HOPE not hate

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The voice of Manchester will speak louder than the voice of hatred.

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 27 February 2013, 09:22


Manchester councillor Afzal Khan speaks out against the EDL

Manchester councillor Afzal Khan speaks out against the EDL

This weekend the Defence League circus goes to Manchester. Whereas back in 2010 their protest attracted 1,500 supporters, this event is likely to be pitifully small. However, its purpose of spreading hatred and division is the same.

Manchester councillor and HOPE not hate supporter, Afzal Khan, has written an article for the Manchester Evening News. I think it's right on the money and deserves to have a wider audience. So here is Afzal's take on how HOPE should defeat hate in Manchester this weekend.

"If it was up to me, this Saturday's EDL demonstration would be banned.

"Many of us remember the last time the EDL came to Manchester, in 2009. Not only did the event cause widespread disruption in the city centre, but it also incurred an estimated £800,000 in police and security costs.

"The right to freedom of speech, including the right to demonstrate, is an indispensable component of democracy and genuine citizenship, and a right that has been hard-won in this country – not least in Manchester, where hundreds were injured and fifteen killed in the Peterloo Massacre simply for exercising their right to protest. But what do we do when an organisation uses its right to free speech not as a means of self-determination and expression, but to bully and abuse others?

"I believe in free speech. But I believe also that when someone says ‘I have a right to free speech!’, we then have a right to ask them ‘What are you going to use it for?’

"Are you going to use it to call for greater democracy and social justice, as the Peterloo protesters did?

"Are you going to use it to celebrate the diversity of our great city and the contribution of all of our communities, as I and many others will be doing this Friday evening at the HOPE not hate vigil in Manchester Cathedral?

"Or are you going to waste your right to free speech, as the English Defence League do, on racist football chants, and on praise of the murderer Anders Breivik?

"Although the EDL claim to be an inclusive group, ‘peacefully protesting against militant Islam’, we should judge them by their actions as well as their words. Their leader, Stephen Lennon, or ‘Tommy Robinson’ as he calls himself, was released from prison on Friday - only the day after another supporter was jailed for slashing a pub landlord’s throat. This is not what I understand by peaceful protest.

"Under Nick Griffin, who is still, shamefully, a Member of the European Parliament for our region, the British National Party tried for a while to present themselves as a legitimate political organisation – but time and again their own members and supporters let them down and reveal what they really are: nothing but a tiny minority of thugs, spreading a divisive message of hate, and finding fewer and fewer people prepared to listen.

"The English Defence League is just another manifestation of the shambles that is the far right in Britain. They were conceived in a £500,000 apartment and shaped by people ideologically opposed to Islam – including a director of a City investment fund and a property developer. These people do not speak for the working class of Great Britain, and they certainly do not speak for Manchester.

"This Saturday's demonstration seems certain to go ahead. But I am confident that, this weekend, the voice of Manchester will speak louder than the voice of hatred.

"I hope that our businesses, shoppers and those out and about in the city centre will go on as usual, without being bothered or intimidated by those who seek to disrupt us. I hope that those who turn out to protest against the EDL do so in a way that is peaceful, friendly, and celebratory. I hope the English Defence League will realise that they have few friends here. And I hope that the unhappy spectacle of the far right flaunting their message of hate in front of our beautiful Town Hall – that well-known symbol of our accepting, tolerant, multicultural city – is one we will never have to see again."

 Posted: 27 Feb 2013 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments

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London campaign day - Sunday 3 March

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 24 February 2013, 08:12


HOPE not hate will be joining forces with a number of local trade unions to hold a leafleting session in Harold Hill next Sunday. There is a council by-election in the Gooshays ward in Havering on Thursday 21 March and the BNP has picked local racist Mick Braun as its candidate.

The BNP once had a councillor in Gooshays ward and has been campaigning in the area over recent weeks. It has distributed one leaflet, held a stall and given out food to elderly people.

We will be looking to distribute a leaflet across the ward plus some more targeted work closer to polling day.

We will be notifying activists across East London about our plans over the next couple of days but if anyone is interested in helping out please do drop me a line at nick@hopenothate.org.uk

 Posted: 24 Feb 2013 | There are 6 comments | make a comment/view comments

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HnH dinner a roaring success

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 15 February 2013, 07:30


Speech Debelle talking to HOPE not hate supporters

Speech Debelle talking to HOPE not hate supporters

Over 130 people attended a HOPE not hate fundraising dinner on Wednesday night. Journalists, trade unionists, campaigners and supporters came together for a great evening of food, drink and chat at the excellent Azzurro restaurant near London Bridge.

Among those there were Daily Mirror editor Peter Willis and associate editor Kevin Maguire. Our guest speaker was HOPE not hate patron Speech Debelle.

The evening also provided us with an opportunity to recognise the winners of our Community Champions award. Four of the ten winners were able to attend, including Zeinab Mohammed, Chris Keene, Sajda Mughal and Shamshad Iqbal. They were given awards by Peter Willis.

The evening was a great success as it both raised money but was also an opportunity to thank those who had supported us over the last year. Several trade unions sponsored tables, including the GMB, RMT, ASLEF and TULO. There were also people there from Unison and Thompson's solicitors.

A full report of the evening will appear in the next issue of the HOPE not hate magazine.

Mirror editor Peter Willis giving a community champion award to 7/7 survivor turned campaigner Sajda Mughal

Mirror editor Peter Willis giving a community champion award to 7/7 survivor turned campaigner Sajda Mughal

Kevin Maguire runs the highly chaotic but successful auction

Kevin Maguire runs the highly chaotic but successful auction

Community winner Zeinab Mohammed (left)

Community winner Zeinab Mohammed (left)

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan (left) enjoying the evening

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan (left) enjoying the evening

Burnley community worker Chris Keene receives his Community Champion award

Burnley community worker Chris Keene receives his Community Champion award

 Posted: 15 Feb 2013 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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New date for HOPE not hate meeting with Carlos Saavedra

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 11 February 2013, 09:56


I'm delighted to announce that the meeting with Carlos Saavedra, of United We Dream, will now take place on Tuesday 19 February. The venue will again be at the headquarters of the TSSA, which is just a minute's walk from Euston station.

So, here are the new meeting details:

7pm Tuesday 19 February

TSSA, Walkden House, 10 Melton Street, London, NW1 2EJ

Once again apologies for the postponement of tonight's meeting, which was caused by Carlos' flight to the UK being cancelled due to heavy snow in the Boston area.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions

 Posted: 11 Feb 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Carlos meeting postponed

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 10 February 2013, 11:08


I'm afraid we are having to postpone the meeting with Carlos Saavedra tomorrow evening as he has been caught up in the bad weather that has swept across the United States. Carlos lives in Boston and as of last night the city was under a foot and a half of snow. He was due to fly out this morning but unsurprisingly his flight has been cancelled.

Carlos is still coming though and will arrive in the UK on Tuesday.

We have decided to re-organise the meeting for 7pm Tuesday 19 February. Hopefully we will again be at the headquarters of the TSSA but will confirm this tomorrow. If their meeting room is not available then we will find another location in the Euston/Kings Cross area.

Sorry for inconveniencing everyone but I hope you can appreciate the circumstances behind this postponement.

Hope to see all those who registered to attend at our re-arranged meeting on Tuesday 19 February. More details to follow.

 Posted: 10 Feb 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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A busy Saturday

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 10 February 2013, 08:00


The HOPE not hate team is recovering from a busy weekend. Yesterday, our research team was monitoring the launch meeting of the British Democratic Party, with our photographers out catching all the people entering the event. Ruth was up in Nottingham, running a workshop for local councillors at the Local Government Association training day.

I, meanwhile, was at a meeting of Muslim organisations who had gathered to discuss 'grooming' and develop a community response. There were about 30 people present, including representatives from all the main Muslim organisations in the UK. I gave a short talk about how the far right were exploiting the issue and the risk of growing tensions and divisions between local communities if this issue is not addressed. There were other presentations from child protection experts and local Muslim community initiatives. A strategy is being developed, more of which I will report on in due course.

Today I was supposed to be welcoming Carlos Saavedra to the UK but as the airport in Boston is still closed due to the heavy snowfall in recent days his arrival has been delayed.

 Posted: 10 Feb 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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HOPE not hate article in New Statesman

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 8 February 2013, 15:36


Brons will be launching the new party tomorrow

Brons will be launching the new party tomorrow

Tomorrow's 'big' meeting of the BNP old guard has stirred a hornet's nest of interest. My colleague Matthew Collins has written an excellent piece for the New Statesman website on the new party, which I would recommend everyone reads.

As usual it is to the point, informative and accurate.

 Posted: 8 Feb 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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'HOPE and dream' tour is now close

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 8 February 2013, 06:35


Carlos, centre, campaigning with other DREAMers

Carlos, centre, campaigning with other DREAMers

The final preparations are being made to the visit to the UK next week by immigration reform activist Carlos Saavedra. Carlos is one of the founders of United We Dream, an organisation for young undocumented Latinos which has been at the forefront of the campaign for comprehensive immigration reform in the United States.

Last year, the DREAMers, as they are commonly known, were credited with playing a decisive role in forcing President Obama to sign an executive order to defer deportations of undocumented Latinos in education and create a pathway to citizenship. Now comprehensive immigration reform for the country’s eleven million undocumented people is firmly on the political agenda, but as Carlos is first to admit nothing can be taken for granted.

Carlos is an exceptional organiser and trainer and HOPE not hate is delighted to be able to bring him over to the UK. He will be here for almost two weeks and during that time he will be speaking at events in London, Coventry, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. There are public meetings, training sessions and smaller gatherings to discuss strategy.

In keeping with HOPE not hate’s growing strategy to form partnerships and working relationships with other organisations, we are also really pleased that other groups will also benefit from his visit. Carlos will be speaking at meetings organised by Migrant Rights Network, Trade Union Labour Organisation (TULO) and Unison. In Leeds, he will be running a training session for 60 people involved in immigrant and refugee rights, at an event organised by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. In London, he will be involved in a Skills Sharing workshop for refugee and asylum youth, hosted by the Barrow Cadbury Trust and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Carlos’s meeting in Coventry is being organised in partnership between HOPE not hate and Student Action for Refugees (STAR). STAR are also supporting the HOPE not hate training day in Manchester on Sunday 17 February, as are the Coexistence Trust, and with almost 80 people registered it should be an excellent event. While in Manchester, he will also be addressing an interfaith breakfast hosted by the Bishop of Manchester.

Over 500 people have registered to attend events over the next two weeks and the hope is that if we can learn just a little bit from Carlos we will make our own campaigning more effective and improve our ability to fight for better rights for immigrants and refugees in this country.

Given the exciting itinerary above and the inspiring story of Carlos and the DREAMers I hope you can appreciate why we are all so excited about his visit.

To attend the HOPE not hate public meeting with Carlos in London, click here: 

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/meet-the-dreamers-london

* If you would like to know any more about the events mentioned above then please do drop me an email at nick@hopenothate.org.uk

 Posted: 8 Feb 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Robert Spencer exposed as Catholic deacon

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 6 February 2013, 10:27


Robert Spencer One of America's leading 'Counter-Jihad' activists

Robert Spencer One of America's leading 'Counter-Jihad' activists

One of America's leading 'Counter-Jihad' activists, Robert Spencer, has been exposed as a Catholic Deacon in New Hampshire, USA.

This story has been broken by our friends at Loonwatch, a US-based website dedicated to monitoring the activities of the so-called 'Counter-Jihad' movement.

http://www.loonwatch.com/2013/02/exclusive-reverend-deacon-robert-spencer-of-our-lady-of-the-cedars-maronite-church/

A more detailed look at Spencer's Catholicism can be found on Richard Bartholomew's website:

http://barthsnotes.com/2013/02/05/robert-spencer-and-the-melkite-greek-catholic-church/

Loonwatch point out the hypocrisy in Spencer's attitude towards women. "In the Melkite tradition, women are not allowed to enter the Holy Place, where the altar stands, and girls are not allowed as altar servers. But of course Spencer rails about discrimination against women in Islam yet he doesn’t notice such blatant discrimination happening in his own tradition."

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

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HOPE not hate ‘Counter-Jihad’ seminar

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 5 February 2013, 22:10


User engagement on the ACT! For America facebook page. Part of the presentation by the students at Amsterdam University

User engagement on the ACT! For America facebook page. Part of the presentation by the students at Amsterdam University

HOPE not hate held its first seminar on the ‘Counter-Jihad’ movement today. Called The ‘Counter-Jihad’ movement: Analysing the threat and developing community responses, the event brought together thirty-two people - from academics, researchers, practictioners, policy makers, Muslim, Jewish and Christian organisations and campaigners.

To my knowledge it was the first ever event looking specifically at the 'Counter-Jihad' movement in the UK.

I opened the event with a presentation on the ‘Counter-Jihad’ movement and this was followed by my colleague Matthew Collins who described the rise and fall of the English Defence League. Matthew Elworthy, from the University of Amsterdam, gave a fascinating presentation about online Counter-Jihadism. This was based on the data sprint he and 50 students undertook last month where they spent a week looking at the online behaviour and activity of ‘Counter-Jihadists’. More of this in another blog.

Graeme Atkinson and Jean-Yves Camus, a Research Associate at the Institut de relations internationales et stratégiques, Paris, looked at islamophobia and the ‘Counter-Jihad’ scene in European countries.

After lunch Dr Chris Allen discussed Islamophobia in Britain today, Fiyaz Mughal talked about the findings of the Tell Mama project and Sara Khan, from the Muslim women’s human rights group Inspire, looked at the use of Muslim women as political pawns.

The final presentation was given by Peter Adams, an interfaith worker from Luton, who not only discussed some of the issues he faced working in Luton but raised some of the challenges the Christian community had to address when dealing with the ‘Counter-Jihad’ world.

Over the next day or two I will try to expand on what people said in more detail and I will try to add my own thoughts about how we take our own work forward. In the meantime, I’d like to thank all those who attended today.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2013 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Are the English Democrats the stupid party?

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 3 February 2013, 10:33


By linking up with the English National Resistance the English Democrats are committing political suicide

By linking up with the English National Resistance the English Democrats are committing political suicide

You really have to hand it to the English Democrats (ED), they really know how to destroy themselves. A couple of years ago ED leader Robin Tilbrook understandably took a decision to tack right in order to exploit the collapse of the British National Party. For a while it seemed to work, as dozens of BNP members, including some of their more able organisers, joined them.

But the problem for Tilbrook and the English Democrats they simply don’t know when to stop going rightwards. In their latest PR disaster, the ED’s are forming an alliance with the political nutters at Britain First and the thugs of the English Defence League to form a street gang called the English National Resistance, which leading member Steve Uncles calls “an exciting new dawn for patriotic politics.”

He could have also used the phrase ‘another nail in the coffin’ for the English Democrats but who is arguing over small phrases when the sentiment is the same.

Tilbrook was buoyed up by our Fear and HOPE report, published in 2011, which highlighted the potential for a more mainstream right wing nationalist party. Tilbrook took that as a sign that the party had the potential to become a political force.

However, he seems to have forgotten the qualifying part of this and other data. However much the British public might agree with an anti-immigrant nationalist message much of this support will quickly evaporate if the party is linked to violence and thuggery. And that is precisely what is happening to the English Democrats.

By linking up with Britain First and remnants of the collapsing EDL, the English Democrats are wrapping a scarf of violence and political extremism around their necks. In addition, many of their leading activists, including organisers, are regularly issuing threats on twitter to political opponents. Not the sort of behaviour that the public will expect or like from a normal political party.

I have always said that the English Democrats is not a traditional far right party and it is nothing like the BNP. However, in its bid for political growth – and perhaps relevance – it is aligning itself more and more with the far right and as a result is increasingly becoming a target for HOPE not hate. Tilbrook and other in the English Democrats will bitterly complain at this assessment but they only have themselves to blame.

 Posted: 3 Feb 2013 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Campaign update

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 2 February 2013, 07:34


Here’s an update on our campaign to prevent the Alliance of European National Movements (AENM) receiving funding from the European Parliament because it fails to protect the founding values of the European Union.

  • Well over the necessary 189 MEPs, from at least three different political groupings, have signed the request for funding review.
  • The request now goes to the Conference of Presidents (the leaders of the established political groupings and the President of the parliament) for discussion and is referred to the Constitutional Affairs Committee.
  • The Constitutional Affairs Committee appoint a Rapporteur and establish a committee of "Eminent People" to review the request.
  • The "Eminent People" committee (of which there will be 3 members) commence an investigation and will make a recommendation based on the current rules.
  • The Constitutional Affairs Committee will likely adopt the recommendation and then send it to a full vote of the Parliament

In the interim the Conference of Presidents has to decide whether to issue the money or allocate the funds but suspend the payment. We understand that the Socialists and Democrats Group are going to suggest this latter option but it is unclear whether this will be accepted.

HOPE not hate is putting together a briefing on why we believe that AENM fail to protect the founding values of the European Union.

We will provide updates on the campaign as and when we receive them.

 Posted: 2 Feb 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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HOPE not hate weekend of action

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 1 February 2013, 09:25


HOPE not hate has today announced that Saturday and Sunday 13/14th April will be its main weekend of action for the 2013 county council and Mayoral elections. There will be follow-up activities over the weekend of 27/28 April.

There will be campaign activities organised for all of our key areas of the country, including Burnley and Pendle (Lancashire), Heanor (Derbyshire), Nuneaton (Warwickshire), Hinckley and Coalville (Leicestershire), Spalding and Boston (Lincolnshire), County Durham, and Doncaster and North Tyneside for the Mayoral elections.

We are delighted that the National Union of Teachers are sponsoring our tabloid newspapers again. We will also be producing leaflets to counter British National Party, British Democratic Party, National Front and English Democrat candidates in others.

Please keep the date free and if you live in or near one of the above areas and would like to get involved in the campaign sessions please contact Matt at Matt@hopenothate.org.uk

More details will be released nearer the time as and when we know exactly who is standing where.

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