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Civil Society speaks out against the Gagging Bill

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 29 October 2013, 12:37


Since the end of August we haveve been campaigning against Part 2 of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill, an undemocratic and illiberal bill that will severely limit our ability to provide an antidote to racism, fascism and xenophobia in the 12 months before a General Election.

Today, HOPE not hate welcomes the report from the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement being launch in the House of Lords. HOPE not hate was part of the 40 plus group of prominent charities, campaign groups, academics, think tanks and online networks that launched an independent Commission in response to the Government’s poorly-written, rushed-through, civil society-gagging Lobbying Bill.

In the foreward to the report, the commission’s chair, Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, speaks for all of us when he says that: “There is no doubt, from the evidence that this Commission has gathered, that … the Bill risks profoundly undermining the very fabric of our democracy by significantly limiting the right of organisations – from charities and community groups to think tanks and blog sites – to speak out on some of the most important issues facing this country and the planet. Whether we agree with these organisations or not, their role is essential in order to have an informed, engaged electorate.”

HOPE not hate joins the Commission and calls upon the Government to pause and rethink, to allow for proper consultation, before it is too late. This recommendation only reiterates what other highly respected forums already stressed.

If this final call falls on deaf, self-serving ears again, then our last HOPE to ensure we can fight hate and fear rests with the members of the House of Lords and their willingness to amend this Bill in a major way, as to counter current disproportionate restrictions to issue-focused campaigning.

On behalf of our 200,000 supporters, we would like to thank the Civil Society Commission for their dedicated work in such a short time frame, and to ask the Lords to restore HOPE, safeguard our freedom of speech and freedom of association.

The Report on Non- Party Campaigning Ahead of Elections launched today by the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement can be found here: http://civilsocietycommission.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Civil-Society-Commission-Report-FINAL.pdf

 Posted: 29 Oct 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Anti-Muslim hate bomber and murderer jailed for 40 years

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 25 October 2013, 18:22


Bus CCTV Pavlo Lapshyn catches bus from Birmingham to Walsall carrying the bomb

Bus CCTV Pavlo Lapshyn catches bus from Birmingham to Walsall carrying the bomb

Motivated by a disturbing fantasy of Muslims ‘taking over’ and idealising killers such as Anders Breivik, Ukranian student Pavlo Lapshyn was today sentenced for a minimum of 40 years years for the appalling murder of a Muslim grandfather, Mohammed Saleem, in Birmingham and the bombing of three mosques in the West Midlands earlier this year.

HOPE not hate’s thoughts and prayers are with the family of Mr Saleem and we are pleased that justice has been done for them and the wider community in the West Midlands.

“Like Anders Breivik, and many English Defence League and other supporters of the anti-Muslim “Counter Jihad” movement, Pavlo Lapshyn shared in a disturbing fantasy that Muslims are taking over Europe – and only indiscriminate violence designed to provoke a backlash, can be the solution,” said HOPE not hate chief executive, Nick Lowles.

“Self-radicalised on the internet and inspired by neo-Nazi ideologues – murderers such as Lapshyn are the new face of terror attempting to influence communities across Europe today. We have seen the nihilistic hurt and pain they cause right back to David Copeland, the London nailbomber, in 1999.

“The pathetic irony of such killers is that they face far more in common with each other, whether Muslim, far-right or other extremist, than any members of their supposed communities. We must not let such sick and twisted fantasies as they share take hold within our communities.”

“Meanwhile, we hope that some sections of the media which sought to heavily downplay the effects of anti-Muslim hatred during the backlash following the abhorrent murder of Lee Rigby will now reflect keenly on their reporting in the light of today’s sentencing,” he said.

HOPE not hate has consistently exposed the workings of the Counter-Jihad movement, successfully lobbying the Home Secretary to ban the movement’s two key ideologues, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, from entering the UK earlier this summer. It has also exposed the activities of neo-Nazi movements and leaders in the UK and overseas.

For more information on HOPE not hate’s work on the international Counter-Jihad movement please visit www.hopenothate.org.uk/counter-jihad

 Posted: 25 Oct 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Justice in the West Midlands

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 21 October 2013, 16:17


Pavlo Lapshyn. Photo: West Midlands Police

Pavlo Lapshyn. Photo: West Midlands Police

Reports from Birmingham state that Pavlo Lapshyn has this afternoon pleaded guilty to the racist murder to Mohammed Saleem, the eighty year old pensioner who was murdered on his way home from the mosque in April. Lapshyn has also pleaded guilty to targeting three Muslim places of worship in the West Midlands, Tipton, Wolverhampton and Walsall.

HOPE not hate will continue to report on events as they develop but, we are pleased that the perpetrator has been brought to justice and the community can begin the difficult process of healing.

 Posted: 21 Oct 2013 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Advans Part 2

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 18 October 2013, 12:04


In July this year the UK Borders Agency launched a 'pilot' urging illegal immigrants to Go Home. Thousands of you contacted your MP's to make it clear that the terminology, the locations and the pilot itself were not only deeply objectionable but were also incredibly divisive. The response from MP's was fascinating with a clear split on party lines as to whether these ad vans were appropriate, with the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats finding them unacceptable, whilst the majority (but not all) Conservatives supported the policy.

At the time, I raised HOPE not hate's concerns that this may be a sign of things to come in the run-up to the election and unfortunately it seems that we were right. Yesterday the Independent newspaper published a story that contractors for the UKBA were sending unsolicited text messages to people informing them that they no longer had the right to live in the UK. Two of these text messages were received by anti-racism campaigners who have lived in the UK for over 20 years. This level of intimidation and harassment can be seen as little more then an attempt to bully people and create a toxic environment in communities across the country. It's simply not acceptable and HOPE not hate will continue to campaign for a progressive Britain which celebrates our diverse society

For more information on the story:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/antiracism-campaigner-and-immigration-caseworker-sent-go-home-text-messages-by-home-office-8886200.html

 Posted: 18 Oct 2013 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Hate Crime Awareness week 2013

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 14 October 2013, 18:29


This week marks the second annual Hate Crime Awareness week. In the last twelve months we've seen some of the most awful examples of hate crime reported in the national and local media. From the murders of Fusilier Lee Rigby and Mohammed Saleem, to the vandalism of the Bomber Command memorial and the countless attacks on Muslim places of worship. These disgusting incidents have rightly grabbed the headlines, but they have hidden the day-to-day lower levels of hate crime, which make peoples lives miserable on a daily basis, from antisemitism, to homophobia, disability hate and racism and all other forms of hate.

Hate is unacceptable in any society and HOPE not hate will continue to make sure that it isn't reflected in our politics whilst supporting and promoting the work of our partners who do such amazing work supporting victims of crime. From CST to Tell Mama, Mencap to Stop Hate UK and of course Vitim Support.

HOPE not hate are proud to be supporting the activities of a range of our sister organisations. For more information please visit: http://172430notohatecrime.wordpress.com/vigil/2013-2/.

 Posted: 14 Oct 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The road to Damascus or a political stunt? Lennon leaves the EDL

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 9 October 2013, 16:24


It has been almost 36 hours since news broke that Stephen Lennon was leaving the EDL. Since then he has been touted around the television studios and inundated the airwaves with claims that he was turning his back on the street movement that he set up in 2009 because of the continuing battle to keep out racists and Nazis from it's ranks.
He claimed that he had realised the futility of street protests and even admitted that the EDL had become "part of the problem".

HOPE not hate was suspicious of his actions from the very beginning, not least because only three days before his damascene conversion he was camped outside the Reading home of someone he thought opposed the EDL. Hardly the behaviour of someone who was breaking from his past.

However, we gave the news of his departure a cautious welcome. Perhaps it was genuine. Perhaps we just wanted it to be true. Maybe it was because we could not believe that the Quilliam Foundation would publicly and so aggressively trumpet Lennon's conversion if it was not real.

Now, 36 hours on, our concerns about this whole affair appear to be growing or even confirmed.

The much publicised press conference is best remembered for what Lennon didn't say. There was no remorse for his own role in stirring up anti-Muslim hatred over the years. There was no acknowledgement that he had deliberately conflated everyday practices of mainstream Muslims with a tiny minority of Islamist extremists. There was no apology for the millions of pounds wasted or thousands of people EDL demos had targeted and scared.

All we got was the blame being put on alleged Nazis within the group and an admission that street protests were futile. Pressed by the media, Kevin Carroll, Lennon's cousin and number two, said: "We are still singing off the same him sheet." Later that evening, Lennon refused to answer Paxman's question as to whether his views had changed. On Channel Four News, he initially denied having ever made anti-Muslim remarks.

Two people who do not think Lennon has changed are Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, arguably the most important anti-Muslim activists in the world. Shortly before the sham news conference Geller blogged her support for Lennon's decision to leave the EDL and looked forward to working with him in the future. Pressed to renounce the pair at the news conference, Lennon not only refused but spoke positively of them.

Lennon and his supporters had indicated that they plan to establish a new anti-Islamist movement but devoid of the Nazis who ruined the EDL. It sounds a bit like business as usual for the former EDL leader.

The Quilliam Foundation and it's supporters have pleaded for patience, arguing that political conversions do not happen overnight and old habits and views die hard. Sadly, this appears to be a desperate attempt at damage limitation for an organisation whose credibility will be ruined if Lennon's conversion proves to be false.

It emerged at the press conference that Lennon had only been in contact with Quilliam for a week and that they had only actually met twice. Perhaps if Quilliam had taken events a bit slower and not rushed to claim a PR coup then we would all be clearer about Lennon and Carroll's real motives.

HOPE not hate staff has dealt with dozens of people who have come out of far right groups. Most do it privately but a few publicly. The difference is that they show real remorse and contrition for their past activities and some, like my close colleague Matthew Collins, now works tirelessly to ensure others do not make the same mistake.

We have heard nothing like this from Lennon and Carroll and we are left to wonder whether this is a tactical rather than political change.
Quilliam must be hoping that Lennon and Carroll come good, otherwise they could end up contributing to the formation of a new sanitised and mainstream anti-Muslim organisation firmly embedded to an international movement involving haters such as Pam Geller.

Last night Lennon described his former EDL colleagues as "the best people of his life". Today, on twitter, he shared friendly conversations with a member of the EDL security team who was once imprisoned for a racist attack.

36 hours after the news broke, Lennon and Carroll's political shift is looking more like a political stunt.

 Posted: 9 Oct 2013 | There are 13 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The EDL may be down but they aren't out yet

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 9 October 2013, 14:59


We need your support in Bradford this week

Guest blog by Paul Meszaros

Once again communities in Bradford are threatened by the EDL, who are going to demonstrate this Saturday in the City Centre. The response from organisations and individuals in Bradford has been absolutely clear and unanimous in how we will respond to this racist provocation. Under the umbrella of Bradford Together many groups including, Bradford TUC, Muslim Women's Council, Bradford Council for Mosques, Bradford Women for Peace, Unison, the Regional TUC and many others' have decided on a two pronged strategy.

Firstly we believe it is important to engage with as many Bradfordians as possible, talking about and addressing the issues raised by this racist invasion. The response has been overwhelming as almost 20,000 postcards have been signed.

Secondly it was decided that any counter demonstrations ran the risk of being counterproductive and dangerous. All groups involved decided that the best way for Bradfordians to register their opposition to the racists was by means of a peaceful and dignified celebration of our city. Allowing HOPE to triumph over hate by example.

To this end we have organised a family friendly event in Centenary Square, on Friday afternoon, that will be kicked off by the "Women for Peace" dressing the town in ribbons. Food and entertainment will be on offer and we will see the unveiling of the wall of HOPE made out of the thousands of postcards that represent the real Bradford.

I hope you will be able to join us on Friday to show that Bradford will not be divided and will not fall for the provocation of the racists.

 Posted: 9 Oct 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Six questions to ask Stephen Lennon

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 8 October 2013, 18:05


1) Will you accept your role in inciting and fostering anti-Muslim hatred in communities up and down the country?

2) If so, what do you intend to do about it?

3) Do you admit to deliberately conflating Islamist extremism with the faith of Islam to spread an anti-Muslim agenda?

4) If the EDL has been taken over by far right extremists will you name names?

5) Will you reveal the names of the EDL funders?

6) Will you renounce your past links and speak out against Pam Geller and Robert Spencer?

 Posted: 8 Oct 2013 | There are 6 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Muslim haters back Lennon and Carroll's move

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 8 October 2013, 17:04


anti-Muslim hater Pam Geller backs Lennon and looks forward to working with him in the future

anti-Muslim hater Pam Geller backs Lennon and looks forward to working with him in the future

Today's news has been dominated by the decision of Stephen Lennon and Kevin Carroll to quit the English Defence League. The Quilliam Foundation, who brokered this defection, have championed this move as a significant breakthrough. Questions remain though.

Throughout the day HOPE not hate has been increased concerned about how genuine their conversion actually is. This morning I wrote: "“We celebrate Quilliam’s efforts here, but only a complete renunciation of the violence and hatred the EDL leaders have promoted, and a turning away from the anti-Muslim rhetoric they have championed, will be enough for the many thousands who have suffered from the EDL’s ugly actions over the past three years."

Now we have even more reason to be concerned. A few minutes ago Pamela Geller, one of the world's most rabid anti-Muslim activists, has blogged her support for Lennon and Carroll. She claims that his decision came after years of fighting extremists within the EDL. "He has decided, and my AFDI colleague Robert Spencer and I strongly endorse his decision, that his time is better spent working for the defense of England and human rights against Sharia and Islamization in different and more effective ways."

She ends the blog: "We look forward to working with Robinson and Carroll in the future as we continue this great struggle for freedom."

There have been rumours throughout the day that the pair intend to set up a new anti-Islamist political movement devoid of the racism of the EDL. To us, this will just be EDL mark II.

We hope we will be proved wrong but our skeptism about Lennon and Carroll's real intentions is growing by the minute. Quilliam have secured a massive coup if this is genuine or they are unwittingly helping to set up a new far right party and in the process sanitised and mainstreamed anti-muslim hatred.

 Posted: 8 Oct 2013 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Reaction to EDL leaders ‘defecting’

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 8 October 2013, 11:18


We are reacting with cautious optimism to news from the Quilliam Foundation that English Defence League (EDL) leaders ‘Tommy Robinson’ (Stephen Lennon) and his cousin Kevin Carroll are leaving the EDL.
 
In its statement, Quilliam announces that Robinson and Carroll can “no longer keep extremist elements at bay” from the group they founded in Luton in 2009.
 
However, what is less clear at this stage is whether Robinson and Carroll are renouncing the racism, Islamophobia and violence that they promoted, or for the anti-Muslim hatred that followed in their wake.
 
Since Robinson/Lennon descended with 100 supporters in a drunken riot on the night Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered in Woolwich, there has been a large spike in anti-Muslim incidents – including mosque arsons, bombings (with the alleged perpetrator also accused of murdering a Muslim grandfather), desecration of Muslim graves and the Metropolitan Police recording a sharp rise in Islamophobic crimes in the capital.
 
There are still many questions over the future of the EDL post-Robinson/Carroll, and what happens to all the thugs they have so gleefully whipped up.
 
Said HOPE not hate director, Nick Lowles: “We celebrate Quilliam’s efforts here, but only a complete renunciation of the violence and hatred the EDL leaders have promoted, and a turning away from the anti-Muslim rhetoric they have championed, will be enough for the many thousands who have suffered from the EDL’s ugly actions over the past three years.
 
“EDL supporters have called for mosques to be burned, holy books to be destroyed, Muslims to be deported, they have cost us £10m in policing bills, brought disorder to our streets, and many, many more have been sentenced for acts of violence, gun possession, paedophilia and other crimes.
 
“To claim they represented working class Britons was laughable: HOPE not hate and others have worked closely with unions, faith groups and the real working class of Britain to oppose the blind hatred and violence promoted via the EDL and its counter-jihadist backers. What happens now to those wealthy individuals who have backed the EDL leaders to the hilt? We doubt they, or Lennon/Carroll, will disappear so quickly from the scene.
 
“Merely setting up a new party or anti-Muslim organisation will not be enough to convince anti-hate campaigners, and those interested in democratic government, that Lennon and Carroll have truly renounced their ways. We hope they have. Well done to Quilliam but many questions still remain.”
 
For more information, please contact 07951237721 or 020 7681 8660
 
#wearethemany

 Posted: 8 Oct 2013 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments

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A victory against extremism

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 4 October 2013, 21:12


Last week I blogged about a conference being held in London, scheduled for this weekend.

Entitled, ‘Beloved to Allah’, the conference agenda featured several Homophobic hate preachers. The one day conference was due to be held at the Edmonton Islamic Centre (Sunday 6th October).

I am pleased to announce that after a campaign by HOPE not hate and other partners the Centre has cancelled the event. We understand that this may be the first time an event of this type has been cancelled.

HOPE not hate believe it is important to be consistent in our opposition to hate speech. Just as we would speak out against right-wing homophobes, so too must we voice our opposition to those in any community or faith who vocalise violence and even death against others.

 Posted: 4 Oct 2013 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Join us in sending a message to Nick Griffin

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 3 October 2013, 21:10


We all watched in horror when on 5th June 2009, Nick Griffin, BNP Leader, Holocaust denier and lifelong fascist, stood in Manchester Town Hall and gave a victory salute after being elected to represent us in the North West in the European Parliament.

We must make sure that this doesn't happen again next year when Nick Griffin is seeking re-election.

To launch the campaign, on Saturday October 12th, trade unions, anti-fascists and anti-racist campaigners in the North West will be marching in Liverpool City Centre in a mass celebration of a city and a country build on our shared values of diversity, tolerance and respect.

The march sets off from William Brown Street, Liverpool 3, at 13:00 and will end with a rally at the Pier Head, Liverpool 3.

Strong communities are safe communities - it is only by standing together that communities can be defended against hatred and division.

This event is all about celebrating what unites our communities, in the face of those that seek to divide us - Nick Griffin, BNP leader and MEP for the North West.

With the BNP in serious financial trouble, robbing the fascists of Griffin's MEP wages could even lead to bankruptcy. This could be the campaign that finishes off the BNP for good.

We must stand united to make sure that he does not get re-elected in 2014.

Join us in Liverpool on Saturday 12th October 2013 and send a clear message to the far-right - by coming together we can destroy the BNP.

Join the HOPE not hate campaign to Sack Nick Griffin in 2014

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/sack-nick-griffin


 Posted: 3 Oct 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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It's nearly our birthday

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 3 October 2013, 09:05


In only six months the HOPE not hate campaign will be 10 years old! It's truly incredible to recollect all the things that we have achieved together in the last decade. From defeating the BNP in Barking & Dagenham to getting the EDL banned from Tower Hamlets and finally ousting the BNP from Burnley. Our success has been your success and we want to make sure that our birthday is an opportunity to celebrate HOPE defeating hate.

Over the summer the team and I decided to mark our birthday with a new commemorative calendar. Each month marks one of our proudest moments as a campaign. It is also a campaign tool for next years European elections, highlighting opportunities to bring people together in local communities and in the workplace.

We've got big plans for next year which we'll keep you informed about, but today I just want to say thank you for your support throughout the last decade. We really wouldn't have achieved anything without you.

You can get a copy of our calendar here http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/shop/calendar

 Posted: 3 Oct 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments