You are viewing blog items for March 2017.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 24 March 2017, 08:03
We are all still coming to terms with Wednesday's terrorist attacks in London. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the families of those killed, all those who were injured, and to our colleagues and friends who were in Westminster at the time.
In the aftermath of an attack like this, it is so important that we do not allow those who try to divide us to succeed.
Our mission has always been to stand in the face of any individual or extreme ideology that seeks to create hatred or to drive a wedge between our communities.
That's why I'm asking you, our HOPE not hate community, to join us and stand together to spread a loud and clear message of hope.
Brendan Cox and Mike Haines – who have suffered unimaginable loss at the hands of hateful extremists – have a short message which I'm proud to share with you.
Please watch it below then rise up against the hateful voices that are trying to drive us apart, by going online and sharing your own message of hope using the hashtag #HopeNotHate >>
Posted: 24 Mar 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: HOPE not hate | on: Thursday, 23 March 2017, 19:09
Yesterday afternoon, a horrendous terror attack shook London, as a knife-wielding man drove a car through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before ramming the gates of the Houses of Parliament and attacking a policeman guarding the building.
Five people were killed and a further 40 injured, seven of whom are in a critical condition. Among the dead is PC Keith Palmer, 48, a father with 15 years experience in the force, as well as the suspected attacker, Khalid Masood, 52, who was shot dead by armed officers.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced this morning that Masood, born in Kent and living in the West Midlands, had been known to the security services and police, and that while eight others have been arrested in raids across the country, he is believed to have acted alone. The Islamic State has since claimed responsibility for yesterday’s violence.
The purpose of committing such brutal, unforgivable attacks is not only (or just) to kill, but also to inspire fear and suspicion within the wider population.
In the wake of such heartbreaking news it is the responsibility of public figures to provide sober responses that help ease tensions. Considered responses defy the ideologies that seek to frighten and divide us and can preclude a potential spiral towards further violence.
Unsurprisingly, a variety of right-wing figures in the UK have neglected to do this, opting instead to capitalise on fears and stoke anger towards Muslim and minority communities.
Responses to the attack from within UKIP demonstrate the deep rifts between the moderates currently influencing the leadership and the hard-line anti-immigrant Faragists.
UKIP leader Paul Nuttall, who has previously sought to scapegoat refugees in UK in the wake of the Cologne attacks last year, gave an uncharacteristically measured initial response: “A terrible attack on our democracy has taken place today. My thoughts tonight go out to the victims of this terrorist atrocity and their families”.
UKIP Deputy Chair Suzanne Evans countered the inevitable claims that “Muslims never condemn these attacks”, retweeting a statement from the Muslim Council slamming the carnage.
Unfortunately former UKIP leader Nigel Farage took a different route. Before the identity of the attacker had even been announced Farage spoke of a “fifth column living inside these European countries” on Fox News, stating that: “What these politicians have done in the space of just 15 years may well affect the way we live in this country for the next 100 years”.
“If you open your door to uncontrolled immigration from Middle Eastern countries you are inviting in terrorism”, said Farage. Farage even contrived to spin the tragedy to condemn opposition to Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, saying that: “Protestors... need to have a long, hard think about what they are doing”.
Following these statements Nuttall, who has been under intense pressure from hardliners within the party, pointed the finger at the “political correctness“ of establishment politicians and the failure of Muslim communities, writing that they “must do far more to cut this cancer out of their midst“, and that there should be “no pussyfooting around agonising whether 'Prevent' strategies risk stigmitising people".
Last week UKIP’s former financial donor and Leave.EU founder Arron Banks announced that he had left the party to set up ‘The Patriotic Alliance’, a new populist venture expected to be helmed by Farage. Banks immediately exploited the news of the attack for political expediency, using Twitter to take aim at both Theresa May and “illegals” in the UK despite the fact it has since emerged that the killer was born here.
Yesterday Leave.EU released a statement via Banks’ far right ‘news’ site, Westmonster.com, claiming:
“Theresa May as Home Secretary allowed over a million illegal immigrants to infiltrate our great nation. As prime minister, she has failed to implement the British people’s desire to have secure borders and to be kept safe. She has cut funding for police forces and to border agencies and has overseen unprecedented levels of immigration, failing spectacularly in her attempt to integrate newcomers into our society.”
Leave.EU’s statement ended with the following words: “We are not winning this fight, but with proper, no-nonsense leadership, we will”.
Such a statement serves both to scapegoat migrant communities and effectively positions Banks’ new venture to be the voice that exploits such anger. Such political opportunism is dangerous and frankly unacceptable.
The Far Right
Chief among the rabble-rousers was former EDL leader Stephen Lennon, who quickly appeared at the scene to embark on an Islamophobic tirade. “The reality is these people are waging war on us. This has been going on for 1,400 years and while it’s going on the police leaders and the political leaders want to invite more”.
Lennon, who currently leads the Islamophobic street movement Pegida UK, has made a career of exploiting hostility toward the Muslim community. A video of Lennon’s aggressive rant was quickly published on Rebel Media, a far-right news source founded by Canadian “counter-jihad” figure Ezra Levant. The video, in which far right activist Jack Buckby can be seen close by, has been viewed almost 500,000 times in less than a day.
Meanwhile the the far-right street gang Britain First (BF) released a video in which leader Paul Golding claims “unspeakable horrors are on the horizon” and that “we will be dragged into a bloodthirsty civil war that will devestate our country”. The ex-BNP councillor has led BF to carry out a number of “invasions” of British mosques, and the group gained widespread notoriety when eyewitnesses claimed neo-Nazi Thomas Mair shouted “Britain First” as he carried out the terrorist killing of Labour MP Jo Cox in June last year.
Not to miss an opportunity, Britain First has also called for “all patriots” to march through London on April 1st in order to “protest against radical Islamic terrorism”. While over 1,000 had registered interest on the event page, the group routinely fails to convert online support to actual feet on the ground.
In the days and weeks ahead, we will gain a clearer picture of both the nature of the attack and also the human consequence of the terrible devastation wrought in Westminster yesterday. Thought and support must be offered to the families and friends of those killed and maimed yesterday.
We must also remember that knock on effects will be felt by Muslim and minority communities who are targeted by Islamic extremists and far-right activists alike. As more information emerges we will continue to challenge the forces of division that seek to inflame tensions and capitalise on such a tragedy.
Posted: 23 Mar 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments