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The Muhammad cartoon exhibition, free speech and the counter-jihadists

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 27 July 2015, 12:12


Today HOPE not hate published a report into plans to host a cartoon exhibition, featuring the Prophet Muhammad, in London on 18 September.

 

Our report, based on sources close to those involved and on published material, reveals that while some people are supporting the exhibition out of a strong belief for free speech, others are hoping for a violent reaction from British Muslims in order to prove the incompatibility of Islam in the West.

 

The report reveals that just three weeks before the exhibition was publicly announced, exhibition organisers Anne Marie Waters (of Sharia Watch), Alan Ayling (original financier of the EDL) and Stephen Lennon (‘Tommy Robinson’ ex-EDL leader) met former Britain First founder Jim Dowson to discuss collaborating on a new counter-jihadist project. Counter-Jihadists believe that Islam is aggressive and expansionist, and make little or no distinctions between moderate or hardline followers of the religion.

 

The conversation quickly changed and, led by Alan Ayling, the three talked about using the Muhammad cartoons to provoke serious civil strife in this country. One element of this plan relied on sending anti-Muslim demonstrators into heavily Muslim areas, waving placards with offensive cartoons.

 

So horrified by what he had heard, Dowson later denounced these plans on his Knights Templar blog:

 

“The belief is that Muslims will be so angry that they will start fighting the police in an effort to get at the demonstrators, but that with trouble breaking out in so many places at once the police will be unable to contain it.”

 

“The plot relies on this fact to envisage that this will mean that the resulting violence will spin out of control, leading to a wave of murderous attacks not just on the ‘useful idiot’ demonstrators but also on the outnumbered police force, pubs and non- Muslims in general.

 

“Those behind this insanely dangerous idea believe (probably correctly) that heavily armed Muslim drugs gangs will be drawn into the clashes and that Jihadist sleeper cells will also seize the opportunity to come out as militant leaders of their community as part of a massive recruitment and radicalisation drive.

 

“...What starts with a cartoon of Mohammad having sex with a goat (for this is the sort of image waiting to go out) will end with the coffins of little children fried alive in their own homes by the petrol bombs that are the weapon of choice of communal violence.”

 

Dowson’s blog gives us an insight into the mindset of those backing the cartoon exhibition and should give everyone great cause for concern. As a consequence, our opposition to the cartoon exhibition is not an attempt to curtail free speech but to prevent a clear incitement to violence.

 

Let us be clear: criticism of Islam is perfectly acceptable, as it should be of all religions. We should be able to criticise, denounce, mock and satirise. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression is an important part of any democracy and is an integral part of our cultural history.

 

But with that freedom comes responsibility for our actions, for harm: it has its limits. We oppose this cartoon exhibition on the grounds of incitement.

 

But let us also be clear: if the exhibition goes ahead then we will encourage everyone to ignore it and show their opposition in a more constructive, positive and unifying way.

 

The counter-jihadists do not believe it is possible for Muslims and non-Muslims to get along peacefully. So if the exhibition goes ahead, let’s prove to them how wrong they can be.

 Posted: 27 Jul 2015 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments

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ID required

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 09:13


Can anyone out there please identify this man for us please. He has a strong Scottish accent but may now live in the London/Home Counties area.

If you know him, or anything about him, them please drop me a line at nick@hopenothate.org.uk

All information will be treated in the upmost confidence

 Posted: 15 Jul 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Genocide Remembered: Srebrenica 20

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 11 July 2015, 12:18


Images © Jasmin Agovic, Bosnia

Images © Jasmin Agovic, Bosnia

It is 20 years today since more than 8,000 men and boys were massacred inside a UN safe haven, Srebrenica, by Bosnian Serb paramilitaries.

The massacre at Srebrenica in 1995 should be etched into our collective memory as a ‘never again’ moment. It is (officially) a genocide.

Yet this stain on Europe is being repeated over and over by those who wish to bring war, not peace. They seek division, not unity, and twist the words and ideals of our common society into something forged with far darker intent.

This face of evil comes in many guises: in the casual words of a radio DJ; the smiling rhetoric of a populist politician; in conspiracy theories about 9/11 or “Zionists”; in the racism of a flag, or the snarl behind a supremacist banner; and in the zealotry of religiously-inspired intolerance or extremism.

Each will claim to have the answer. Each will tell you to follow them. Each will say “the other” is the problem.

When will we learn?

This is a question I often find myself asking: when will we learn the lessons of Rwanda, South Sudan, Somalia, Bosnia, Congo, Syria, the Holocaust?

With terrorism both near and far, and wars and climate change looming on the horizon, it is easy to lose faith. But there are signs of hope, too, amid the fear and gloom.

From the White House’s historic rainbow colouring, to those of all faiths & none standing firm against neo-Nazi intimidation on London streets. From brave human rights defenders who suffer threats of imprisonment and torture, to those who help exhausted or tortured migrants – there are always people willing to extend the hand of friendship towards others, and those who will act on principle not merely personal gain.

It is heartening to know that we are not alone.

Hope is something that sometimes must be hard won. We can’t just “magic” it up. It takes courage, determination, and a willingness to endure hard knocks, while all around there will be those saying ‘take the easy route’ – pull up the drawbridge, turn on others, or (worse) seek to inflame tensions further (blaming ‘the cockroaches’, as Hutu radio DJs said of Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994).

‘Evil’ is not the monster ‘out there’. It is our own fear which, when coaxed by circumstance and those who ‘claim’ to have an answer, can turn our society into something dark and ugly. For how can we bring about a world we all claim to want – where we know and respect one another, where our children are safe, where we all ‘fit’ – if we turn with savagery on those who exhibit difference or herald change?

That to me is the lesson of Srebrenica – and of Rwanda, Sudan, Congo, Syria and other all the other tragedies which litter history.

Those of us who have seen war and its effects (and there are several on our team who have done so) know that only fools – and psychopaths – will herald the banners of hate. The rest of us should stand firm, unified, against the many masks of hate.

Remembering Srebrenica: www.srebrenica.org.uk

Images © Jasmin Agovic, Bosnia

Images © Jasmin Agovic, Bosnia

 Posted: 11 Jul 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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#WalkTogether in HOPE, not hate

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Tuesday, 7 July 2015, 18:50


Today we commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 bombings, a day in which we remember the victims and celebrate the survivors. It's also an important moment for London and for Britain - a chance to stand TOGETHER for the country we all want to share, in peace and unity.

A week ago we asked you to join us and #WalkTogether so we can show that we will not forget, We Are The Many and We Choose HOPE.

So thank you to the HOPE not hate supporters and some of our Trade Union Friends, from UNISON and TSSA, who joined other likeminded people and decided to #WalkTogether from the UNISON headquarters to Kings Cross, where we observed a minutes silence.

We stand united.

 Posted: 7 Jul 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Walk Together: 7/7

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 7 July 2015, 13:52


It is 10 years since 7/7, when 52 people died on the streets of London. It is also 20 years this week since the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.

We’re asking everyone to #WalkTogether* today, to get off public transport one stop early and walk – and remember – the victims of 7/7.

There are all too many people who still thrive on the hatred of the London bombers, or the Tunisian killers, or wish for the sectarian hatred of the former Yugoslavian wars. They exist across all faiths, all political groups, all ethnicities. They exist here, too, inside the far right and violent jihadi groups.

As someone who has been to, and seen, war zones first hand, I am simply staggered that such people can sleep easy at night.

Now, more than ever, is a time for dignified remembrance and continued vigilance against organised hatred.

HOPE not hate exists to mobilise the majority of people who stand opposed to hatred. We seek to bring people together around our positive values of respect, equality, tolerance and fairness. There will be many difficult times ahead in the future – perhaps even in the next few weeks – when society will be tested by those who seek to divide us. But however much we are tested, however much the extremists try to divide us, we have faith that the majority of people will stand strong and united.

So, please join with our friends today to #WalkTogether and stay unified, with us, in hope.

* #Walktogether is an initiative supported by Faiths Forum for London, Hope Not Hate, Islamic Society of Britain, Faith Matters, Trust for London, The Big Iftar, British Humanist Association, St John Ambulance, New Horizons in British Islam, City Sikhs, Inspire, JW3 Jewish Community Centre London, Armed Forces Muslim Forum and British Future.

 Posted: 7 Jul 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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'Counter-Jihadists' plan Muhammad cartoon competition

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 1 July 2015, 12:35


HOPE not hate is aware of a plan to exhibit the “Muhammad cartoons” – depicting the Muslim prophet, Muhammad – in central London this September.

Those behind this initiative are hoping to incite outrage and a counter-reaction from the Muslim community, in order to inflame communal tensions. They are doing so under the (false) guise of free speech. Incitement is not a “right”.

This initiative is part of a wider attempt by an international circle of ‘counter jihadists’ (anti-Muslim ideologues) to encourage a crackdown on Muslims. We must not play into their hands.

We will be consulting widely during the summer with partners and agencies, and the Muslim community, on appropriate responses.

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

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Golders Green Has Won

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 30 June 2015, 16:37


The anti-Semitic demonstration planned by neo-Nazis this coming weekend has been banned from Golders Green. It will instead take place in Whitehall for just one hour this Saturday.

This is an amazing victory – and we’d like to thank you all for your fantastic solidarity and support in saying NO! to antisemism. Thanks are also due to the Metropolitan Police for the work it has put into protecting our community.

Over the past few weeks we at HOPE not hate have had the privilege of working with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the London Jewish Forum under the banner of Golders Green Together, focusing on the positive energy and unity that is alive in the borough.

Over 50 political and community leaders joined us at the launch of Golders Green Together just under a month ago. Jews stood alongside Muslims, Hindus with Sikhs, and Christians with Buddhists, together with those of no religion. Fifty-eight (58) MPs also signed an Early Day Motion calling on the Home Secretary to take action and local MP Mike Freer used Prime Minister’s Question Time to raise the issue. We must thank them all, too.

We are grateful as well for everyone who helped us leaflet the area, for the schools who invited us in, the local shopkeepers who displayed our posters, and indeed everyone who helped spread the word about Golders Green Together. It has been an amazing show of unity – we’ve won! But this isn’t the end.

There’s still our Thunderclap to sign, which goes out at 5pm on Thursday evening – please do support it!

Im supporting #GoldersGreenTogether because Im saying no to #antisemitism and yes to #unity on 4th Julythndr.it/1dKzhSX

And on Friday morning we’ll celebrate by continuing with our plans to decorate Golders Green in gold and green. If you want to take part, just email john@hopenothate.org.uk for more details.

 Posted: 30 Jun 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Let's #WalkTogether on 7/7

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 30 June 2015, 11:28


Ten years ago, terrorists tried to divide us. Today HOPE not hate is joining a broad coalition of people, from all faiths and backgrounds, in calling for us all to come together and show that they failed.

Please join us and walk the last stop of your journey on 7 July, and show your support by sharing a photo using #WalkTogether.

7 July 2005 was just another Thursday morning and Londoners were on their way to work. But at ten to nine, terrorists detonated four bombs at Kings Cross, Aldgate, Edgware Road and Tavistock Square. 52 people lost their lives and over 770 were injured.

The victims were all of us: young and old, black and white, different faiths and none.

The tenth anniversary is a day to remember those whose lives were lost or changed forever. It's also an important moment for London and for Britain - a chance to stand up for the country we all want to share.

On that terrible day 10 years ago, London was shocked but it didn't grind to a halt. That evening, with public transport shut down, thousands of people walked home. But we were not divided - we walked together.

On Tuesday 7 July, we are asking people to walk together once again - to get off the bus, train or tube one stop early and walk, in a quiet moment of unity and remembrance of those who lost their lives.

Let's walk together

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/walktogether

#Walktogether is a new initiative supported by Faiths Forum for London, Hope Not Hate, Islamic Society of Britain, Faith Matters, Trust for London, The Big Iftar, British Humanist Association, St John Ambulance, New Horizons in British Islam, City Sikhs, Inspire, JW3 Jewish Community Centre London, Armed Forces Muslim Forum and British Future.

The decade that has followed has been an anxious one for Britain. But none of us wants fear and hate to win.

The power of #WalkTogether will come from people all over Britain taking part. You can walk at any time of day, wherever you are, with friends and colleagues or on your own. Please show your support by sharing a picture of your walk using the #WalkTogether hashtag.

If you are interested in walking with other likeminded people then sign up here and we will put you in touch

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/walktogether

I will email you again later this week with some more specific ideas of what you can do. In the meantime, put the date in your diary and make a commitment to yourself to make a stand for HOPE.

Join us and #WalkTogether

 Posted: 30 Jun 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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We Shall Overcome

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.

The Big Iftar, London 2013

The Big Iftar, London 2013

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.

Obama leads singing of Amazing Grace at Charleston funeral

Obama leads singing of Amazing Grace at Charleston funeral

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 15 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Supermarket attacker motivated by white supremacist ideology

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 25 June 2015, 15:39


Zack Davies

Zack Davies

  • 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