In recent months, a number of incidents have drawn attention to the activities of the ‘Church of Yahawashi’, a religious group who have been inciting racial, misogynistic and homophobic violence in fiery street preaching sessions that they record and upload to YouTube.
This morning the group uploaded a video to YouTube of a public event they held in Dalston, East London, which included extreme and violent homophobia:
“We just came out of a restaurant, and there was two f*ggots in there […] we don’t like f*ggots. But some brothers reserve their comment, because they want to be doing the slaying. Really, they want to put a sword to you”
This is by no means the first time the group has publicly engaged in such extreme behaviour. They caused outrage in September of last year by travelling to Stamford Hill to verbally abuse the local Haredi Jewish community. Witnesses reported that they were taunting passersby by calling them “devils” and “abominations” and even telling them to “go back to the ovens”. The videos of these specific encounters were subsequently deleted by YouTube, but their account remains active.
We have been monitoring them for some time, and are disturbed by the levels of violent hatred they espouse and feel now is the time for the authorities to act.
The group are adherents of the Black Hebrew Israelite (BHI) ideology, a broad religious movement that originated in America in the late 19th Century. It holds as its central tenet that the black population of the Americas are the descendants of the Biblical Israelites. This movement incorporates a hugely diverse range of beliefs and practises, and it is important to remember that the majority of these groups are not violent or racist, and not to tarnish all BHI groups with the practises of its most extreme elements.
The Church of Yahawashi’s version of BHI ideology is heavily influenced by the ‘One West Camp’, an umbrella term for groups inspired by the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ, which was founded in Harlem, New York, in the 1970s. The ICGJC has had numerous schisms over the years, and most of the extreme BHI street preaching groups that are a feature of many American cities have their origins in this movement. Some of the ideas and language used are also derived from the Nation of Islam, and particularly its BHI-based splinter group, the Nation of Yahweh. These groups promote the idea that Jewish people are demonic impostors who have stolen the Israelites’ identity, and that white people are irredeemable devils who are destined to be destroyed by God.
Yet even by the standards of the One West movement, the Church of Yahawashi’s racism and violent threats are extreme and shocking. The group displays almost every conceivable form of hatred – homophobia, misogyny, religious bigotry and racism – and much of their preaching is in clear breach of laws against hate speech and incitement to violence.
HOPE not hate can reveal that the group is led by a man named Royce Asante-Mathieson, who goes by the title of ‘Captain Ashan Ban-Yahawadah’. Previously a member of the Great Mill Stone sect, who are also known for being on the extreme end of the BHI spectrum, Ban-Yahawadah was expelled from the group in February of 2018 and appears to have created the Church of Yahawashi shortly after, attracting a group of roughly 20 followers over the past two years.
The group, who have been holding regular preaching sessions in Brixton, Southwark and Dalston for over a year, are obsessed with the idea of an impending judgement day, in which the group members will take vengeance upon the “Edomites”, a biblical term that the they use to refer to white and Jewish people:
“All Edomite faces are going to be turned teary-eyed […] And we’re going to make you wait on the death, we’re going to be playing mind games with you. I’m going to come there with the sword, and just put the sword on the table […] The Edomite will be shitting himself, and I’ll go out for five days, I’ll come back and do the same shit. You have no idea how much mental torture you heathens are gonna be put through”
What makes this group especially worrying is the relish that Ban Yahawadah and his followers take in describing the violence that they plan to inflict on women, homosexuals and all non-believers. Ban Yahawadah holds a particular hatred for women – and especially black women – who he despises for not paying him and his followers sufficient ‘respect’ and refusing their sexual advances:
“All these black bitches [..] they don’t pay no regard for our authority. But we ain’t gonna pay them no regard when the lord gives us the power to start chopping their fucking heads off”
“The women need to start respecting. Because a lot of death and destruction is coming your way […] The woman was created for the man. If I’ve got a pair of Nike trainers, and I want to wear them on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, do I have to ask the trainers if I want to wear it? No. I wear it wherever, whenever, however I want. So if I want to ride that wagon on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, I have a preceptual obligation to do that.”
Most alarmingly, the group appears to believe that this day of judgement is coming imminently, and that the group members themselves will be the ones enacting the violence. They claim to have prophetic dreams and see supernatural omens, such as ‘chariots’ streaking across the sky, as an indication that the “phase two” is beginning, when the group will be “unleashed”:
“Right now, the fishing season is over, so now it’s time for hunting season. The Lord is sending for hunters, and we shall hunt them from every hill. We ain’t doing no running. The Edomites and those that rebel are going to be doing the running. And that’s coming to a city near you. It’s going to be worse than what we did in the Dark Ages. What we did in the Dark Ages is going to be a welfare case compared to what’s coming”
It seems clear that the group’s preaching goes well beyond the limits of acceptable religious expression, and constitutes clear hate speech and incitement to racial and religious hatred.
HOPE not hate believe that this group pose a serious and violent risk and are calling on the police to take action if they are found to have broken the law.
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