures in place to deal with terrorists in prison, neither of them are the most ideal; this is in reference to Usman Khan et al gaming the system. I further advance my argument that, unless we have qualified individuals with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to deal with radical terrorists, then our efforts may be fruitless.

Containing terrorist prisoners from the public may eliminate a direct threat by them because it reduces a very real physical threat they pose, but it doesn’t prevent copy cat or lone actors from carrying out their own or revenge attacks. In fact, it doesn’t eliminate terrorism at all.

The implication of this legislation, though well-intentioned, is that we may move towards a system of indeterminate sentences with little to no chance of release because we have no way out. This is a worrying aspect that needs to be considered. Prisons currently do not enjoy the luxury of unlimited prison spaces, this is backed by a report from the Howard League for Penal Reform in which it claims that 18,000 prisoners are living in cells designed for much fewer numbers.

The Prison Reform Trust, in their report Prison: the facts; reveal an alarming statistic in regards to safety in prisons. For example, over the last seven years from 2018, the deterioration of safety has declined rapidly. Of the 317 deaths that occurred in prison, 87 of them were self-inflicted, with men counting as 83 and women 4. The manner of deaths includes self-inflicted, natural causes and others.

In addition, the Prison Reform Trust also looked at rehabilitation and resettlement. In their analysis, they found that re-offending rates remained high and that short prison sentences were less effective. Less than half of those prisoners involved, 43%, received a positive rating for purposeful activities, such as education and work. This, of course, sends the message that whilst prisons are doing a lot to manage inmates, positive results are unfortunately not yielded and something the Government must look at in tandem with longer prison sentences.

Where does all this leave us with longer sentences for the most serious crimes? It leaves us nowhere closer to managing the problem of foreign and homegrown terrorists. Prison is a tool to be used once someone has been convicted and sentenced, therefore on the most basic level, it doesn’t serve as a deterrent. More effort, funding and resources must be put into preventing such crimes from even taking place. It is inevitable that some will slip through the net, but this shouldn’t be our reason not to focus our attention on that.

This latest measure the Government have proposed appears to be nothing but a message of reassurance for the public. With safety concerns heightened in the current climate, the Government are rightfully looking at ways to ensure the public have confidence in them dealing with the most serious offenders. But, terrorism cannot be locked away. It is a recurring phenomenon and one in which we need to deal with more intelligently. With this in mind, I am reminded of the cliche of “prevention is better than cure.” However, a prison in and of itself is no cure, at least not for many given that re-offending rates remain high. So our efforts should not only be on how we prevent crimes from taking place but also how we rehabilitate those in our prisons from not re-offending again- especially if the Government push through with this Bill.

The views in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Faith Matters. The author of the article, Wasiq, can be found on Twitter @WasiqUK

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Categories: Conservative Government, Opinions, Prison Reform Trust, Re-offending, terrorism, Usman Khan

MURAL – Mutual Understanding, Respect and Learning

MURAL – Mutual Understanding, Respect and Learning is an international project that brings together six partners from across the EU – Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom. It is led by the British Council, with participating organisations selected based on their commitment to supporting dialogue and exchange of best practice to foster tolerance and mutual respect. MURAL is co-founded by the European Commission under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme.

MURAL aims to address the increase in anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiments in Europe by supporting tolerance and respect for different faiths, religious beliefs and ethnicities. The project promotes the principles of pluralistic and democratic societies. It aims to foster transnational cooperation, exchange of knowledge and exchange of best practice to encourage tolerance and counter attitudes that contribute towards acts of hatred and discrimination. This will be achieved as follows:

  • Increased tolerance and understanding of how to promote inclusion by developing a cohort of social activists committed to improving dialogue, mutual respect and valuing different perspectives
  • An empowered network of social activists and key stakeholders, who will be agents of positive change in their communities
  • Promotion of transnational learning on themes, approaches and actions to countering discrimination and promoting inclusion.

MURAL will harness people’s power for advocacy and their desire for social change to creatively engage communities. Working with local activists and leaders will enable us to build continuity and sustainability into the programme, as they will carry their knowledge and commitment to addressing religious discrimination into their careers.

Some of the MURAL social action projects led by Faith Matters’ participants were around improving critical thinking and social media literacy skills that can help counter extremist, hateful, and racist narratives online, assist in identifying bots and cyborgs, and provide practical ways to resist and counter extremist narratives. Others included toolkits to provuided legal information around discrimination and hate crimes.


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Categories: Home Projects

Non-Muslim man praises ‘hero’ who defended him from a racist who called him a ‘Muslim c*nt’

A non-Muslim man was confronted and abused, called a ‘Muslim c*nt’ by a fellow passenger who wrongly accused him of staring at him and a woman on a crowded Northern Line train.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, left his seat when confronted by the man, he described as being white and in his forties and said, “I’m not Muslim, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” but the accusations continued.

Despite being told he was not Muslim, the perpetrator continued: ‘I don’t care, you f**king Muslim c**t”.

The woman in question would then support the man by confirming that she had not been stared at by him. And, it was during this particular exchange, that another member of the public intervened.

Upon learning that this individual was Irish, the perpetrator referred to them as the IRA.

The perpetrator would then exit the train at Camden Town.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, the man referred to the passenger who supported him as ‘his hero’ and was thankful for creating a barrier between himself and the perpetrator.

The British Transport Police are investigating the Islamophobic hate crime.

Tell MAMA has long championed the role of the upstander, and individuals who assist when racist abuse or hate crimes occur, when safe to do so.

Gestures of support can include speaking with those affected when the perpetrator leaves, standing with them and offering reassurance, to contacting the police on their behalf.

Other practical tips include noting down details of the incident time, location (e.g. the train carriage number, or the carriage was in the middle, front, or back), any identifiable features of the perpetrator(s), and sharing any photos or videos of the incident if confident to do so to assist with any investigation.

Tell MAMA provides free, easy-to-read safety tip guides for adults, young people, and Islamic institutions.

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: BTP, Camden Town, London, News

Islamophobia vs Anti-Muslim Bigotry – We’re Losing Against Racists And Bigots

“Whilst We Debate Whether Islamophobia or Anti-Muslim Bigotry Is Most Appropriate – Racists And Bigots Continue Their Campaign Of Hate”, by Wasiq @wasiquk

The Jewish Chronicle published an article by the journalist and public commentator Melanie Phillips titled; Don’t fall for bogus claims of ‘Islamophobia’. In the article, Phillips claims “Islamophobia is used to silence any criticism of the Islamic world, including Islamic extremism.” Furthermore, she advances her position in that “Islamophobia” was invented by the Muslim Brotherhood to mimic antisemitism” and then finally adds the following “The concept of “Islamophobia” is thus profoundly anti-Jew.”

The article naturally gained a lot of publicity. Miqdaad Versi Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain in response to the article stated in a tweet “The Jewish Chronicle’s editors know Muslims are fearful, as many in the Islamophobic far right [SIC] feel emboldened. Yet they choose now to publish this vile piece from the awful Melanie Phillips – as Islamophobia is on the rise. Shameful.”

David Toube Director of Policy at Quilliam in his critique of the article points out that “If we pretend that, because the term Islamophobia is sometimes misused by rotters, it doesn’t exist at all – as Melanie Phillips appears to have done – [then] we are indistinguishable from the likes of the Labour Against the Witch-hunt mob”.

There is little the MCB and Quilliam see eye to eye, but what appears to be the case here is that they’re both in agreement, in that, if anything, the article emboldens the very people we are all meant to be fighting against which are racists and bigots.

Phillips has form in this area, but it is not an argument that I wish to rehearse here. My concern is, that whilst we debate which term, be it Islamophobia or anti-Muslim bigotry, is most appropriate, the racists and bigots will continue their campaign of hate and prejudice nonetheless. The primary victims of hate and bigotry will always be the human victims, in this case, Muslims. It matters little whether one considers Muslims as a race or not, or a cultural community tied by the bonds of their faith. What matters is, how we ensure that we protect them against this hate?

In an article I wrote for Barfi Culture on the issue of the Saatchi Gallery covering up an art piece because some of its Muslim visitors felt offended; I argued the point that “Islam doesn’t need protection, it doesn’t feel pain, it does not share the human emotions we have, so let’s stop treating it like it is a living being.” I consider this to be an important and correct position to hold, one which few would disagree with, because the more we feel offended by those attacking Islam, the more we appear to be concerned about it, than Muslims as a whole.

The fact that Islamophobia has the word, Islam and phobia just invites racists and bigots to shift the debate to their side. Scour any racist or bigots social media and you will see the same arguments from them: “Islam is an ideology, it should be criticised” and then they attribute anti-Muslim tropes as a cover for their “right to free speech.” This is what Muslim communities are dealing with whilst we debate amongst ourselves.

My position on the which term is most appropriate lies in what takes ammunition away from racists and bigots. With this in mind,  I prefer the term anti-Muslim bigotry. I prefer it because it firmly places the emphasis on the individual. It provides the human element that is much needed and denies racists and bigots the opportunity to disguise their hatred of Muslims through criticism of Islam.

Using the term anti-Muslim bigotry exposes racists and bigots in a way racism does also, for example, “I’m not racist, I have a black friend” and so, in the same way, “I’m not anti-Muslim, I just hate Islam”. To be clear, I am not arguing that Muslims are a race, they are not, and they are not like Jews who are. What I am arguing is, if we focus on Muslims and not Islam, then we focus our attention on what really matters and that is Muslims as people, particularly in Law. If we do the reverse and add in the Islamic element, then by default, either consciously or unconsciously, we are creating a blasphemy taboo. This is where we shoot ourselves in the foot and keep shooting.

To conclude, yes Melanie Phillips appears to be on the wrong side of the debate on this issue and her contribution is not helpful, but unless we challenge her nonsense as well as others in an intelligent way, then the racists and bigots need to do little in their campaign of hate and bigotry when we are arguing between ourselves.

These views do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Faith Matters.

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Categories: MCB, Melanie Phillips, Opinions, racists and bigots

Terror suspect Filip Golon Bednarczyk’s history of online hate

A Polish national, charged with terror offences, had a long history of sharing anti-Muslim and Islamophobic content on Facebook, Tell MAMA can reveal.

Filip Golon Bednarczyk, 25, and based in Luton, was charged with the collection of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, contrary to section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

An additional charge concerns the alleged making or possession of an explosive under suspicious circumstances, contrary to section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883.

The charges follow an arrest made on the eve of the General Election, and there was no immediate risk to public safety.

Our investigation revealed that Bednarczyk’s social media posts shift between an inchoate interest in Satanism, nihilism, and anti-religious memes to hardened conspiracist and far-right memes about Islam and Muslims.

Two examples in this investigation, posted on Bednarczyk’s personal Facebook, revealed how entrenched this racialised form of conspiracist thinking about demographics had become, as, in October, a dehumanising meme of a Muslim woman pouring tea from a Union Jack teapot presented this as a ‘traditional’ UK outfit. Contrast that with a meme Bednarczyk shared on December 7, 2014, calling for the banning of the burqa (the image itself depicts the niqab, however), deployed the same dehumanising and securitised language, from a notorious page called ‘Stop the Islamization of the World’ – a page boasting almost 100,000 likes, would pepper Bednarczyk’s timeline throughout 2014.

Credit: Facebook.

Bednarczyk had also, on at least two occasions that year, liked memes calling for the nuking of Mecca, the holiest place for Muslims.

Credit: Facebook.

He had shared content from a similar far-right Facebook group in the Polish language which is against the so-called ‘Islamisation of Europe’ – Nie dla Islamizacji Europy, which boasts over 300,000 Facebook likes.

Credit: Facebook.

In September 2014, he shared an antisemitic meme which originated on 4chan, which spoke of an impending global war, where David Cameron, Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin where depicted wearing kippahs – the traditional skullcaps that demonstrate an outward sign of religiosity in Jewish men.

A year later, one post suggested that ‘liberal blood will flow in the streets’ for their tolerance of Muslims, transgender people, homosexuality, abortion, feminism, and paedophiles. He added that he would only return to Poland if the notorious far-right politician Janusz Korwin-Mikke took power.

Bednarczyk also shared videos promoting Mikke’s latest political coalition Konfederacja.

An avid YouTuber, Bednarczyk even uploaded a video in 2017 of himself cutting a membership of the far-right street defence movement Britain First.

More recent content, however, included a mocking photograph, taken outside of a church in Luton which had displayed a sign in solidarity with local Muslim communities.

A hateful and homophobic post in July called police participation and recognition of Pride events the “death of European culture and values”.

Credit: Facebook.

Filip Golon Bednarczyk appeared at Westminster Crown Court to confirm his name, age, and address.

No application for bail or indication of plea was entered, according to his defence.

The prosecution outlined that a search warrant on December 11 resulted in the seizure of several handwritten documents, various digital storage devices, and a quantity of sulphur powder.

Bednarczyk was remanded in custody and will appear before the Old Baily on January 3.


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Categories: News, terrorism

School demands bully apologises to Muslim girl she assaulted

A school in the Hertfordshire area will make a female student, who assaulted a Muslim pupil because of their hijab, write a letter of an apology, as police logged the incident after Tell MAMA gained the consent of the parents.

We can reveal that on December 4, the Muslim student, aged 11, had decided to wear the hijab for the first time, when a female student in their year group approached her and said, “that hijab is horrible, I want to see your hair” before assaulting her and attempting to rip her hijab off.

Her parents confirmed that the same student had previously made anti-Muslim and Islamophobic statements towards their daughter.

The nature of the assault meant that the young girl felt unable to inform staff but disclosed the incident to their parents, who, in turn, wrote to the school to raise their concerns. She had even talked about no longer wearing the hijab again following the assault.

Tell MAMA has declined to reveal the exact location of the school to protect those affected, but we have seen a copy of the letter sent to the family this week. It confirms that an investigation took place which demanded that the girl responsible  would apologise in writing.

The family chose not to pursue the matter further with the police following Tell MAMA’s report on their behalf.

Tell MAMA has continued to warn against the issue of anti-Muslim and Islamophobic bullying in schools.

In our most recent annual report, verified data on the perpetrators and victims revealed that fifteen perpetrators were under the age of 12, compared to 87 victims. Broadening the age categories to include those aged between 13 and 18, we found a higher number of perpetrators in the same age bracket as victims, with 76 perpetrators and 87 victims respectively.

Tailored safety tips for children and young people (in a variety of colours) are free to download from the resources section on the Tell MAMA website.

Tell MAMA calls on schools to empower their staff and teachers to set positive examples by reminding students of a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, bigotry, and racism. And extends to schools doing more to incorporate Muslim role models and members of staff and help foster a positive teaching environment which encourages Muslim students to speak with staff without fear.

Such an environment can encourage Muslim students to discuss sensitive topics and find their voices centred. In a positive example of this, Tell MAMA verified a case where a schoolteacher facilitated an open discussion about the impacts of Islamophobia, by allowing the affected Muslim student to lead the discussion. As our 2017 report noted, “she could highlight the role of negative media representations of Muslims and Islam, which she believed had partly motivated the incident”. Improving the religious literacy of students in formal and informal lesson structures can help reduce discriminatory attitudes amongst peers.

The targeting of Muslims in schools extends beyond students and includes teachers and support staff. Tell MAMA has documented examples where teachers have made anti-Muslim and Islamophobic remarks, or misused safeguarding policies.

In total, Tell MAMA verified 50 reports of incidents occurring in educational institutions last year.

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


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Categories: bullying, Hertfordshire, Hijab, News, School

A mother’s fear after her daughter was assaulted and strangled with her own hijab in Sheffield

Rashida Ali, the mother of 14-year-old Redena Al-Hadi, who was strangled with her own hijab on a crowded bus in Sheffield, feels ‘let down’ by the police after the female suspect escaped with a caution, Tell MAMA can reveal.

Speaking to our service, Ms Ali has also expressed fears about how they will get their daughters to school.

Ms Ali believes that the caution charge has let down Muslims nationwide.

Concerns were also raised about the conduct of the bus driver, who the family allege, failed to intervene to stop the racist abuse before it escalated to violence.

South Yorkshire Police have confirmed that the investigation is subject to a full review which includes re-interviewing witnesses, as officers remain in contact with the family and providing updates.

A video of the shocking assault went viral several days ago.

Tell MAMA can confirm that the incident began when the male perpetrator was continuously using the N-word in a raised voice towards Redena, her 13-year-old sister Wida, and other teens.

A male in the group then approached him and challenged the racist behaviour, only to be pushed in return. One of Ms Ali’s daughters then said it was wrong for him to push a child in such a manner.

A female friend in the group is then said to have been pushed in the chest by the man.

It was in this moment that the female perpetrator interjected herself into the narrative, spouting anti-Muslim and Islamophobic at Redena. One such statement included, “you make me sick when I look at you with that scarf on”.

Sensing a growing threat, Redena informed her sister and their friends to get off the bus, to escape further abuse.

Redena, however, found herself subjected to a sustained assault and was dragged off the bus by her head. Footage captured the moment she was punched and strangled after being pinned to the ground.

It was in this moment, of being strangled with her own hijab, that Redena thought she would die, in an interview given to The Mirror newspaper.

She also said: “I don’t want to go to school. How can an adult attack a child for wearing a hijab?”

It’s clear that the targeted nature of the comments on the bus, which did reference her hijab, was not incidental, but a prime motivating factor in this shocking racist attack.

The list of injuries to Redena includes heavy bruising, a possible cheek fracture, and pooled blood in one eye.

Her younger sister suffered bruising to one leg, which has left both of them, understandably, emotionally shaken.

South Yorkshire Police arrived at the scene at Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, on December 4 and arrested two individuals, one a 44-year-old man, and a 40-year-old woman on suspicion of racially aggravated assault and public order offences.

The woman was then given a caution due to it being her first offence, according to The Mirror.

Anyone with information, or who holds footage of the incident, is asked to call 101 or email quoting incident number 601 of 4 December 2019.


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Categories: hate crime, News, Sheffield, South Yorkshire police

Muslim children in tears as moped driver smashes the rear windscreen of their family car

A moped driver followed a Muslim family after they had collected their young children from an Islamic school in East London before violently attacking their rear windscreen with a weapon, causing structural damage.

The shocking incident took place on December 2 at around 4 pm GMT.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, the mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, described the moment the man drove was making indistinguishable hand gestures towards her before performing a U-turn to follow them.

She noted the driver gave her hostile looks as he got nearer to their vehicle. He then produced a weapon and began attacking their rear windscreen, two of her children, under the age of eight, were seated in the back.

Her children screamed and cried during the attack, but no injuries occurred, despite the frenzied and violent nature of the vandalism.

The family felt targeted due to their Islamic faith and ethnicity as the mother and one of the children wears the hijab.

The Metropolitan Police are investigating the case, and Tell MAMA are liaising further on the matter.

In the 2018 reporting cycle, Tell MAMA verified 43 reports of anti-Muslim and Islamophobically-motivated vandalism.

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


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Categories: hate crime, Metropolitan Police, News, vandalism

Alleged neo-Nazi granted bail after mother puts up £50,000 security

An alleged neo-Nazi accused of a string of terror and race hate offences has been granted bail – after his academic mother put up a £50,000 security.

Student Andrew Dymock, 22, is alleged to have promoted the extreme-right System Resistance Network (SRN) group through his Twitter account and website.

Prosecutors allege that he urged followers to engage in terrorist activity, stir up hatred in their communities, fundraise for the group and distribute propaganda, including material that “endangers life and encourages killing”.

The son of academics, Dymock, from Bath, Somerset, was first arrested at Gatwick Airport on his way to the US in June last year – and was again held on Wednesday.

He was allegedly caught with right-wing literature, as well as clothing and flags linked to the extreme Misanthropic Division, Atomwaffen Division and Sonnenkrieg Division groups.

He appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday charged with 12 terror offences and three charges of publishing material in a bid to stir up hatred based on race and sexual orientation.

They include five counts of encouraging terrorism, four counts of disseminating terrorist publications, two counts of terrorist fundraising, one count of possessing material that is of use to a terrorist, and three charges under the Public Order Act.

One of the documents allegedly found in his possession was a poster entitled: “Rape the Cops. System Whores get the F****** Rope.”

Other charges relate to Twitter posts said to include the words: “Join your local Nazis.”

Bearded Dymock, wearing an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt over a T-shirt and jeans, smiled to his mother as he entered the dock, while she waved from the public gallery.

He stood to confirm his name, address, date of birth and that he is British and yawned as the lengthy indictment was read out.

Dymock, who was studying politics at Aberystwyth University at the time of his first arrest, indicated not guilty pleas to all of the charges.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot granted Dymock bail with a string of conditions, including restrictions on his mobile phone and internet use, after his mother agreed to pay a £50,000 security.

Dymock cannot go to any international transport hub and is subject to residence conditions and a tagged curfew.

He is expected to be freed from custody by Monday and will next appear at the Old Bailey on December 20.

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Categories: Andrew Dymock, Bail, Neo-Nazi, News, terrorism