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Dudley shows HOPE in response to the EDL

posted by: Owen Jones | on: Thursday, 12 February 2015, 10:42


On Saturday 7th February, around 1000 English Defence League protesters descended on the town of Dudley, their third demo in the town in the last five years, protesting against the construction of a new Mosque and community centre. For weeks, much of Dudley had been anxious that this rally would pose a similar threat to the EDL’s violent protests in 2010, which cost Dudley’s taxpayers over £150,000 in damage. Houses and cars were damaged, steel fences broken down and hurled at police, windows smashed, cars vandalised, homes, restaurants and a Hindu temple attacked.

Though this year’s march was less chaotic- the EDL failed to match their anticipated 2,000 with the significant majority bussed in from outside- the march caused massive disturbance to the town. West Midlands Police were forced to draft in hundreds of extra officers from as far away as Wales, and hundreds of thousands of pounds were lost as the majority of shops and businesses in the town centre closed in fear. Anxiety was whipped up in the town by the EDL’s hatred.

Dudley Central Mosque, the community at the centre of controversies responded to the protests with a great gesture of peace, opening up their doors to provide food, hot drinks and shelter from the cold to local people and anti-racist supporters. Around 300 people joined together in the mosque, for an amazing show of love and generosity in the face of hatred. Following this, together with Dudley Borough Interfaith Network, they are planning to open the mosque to help educate people about their religion, and dispel fears in the wider community.

HOPE not hate have collected around 400 messages of HOPE from the community in response to the EDL’s presence on Saturday, which have been on display this week in a pop up shop in the centre of Dudley town, just a stone’s throw from the site of the rally. Dudley has sent a clear message, that we will not tolerate hatred and division in our town. We are the many, and we stand for HOPE.

 Posted: 12 Feb 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Rise Up

posted by: Owen Jones | on: Saturday, 7 February 2015, 12:11


On the morning of the 31st January, 200 people made their way up the hill through the previous night’s snow to the sound of Djembe drums calling from St John’s Parish Hall, to celebrate HOPE. Rise Up for St Thomas’s, an event to celebrate multiculturalism in Dudley bought together local groups from the community to stand up for all that is good in our town.

The bright yellow hall buzzed with activity, with choirs and bands from local Churches entertaining the crowds as they were decorated with henna and face paints, colouring pens, paints, feathers and copious amounts of delicious curry.

The event closed with a balloon release, where people attached messages of hope for their community to balloons, which were released in unison. This represented the strength of Dudley’s community, quite literally “rising up” for hope over fear and hatred. Local resident Dominic said “It was a joyous sight seeing hundreds of balloons making their way to the skies with their messages of hope”.

Rise Up showcased some of the best and most diverse of Dudley. Dudley has not always had a reputation as a hot bed of multicultural peace, with a history of BNP councillors, huge EDL rallies and a presence of far right splinter groups. With the EDL planning to return to the town on Saturday the 7th of February, Rise Up sent a clear message from the community that most people in Dudley stand for multiculturalism, unity and hope.

 Posted: 7 Feb 2015 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Farage smears us because we're hurting him

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 7 February 2015, 08:49


Yesterday afternoon UKIP leader Nigel Farage took to the airwaves to claim that HOPE not hate was behind an angry demo which prevented him from opening a party office in Rotherham.

It wasn't the first time he has made such a claim and it won't be the last. But like all other similar statements, Farage was not able to provide a shred of evidence to back up his claim.

The truth is that Farage is smearing us because he knows our campaign can hurt his party's prospects in May.

Rather than deal with the racists and oddballs we expose within his party, he prefers to attacks the messenger in the hope that this will neutralise our examination of the party and cause the media to be wary of us.

Sadly for Farage his tactics will have the opposite affect. The more he attacks us the more determined we are to expose the bigotry within UKIP and its damaging policies, which do nothing to address the real issues facing people.

Answer Farage's smears by ensuring UKIP fails to win in May

We are just three months from the General Election and what will be our most sophisticated and targeted campaign ever. We've amassed some of the best organisers around to run our campaigns in the seats UKIP will be looking to win; we have commissioned election analysts to map our key constituencies so we know who to target and with what messages; and we are building an army of determined and dedicated supporters who will campaign around the clock to prevent UKIP from winning.

Join the real people's army

So we say bring it on Mr Farage, smear us as much as you like because we take your attacks as a badge of honour and it only makes us more determined to stop you.

Sign up and get involved and let's give Farage even more reason to worry about us.

 Posted: 7 Feb 2015 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Farage's lies and smears only make us more determined

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 6 February 2015, 22:31


HOPE not hate would like to make it abundantly clear that it was not involved in demonstrations against UKIP leader Nigel Farage in Rotherham today, as Mr Farage has falsely claimed.

Faced with a hostile local crowd, Mr Farage took to the airwaves and during an interview with Iain Dale's LBC, issued the bizarre (and frankly paranoid) claim that we were "violent" and "anti-democractic", as well as being "anti-British".

This is not the first time Farage has claimed HOPE not hate is a violent organisation but just as on previous occasions he has not been able to provide a shred of evidence to back up his claims.

So, once again, we challenge him to back up his claims or withdraw them.

The truth is that Farage and UKIP attempt to smear us because we have repeatedly exposed the extremism within its ranks, the oddball statements of its supporters and its bizarre and damaging policies.

Rather than address the extremists and racists within its ranks, Farage prefers to smear the messenger in the hope that this will neutralise our examination of his party. Sadly for Farage, his tactics will have the opposite affect. The more he attacks and smears us the more determined we will be to expose UKIP for the anti-immigrant bigoted party it is.

We are just next three months from the General Election and I can promise our supporters that we will be running our most sophisticated and targeted to date. We are amassing some of the best organisers and campaigners around to run our operations in the key seats UKIP will be looking to win; we have commissioned some of the best election analysts to map our key constituencies so we know who to target and with what messages; and we have an army of determined and dedicated supporters who will campaign around the clock to prevent UKIP from winning.

So let us be absolutely clear, Farage lies about us because he is scared of us and our ability to prevent his party from winning seats in May. So we say bring it on, smear us as much as you like because we take his attacks as a badge of honour and it only makes us more determined to stop him.

 Posted: 6 Feb 2015 | There are 10 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Unity Comes To Southampton

posted by: Owen Jones | on: Thursday, 29 January 2015, 18:46


The 24th January saw a small, but dedicated, group turn out on a cold day in Southampton to demonstrate opposition to the show itself. The day took the form of a banner making session in the morning, followed by a short rally down Derby Road (where Channel 4/Love Productions “Immigration Street” has been filmed) to the location designated for the public meeting about the show.

Having inspected the stalls in place offering information on aftercare, designed to build resilience and minimise the almost certainly heavy social cost sure to be inflicted after “Immigration Street” is aired, local residents took their seats to hear several speeches about the importance of communities across the city remaining united at this time.

Hosted by local community radio champion Ali Beg from Awaaz FM, Alan Whitehead MP and representatives from Unite Community and the TUC all spoke well, before Councillor Satvir Kaur gave a rousing, passionate, address on the need for the city to stand up and be counted. And with nods and calls of approval greeting the heartfelt words of the animated Councillor Kaur, it was clear that that message was unquestionably received.

As residents and others departed the venue, no doubt to either find comfort in a warm location or to catch the final moments of Southampton FC’s FA Cup clash, those that attended were left in no doubt about the need to stand together, and create a positive future for their city.

To help us make a stand against the divisive television programme, Immigration Street, sign our petition to Channel 4 here:

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/derby-road-immigration-street

 Posted: 29 Jan 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Never Forget, Never Again

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 27 January 2015, 17:04


Seventy years ago today Soviet troops entered Auschwitz. The world saw, for the first time, the true extent of National Socialist brutality.

The haunting images of the camps and of those who survived Hitler’s attempts to exterminate an entire race, and of anyone who was not “Volk”, should forever be a reminder of where hatred can lead.

Those are pictures we never want to see again.

I visited Auschwitz seven years ago and it is an experience I will never forget. The death camps were vast. The eerie silence when looking out from the towers was made even more sinister by the deep snow and sub-zero temperatures.

Not forgetting is one thing; ensuring it never happens again is quite another.

All too often, we still turn a blind eye. I have been to Rwanda and met survivors of 1994 genocide. We failed the test, both in Rwanda - where our leaders knew what was happening but decided not to intervene - and in other terrible conflicts before and since.

I know phrases like Never Again can sometimes seem little more than empty slogans: but they should not be.

Hatred creeps in easy, pushing through the cracks if let unchecked. Voices appear, calling for crackdowns and getting tough when times appear hard. But it is then that we must be at our most resolute. Only by uniting around shared values of equality, tolerance, respect, and fairness can we preserve hope.

That is why today, as we remember, I ask you to join with me in renewed resolve: to defend our values, to live and embody hope, so that the dark spectre of hatred never takes hold again.

Never Forget, Never Again.

 Posted: 27 Jan 2015 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Hope Street

posted by: Simon Cressy | on: Thursday, 22 January 2015, 10:22


On Saturday 10th January, the “HOPE Street” community event in Southampton took place with fantastic success. Designed as an opportunity to assist local residents in seeing their place within a positive future for the city, “HOPE Street” saw between 350 and 400 people burst into the event hall with smiles on their faces, and get stuck into what was on offer!

With interactive stalls from a wide range of community organisations and voluntary groups, a pottery workshop, arts and crafts, badge-making and free books, as well as, of course, plenty of live music and other entertainment, diverse communities from across Southampton descended on The Hub at City College for two hours of fun.

Although “HOPE Street” was also an opportunity for the people of Southampton to make a stand against community division of all kinds, such as that suffered by the people of Derby Road, who, over recent months, have had a magnifying glass trained over them courtesy of Love Productions and their “Immigration Street” show, organisers were keen to deflect the negativity surrounding the programme, instead stressing positivity as being the order of the day. That being said, “HOPE Street” organisers are also keen for the event to be a rallying-cry for the city, something that is echoed by many other groups in the city. The eyes of the nation will be focused on Southampton when the show airs, meaning that the importance of communities in the city remaining united is now becoming vital, not just for the people of Derby Road, but for new and settled communities across the country.

People of all ages and backgrounds crowded into the “HOPE Street” event, demonstrating the breadth and depth of the wish for HOPE and positivity in the Southampton community. Children were enthralled by some fantastic story-telling by Southampton local Mike O’Leary, before becoming covered in glue and glitter making sun placards at the arts and crafts stall! The young couples from the A&L Dance Academy captivated everyone with their confident performances, before ‘The Férec Brothers’ brought the house down with their incredible flamenco arrangement. All the while, the pottery workshop kept churning out mini masterpieces!

As “HOPE Street” drew to a close, one Southampton resident remarked: “There is never anyone in this part of town, so for THIS many people to have come here on a Saturday is incredible”. “HOPE Street” was a great start; now it is time for the city to shape its future.

 Posted: 22 Jan 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Understanding the UKIP threat

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 14 January 2015, 18:16


If UKIP were pigeons, Clacton-on-Sea #Banksy. Photo from flickr by  Duncan Hull

If UKIP were pigeons, Clacton-on-Sea #Banksy. Photo from flickr by Duncan Hull

It's been a very busy day at the HOPE not hate office, launching the first ever digital version of our magazine and dealing with dozens of media calls about our 2014 State of Hate report.

A few people have asked about why we ignored UKIP in our far right profile. It is, after all, growing and its inclusion would obviously have radically changed our analysis that the far right is declining.

Well, we didn't include UKIP quite simply because we don't consider it a traditional “far-right” organisation – not in the sense of the others we profile. It can be a thoroughly unpleasant and xenophobic organisation which whips up anti-immigrant sentiment. But on its own that is not enough to make it “far right”.

UKIP is not antisemitic, either; it does not believe in white supremacy or use violence as a political tool to achieve its goals: all traits common with more traditional far-right, white supremacist and fascist organisations. It is important to understand these distinctions.

Regardless of what we might think of its policies and ugly demeanour, UKIP is embedded within the democratic process of this country and politically has more in common with the right-wing of the 1960s Conservative Party than with Hitler's Nazis.

These distinctions matter, as I said, because our choice of definitions influences how we combat something. Treating UKIP simply as the “BNP-lite” ignores its appeal and is likely to lead to equally inaccurate approaches to dealing with the problem. We want people to see UKIP for what it is, not what it isn’t.

Nothing I have said above belittles the threat UKIP poses. The vile language and slurs of its activists, the lazy racism and xenophobia, and anti-Muslim prejudice, can have a deeply detrimental impact on communal harmony and on our race relations.

Nor does its omission from our State of Hate survey reflect a weakening of our resolve to take it on in the forthcoming General Elections: quite the opposite, in fact. As we clearly state in our HOPE not hate magazine, our 2015 campaign will be the biggest ever.

UKIP is a xenophobic and racist party and it’s on that basis we will take it on.

 Posted: 14 Jan 2015 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments

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HOPE not hate launches 2014 ‘State of Hate’ report

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 14 January 2015, 11:20


Today we’re launching our annual ‘State of Hate’ report, which we’ve bundled free inside the first ever digital edition of HOPE not hate magazine.

You can download the magazine right now (first edition is free) from here

2014 really was a dreadful year for the British far right. The BNP has collapsed, the EDL has splintered into competing violent factions, and Muslim haters Britain First are floundering after the departure of Jim Dowson.

So, for now, the organised far right is in disarray.

But we mustn’t be complacent. Whilst splits and infighting may hold back the haters for now, many of the BNP’s voting core have upped and moved over to UKIP. UKIP’s racism and xenophobia is not fascism, but it is championing intolerance and we must continue to expose it.

We also warn that EDL founder Stephen Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) is mulling a return to frontline anti-Islam activity, once his prison licence expires this summer. That’s a real danger. Without him, the remains of the EDL will continue to squabble.

The rise of young antisemites and neo-Nazis National Action is a cause for concern, too. They stalked Labour MP Luciana Berger online, issuing 20 death threats and thousands of hate-filled tweets last year.

The threat from lone wolves remains, too. Whilst the traditional far-right groups are crumbling, events in France and Germany, coupled with the rise in antisemitic as well as anti-Muslim prejudice, suggest that there are tinderbox conditions right now.

Please take time to read the report (and magazine) and let us know your thoughts. You can access the magazine here

 Posted: 14 Jan 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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To the Jewish communities of France

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 9 January 2015, 19:02


Tonight we tender our sincerest commiserations to the Jewish communities of France and our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those murdered by terrorists at the supermarket near the Porte de Vincennes.

We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Jews of France in the face of all hate politics, whether emanating from the Front National and other fascists or the murderous Islamist extremist gangs.

Their activities are a direct challenge to the democratic values that we all stand for and cherish.

The HOPE not hate team

 Posted: 9 Jan 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments