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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