posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 27 June 2015, 15:27
Today should be a day to celebrate: Pride, the annual celebration of the LGBT community, is taking place in London. Thousands will be marching. Meanwhile, in the USA the Supreme Court has legalised marriage equality, leading the White House to bathe its building in the rainbow colours last night.
Just as the rainbow flag of hope rises, so too is pressure growing to remove the Confederate flag from official buildings and number plates in states such as South Carolina, following the murderous spree of white supremacist Dylan Roof. Roof had appeared many times holding the flag, which harks back to the days of division and slavery. A ‘Take It Down’ movement has rapidly spread across social media.
These are reasons to celebrate.
Yet as I write this, today is also a day for trepidation and mourning. We are still coming to terms with the massacre of nearly 40 (mostly British) tourists in a hotel in Tunisia, claimed by ISIS, whilst a man was decapitated by his ISIS-supporting employee, who then tried (and failed) to set off a series of devastating explosions in a factory in France. Meanwhile, the so-called Islamic State (or Daesh as it should be known) has also claimed responsibility for a bomb attack killing 27 and wounding hundreds, on a Shia mosque in Kuwait City, an attack on fellow Muslims that these fanatics consider to be heretics.
These are reasons for outrage.
There are difficult questions to ask, and difficult challenges ahead for our communities. Some will focus on security, others on the supposed culpability of Muslim communities, others still will insist there is something “wrong” with the very religion of Islam.
I know that while these questions are being asked, there are millions upon millions of Muslims who do not share ISIS’s views – that Ramadan is ‘the month of war’ – and who are instead celebrating Ramadan right now as the month of peace and reflection, of spiritual purity. From initiatives here such as The Big Iftar or Dine@Mine, to iftars (fast-breaking) events focusing on the homeless and non-Muslim neighbours, there are many, many Muslims reaching out to their neighbours.
This doesn’t mean we can’t ask questions, nor seek answers, on difficult areas (remembering that that pendulum swings both ways: we all have questions to answer).
However, there are also other fanatics eagerly waiting in the wings for each atrocity. Beady-eyed zealots with their own perverted views, who thrive on and indeed need their brothers-in-arms in groups such as al-Muhajiroun and ISIS in order to justify their world view. Without the oxygen of publicity which the internet (and media) provides, it’s doubtful we’d have heard much from them in past eras.
Britain First is marching today in Luton, seeking to ignite racial and religious civil war under the banner of ‘the crusader’. A judge has imposed an interim injunction, banning them from entering any more mosques without written permission. They have been told by everyone – all the churches, mosques, police, council, local businesses – that they are not welcome. After meeting with local Christian leaders and promising to listen, what did they do? They travelled to the heavily-Muslim area of Bury Park and began insulting locals, filming themselves as ‘victims’ when people took exception. These are not the actions of any Christian I recognise.
Behind these thugs and their message of hate lies a whole movement, the self-defined ‘Counter Jihadists’, who are only too eager to we exploit further atrocities in order to inflame communal tensions.
It is only two days since a fanatic attached to an antisemitic and anti-Muslim neo-Nazi group was found guilty of attempted murder. His victim, whose hand he nearly severed with a machete, was a young Asian doctor. The attacker, Zack Davies, had mistaken him for a Muslim. He was filmed grinning for the cameras as he was taken in to court for his sentencing.
The same sick mindset which inspired Davies lies behind those neo-Nazis seeking to march in Golders Green next Friday, on the Jewish Shabat (sabbath). We’ve united behind the community, and many Jewish groups, to show we won’t be intimidated, by forming Golders Green Together. And it’s that message of unity I want to leave with you now, as we face the awful reality of ISIS’s actions.
It is in unity that we find strength, in unity we find hope, and in unity we can stand firm as the darkness approaches. Let us stand together – and stand firm – against the many faces of hate.
p.s. I’d like to leave you with the moving rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ by President Obama, in memory of his friend, the church leader and state senator Clementa Pinckney, murdered by Dylan Roof www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-33289324
p.p.s. There’s a Thunderclap which Golders Green Together is running: I urge you to support it.
Posted: 27 Jun 2015 | There are 14 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 25 June 2015, 15:39
- Part of antisemitic National Action group
- Increased risk of violence as traditional far right crumbles
Zack Davies, 26, was today found guilty of attempted murder, after attacking Sikh dentist Dr Sarandev Bhambra with a hammer and machete during a violent and unprovoked racist assault.
Davies had attacked Dr Bhambra in a supermarket in Mold, north Wales, on 14 January purely because of his skin colour. Yelling 'white supremacy!' and 'this is revenge!’, he attempted to sever his victim's left hand.
A disturbed young man, HOPE not hate can reveal that Davies was associated with an extreme neo-Nazi organisation called National Action (NA).
National Action has courted media and social media audiences with its extreme antisemitic beliefs and stunts.
Davies, who had been active as a racist/far-right troll for five years, told Mold Crown Court that his inspiration was the (so-called) Islamic State executioner, “Jihad John”. He also claimed that National Action “admired” ISIS. (Many National Action members and supporters have called their mission a “White Jihad”.)
Last year members of the group targeted Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger with more than 2,000 antisemitic hate messages over Twitter, for which one person, Garron Helm, was later imprisoned.
Supporters also videoed themselves defacing a Jewish memorial in Birmingham’s Cannon Hill park this month (June), whilst National Action was the main instigator of a so-called ‘White Man March’ in Newcastle in March.
Nick Lowles, HOPE not hate chief executive, said:
“Zack Davies believed National Action’s propaganda so seriously that he acted upon it. His vile attack was racially motivated. Yet in his ignorance he targeted a Sikh man rather than a Muslim, whom he blamed for Lee Rigby’s murder. It was sheer luck and the intervention of a former soldier that prevented Dr Bhambra losing his life.
“This incident is a sad reminder of the ever-present threat of neo-Nazi violence which, if anything, is growing in the UK. Though the far right is smaller than it has been for many years, the collapse of the British National Party and the English Defence League has led to the formation of smaller and more hardline, violent groups.
“National Action therefore reflects a newer, younger and more extreme generation of British neo-Nazis, who are fuelled both by antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred.
“While much of the media and Government focus is upon Islamist extremism, we cannot and should not ignore the threat posed by far-right racists and neo-Nazis. As we have seen in this case, they feed off the narrative of Islamist violence and terrorism, as well as extreme antisemitism and utilise the power of social media to spread their messages of hate
Posted: 25 Jun 2015 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 19 June 2015, 11:58
Lewis Carter thought he was being clever. A drummer with the Bristol-based Oi band Queesnbury Rules and Prime Suspects, Carter thought that by organising a Oi gig he could mix a good night out with the chance to gather together hundreds of like-minded friends to confront his local anti-fascists (Antifa) who had made his life fairly miserable.
A venue was booked for Saturday 20 June, the bands arranged and the flyers circulated around the country.
Among the bands advertised to play are London-based Last Orders, whose lead singer is John ‘Slaz’ Henderson, one of the leaders of C18, Citizen Keyne, Hooligan UK, Code 1 and Street Punk Drunks.
The only problem is that very few of his ‘friends’ plan to come and with Antifa knowing all about the gig it’s set to be a rather difficult night for Lewis and the band members. In fact, it’s fairly safe to say that Lewis Carter is now a deeply worried man.
Posted: 19 Jun 2015 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Friday, 19 June 2015, 08:34
Every year, the importance of #WorldRefugeeDay becomes more acute.
Daily images of fellow human beings willing to die in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean in search of safety and HOPE, remind us that we are currently faced with the worse refugee crisis of our era. The UN’s Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) annual Global Trends report published yesterday shows 59.5 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2014, 8.3 million more than in 2013. Globally, the number of refugees grew from 16.7million to 19.5 million: half of them children.
If this was the population of a country, it would be the world's 24th biggest.
Globally, one in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. And experts believe the situation is likely to worsen further still.
Despite the growing number of refugees globally, the number of people finding safety in Britain remains extremely low. According to UNHCR, Britain is home to just 0.6% of the world’s refugees. We also receive fewer than the EU average per head of population of asylum.
HOPE not hate has been campaigning with and for migrants for years. Last winter, dozen of HOPE not hate groups and thousands of volunteers told to government #DontLetThemDrown, in response to the decision to withdraw support for rescue missions in the Mediterranean. Not only was it both inhumane and unacceptable for a modern civilised country like ours, but, as we feared, it lead to even more deaths.
And in January this year, we published an eyewitness account from our colleague Joe Mulhall who captured the human stories of grief, despair and fear of those living in the informal settlement in Zakho, Northern Iraq.
We will cover this plight of human suffering in the next two issues of the magazine. So please get in touch at email@example.com if you want to share your story of survival or celebrate the life and contribution of a refugee or asylum seeker who lives in your community.
On this #WorldRefugeeDay, we must tell our politicians to stop turning their back and close their eyes, but uphold the moral principals that we claim make us a beacon in the modern world, especially in the year marking the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.
Posted: 19 Jun 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 11 June 2015, 10:42
Just as we stand firm with the community in Golders Green against fascism and antisemitism, so too are we standing with the people of Luton as they face the threat of a march from the Muslim-hating group, Britain First.
Whilst stooping to a bizarre new low and filming himself with his girlfriend ranting at random Muslims in Luton’s Bury Park, Britain First’s Paul Golding has actually performed a service for the town and helped bring its communities together.
Christian leaders made an attempt to meet with Golding and Fransen – who, predictably, labelled them all “phoney Christians” (presumably because they don’t believe in invading others’ houses of worship…) – in a bid to convince the group to drop its plans to demonstrate through Luton on Armed Forces Day (June 27).
Our friend Peter Adams, a committed Christian and interfaith worker in Luton, said that “provocative” footage and divisive rhetoric from Britain First had only served to unite Luton together.
He said: “Every time this happens it unleashes more corrosive anger and it gnaws away at good community relations. However over the last six years, since EDL began, our engagement with local mosques has increased and it continues to increase each time we are called to respond to this kind of thing. We understand each other and we are unified in opposition to hatred.”
There is some tremendous work going on in Luton and we’re proud to be supporting those efforts. Initiatives such as Churches Together in Luton deserve our support, as does the local Muslim community.
Posted: 11 Jun 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 5 June 2015, 20:54
It seems that we are set for a summer of provocation and Muslim-baiting from anti-Muslim activists across Europe. The BBC has reported yesterday that Dutch politician Geert Wilders is planning to show cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed on Dutch TV in a slot that’s been allocated to his political party.
Wilders plans to show the cartoons that were on display at the anti-Muslim art exhibition in Texas organised by anti-Muslim activists Pam Geller and Robert Spencer which was attacked by two jihadists who were both shot dead by police in the process .
According to the BBC, Wilders will use a legal loophole that prevents party-political broadcasts from being edited for content to display the cartoons. The broadcast is reportedly scheduled to be aired in the coming weeks.
While Wilders claims to be defending free speech, his actions are clearly designed to provoke and inflame tensions. Wilders is well known for his Islamophobia and has repeatedly called for the Quran to be banned from the Netherlands and all new mosque buildings stopped.
It appears that Wilders will not be alone in pushing the Mohammed cartoons over the next few weeks. In Denmark, leading anti-Muslim activist Anders Gravers is planning to display Geller’s cartoons at the Folkemøde (The People’s Meeting) festival on the island of Bornholm later this month.
Gravers is co-founder and Leader of Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) and a board member, along with Geller and Spencer, of Stop Islamisation of Nations.
And HOPE not hate also understands that discussions are taking place amongst anti-Muslim ‘counter-jihadists’ in this country about holding some similar stunt here over the summer.
EDL founder Stephen Lennon has already vocalized his keenness to put on a cartoon competition in the UK. "When I can, I will be holding the same event in Britain," he told IBTimes last month.
Lennon comes off licence next month and, as is revealed in the forthcoming issue of HOPE not hate, he plans to return to frontline anti-Islam activities with the active support of a shadowy group of counter-jihadists, including some members of the House of Lords.
While there are of course difficult issues around free speech, freedom of expression and the right to offend that we have to deal with head on, these freedoms are not absolute. There is one thing about an individual expressing a view that someone else might take offence to but quite another when it is politically motivated and designed to incite hatred and illicit a reaction in order to either stir up trouble or further divisions within and between communities.
And of course, for the 'counter-jihadists' like Lennon, this is not about freedom of speech, because if he was such a defender of the concept then surely we would be happy to extend that freedom to Anjem Choudary and his supporters when they abused returning British soldiers or burnt poppies.
Let us be clear. The publication and dissemination of these cartoons is designed to whip up anti-Muslim hatred and so, in this context, have to be opposed. It is a clear attempt to illicit a backlash from Muslims – ideally, in their eyes, a violent reaction – as this will only increase the premise the Islam is incompatible with so-called Western civilization and Muslims are violent, over-reacting intolerants.
If cartoons of Mohammed are displayed in Demark, Netherlands and the UK, then it is quite possible that other counter-jihadists across Europe will follow suit. If this happens then we are heading for a long, dangerous summer.
Posted: 5 Jun 2015 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 5 June 2015, 15:15
You may have read about a fringe group of neo-Nazis planning to hold a demonstration in the heavily-Jewish area of Golders Green, in north London, on 4th July.
Although the demonstration is likely to be small and some of those involved are well-known to us (they claim to be demonstrating against “Jewish privilege”), we feel it is important to show our solidarity with the Jewish community at a time of rising antisemitism.
Therefore, we are proud to be part of a coalition, Golders Green Together (GGT), that is organising a series of positive, community-focused events that will run between now and 3rd July, the day before the planned demo.
GGT has been launched by the London Jewish Forum and ourselves. It is also being supported by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and has been fully discussed with the Community Security Trust.
We’re supporting a series of activities that are designed to celebrate the rich diversity and strong sense of community spirit that Golders Green has to offer.
We look forward to seeing the momentum of this positive campaign growing over the next few weeks. In the meantime, please follow GGT on Twitter @GG_Together or email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the mailing list.
You can read the full Golders Green Together statement here.
Posted: 5 Jun 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 30 May 2015, 08:24
Yesterday, a few of us from HOPE not hate met up with representatives of several Jewish organisations to formulate a coordinated strategy to counter the nazi demo planned for Golders Green in early July.
There is clear and understandable anger at the attempts to wind up, vilify and attack the Jewish community in north London, but also a clear determination that their intimidatory tactics cannot be allowed to succeed.
While discussions are still on-going, a plan is coming together which will allow those who want to show their opposition the chance to do so but also to ensure that life for locals continues as normal and the community is reassured.
As usual with a HOPE not hate approach to these sorts of nazi provocations, we aim to use this threat as an opportunity to bring the people of Golders Green together and reassert their pride in their community and highlight the shared identities amongst the whole community.
There will be lots of ways for everyone to get involved, from kids in local schools, faith leaders standing together in solidarity and local residents and shopkeepers proudly displaying their pride in their community.
Posted: 30 May 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 28 May 2015, 08:01
There could be trouble in Glasgow this weekend as Blood and Honour and Combat 18 heavies square up to one another at a supposedly non-political Oi gig in the city.
There has been no love lost two the two nazi groups since the Blood and Honour movement split in the late 1990s. B&H was then tightly controlled by Combat 18 but it's confrontational style, largely directed at others in the movement, eventually led to a walkout and the formation of a non-C18 Blood and Honour.
While the two groups have been vocal in the hatred of one another this has largely been contained to exchanging abuse on the Internet and the usual claims that the others are police spies.
However, things have heated up in recent months, not least when C18 began repeating the claim that Gail Dutton, the Australian wife of B&H leader Simon Dutton, had previously been an 'active red'. Yet despite threats of retribution nothing materialised - until now.
It seems that significant contingents from both factions are making their way to Glasgow this Saturday for an Oi gig organised by Vicky Pearson. One of the bands performing is IC1, whose front man is C18 supporter Andy Nolan and leading the C18 crew from London is John 'Slaz' Henderson.
Blood and Honour has heard the rumours about this and are organising themselves too.
Pearson has told friends that this will be the last gig she organises in Scotland. If the two groups clash on Saturday then perhaps she might have wished she had packed it in earlier.
Posted: 28 May 2015 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments