Islamophobia Watch was launched in early 2005. On the tenth anniversary of its foundation I have decided that the time has come to wind it up. (The site will remain online but will no longer be updated.)
This is not because the threat of anti-Muslim bigotry and hatred that we set out to challenge ten years ago has receded. On the contrary, as the rise of PEGIDA in Germany and the recent arson attacks on Swedish mosques demonstrate, if anything the situation has grown worse.
The problem is that IW set itself overambitious aims. Reporting examples of Islamophobia from across the western world as well as producing comment and analysis in response to these developments is well beyond the capacity of a one-person blog. I’ve become increasingly frustrated by IW’s inability to perform this role effectively.
There is clearly a need for a properly resourced and preferably Muslim-led organisation to extend and deepen the work Islamophobia Watch has done over the past decade. But the continued existence of IW itself is an obstacle to such an initiative.
In any case, IW’s main function as I saw it was to provide a searchable online database of Islamophobic incidents – over the years I recorded thousands of such cases – for the use of the Muslim community and others involved in the struggle against racism and fascism.
That function of IW was destroyed two years ago when I was excluded from the original islamophobia-watch.com website and had to set up the present site, minus the archives. (In the absence of anyone prepared to put the necessary effort into maintaining and updating it, the original site soon became moribund and was then abandoned.)
I have transferred some of the material from the original site to this one, with the objective of restoring the database, and I intend to persevere with this task, but it will be a long process.
Finally, many thanks to all those who have supported Islamophobia Watch over the past ten years.
Update: The searchable database has now been restored.
The PEGIDA demonstration in Dresden last Monday, in which an estimated 17,500 people protested against immigration and the “Islamisation of the west”, was widely condemned as a shocking example of xenophobia and intolerance that has no place in Germany.
Needless to say, on the British far right PEGIDA has been hailed as an inspiration in the fight to stem the Muslim takeover of Europe. It has certainly renewed the enthusiasm of former English Defence League leader Stephen Lennon (“Tommy Robinson”) for Islamophobic street protests, and he has tweeted his intention to try and emulate PEGIDA’s success when his ban on associating with members of the EDL runs out next July.
Another person to be impressed by PEGIDA’s achievements is Helen Hims, who is chair of the Wells branch of UKIP and vice-chair of the party in Somerset. She retweeted a number of approving comments on Monday’s demonstration (“German anti muslim protestors demand an end to Islamisation with record high turnout”, “Growing Anti Muslim marches in Germany….Excellent!”) earlier this week, including one from Lennon himself (“Germany is waking up, are we?”)
Christine Tasin is co-leader with Pierre Cassen of the far-right Islamophobic campaign group Riposte Laïque and its front organisation Résistance Républicaine.
Cassen and another Riposte Laïque activist were found guilty of inciting hatred against Muslims in 2012, and earlier year Tasin herself was convicted on the same charge, receiving a 3-month suspended prison sentence and a €3000 fine.
Regrettably, on 18 December Tasin won her appeal against that conviction. According to Breitbart London, her legal costs were covered by Daniel Pipes. They report Tasin as saying:
“Last Thursday was a great day for freedom of expression in France. I said, in Belfort, in 2013, before the mobile Eid abattoir that ‘Islam is sh*t’ to Muslims who had recognized me and attacking me because I claim my Islamophobia.
“I was sentenced to a fine of €3,000 including €1,500 suspended after the Belfort court considered that I had incited hatred against Muslims. The court in Besançon has now acknowledged that one has the right to express opinions and I did not encourage hatred against Muslims, and I can think and say that Islam is a threat to France, that it is a freedom of expression.
“The Resistance to Islam and all those who, in France, fear that freedom of expression is disappearing, and that blasphemy has become a crime again are relieved”.
The English Defence League’s Isle of Wight organiser Carl Worrall was up in front of magistrates yesterday for sentencing, having pleaded guilty to one count of harassment and one count of racially or religiously aggravated harassment.
According to police, the charges arose from incidents at a coffee shop in Newport on 27 October and 1 November. From Worrall’s account, this would appear to be the branch of Costa Coffee in St James Square.
As MEND points out, the 1 November incident evidently followed an EDL protest outside HM Prison Isle of Wight. This was provoked by the leaking of an internal bulletin from the National Offender Management Service, which reported that a prisoner who had recently converted to Islam had been found with a homemade ISIS flag and “detailed escape plans involving taking a member of staff hostage”.
Based on a shock-horror account in the Sunday People, the EDL claimed that the prisoner had “planned to behead a guard” – a piece of scaremongering that even the Daily Mail refused to swallow, reporting instead that it was thought the plan was “an attempt to escape, rather than to harm”.
The photo above is of Carl Worrall at the EDL protest outside the prison. Looking on is Dave Bolton of the national EDL, which shows that this was an officially endorsed event, not just some local initiative.
A man who attacked the Respect MP George Galloway in a London street has been jailed for 16 months.
Drug addict Neil Masterson, 39, left the pro-Palestine MP for Bradford West with cuts and bruises to his head and ribs and requiring hospital treatment after the frenzied assault in Notting Hill in August.
Masterson, who was wearing a pink t-shirt with an Israeli Defence Force logo when he was arrested nearby, told police he felt “morally justified” in attacking the MP because he was a “Nazi” with a “shameful” attitude towards Jews, Isleworth Crown Court heard.
Galloway, the court heard, believes he would have been killed if Masterson, who had “recently undergone a conversion towards Judaism”, had been armed with a knife during their chance meeting.
Masterson, of Kensington, who used to work for the Department of Work and Pensions and as a manager at the BBC, had previously admitted assaulting Mr Galloway and a second charge of common assault against a man who had been posing for a picture with the MP as the attack happened.
Judge Aidan Marron QC told the clean-shaven and smartly suited Masterson: “While you are no longer facing a charge of religiously aggravated assault, it would be unreal to ignore that the motivation for this … was your profound hostility to Mr Galloway’s views.”
He added that Masterson’s “loathing” of Galloway was manifested by what he did at the start of the assault and said afterwards in interviews.
Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen abuses worshippers outside Gillingham mosque last month
It is of course the case that the mainstream right-wing press has played a major role in whipping up the atmosphere of Islamophobia that has allowed far-right anti-Muslim hate-groups to flourish. Nevertheless, yesterday’s Sun featured a very effective exposé of Britain First. You can read it here.
The report is based on an interview with Matthew Lester, the former BF member who to his credit recently broke with the organisation and visited a mosque in Crayford that had previously been the victim of BF harassment in order to apologise.
Matthew Lester’s message is clear – Britain First is a would-be paramilitary organisation that represents a significant threat to community cohesion and “has to be stopped”.
This is the latest in our occasional series of misleading far-right Facebook memes (see also here and here). It was posted yesterday on the English Defence League’s Facebook page, with the evident aim of inciting fury among EDL supporters about the supposed Muslim takeover of the UK.
In that regard it was highly successful. Here are the comments the post provoked.
They range from anti-migrant rhetoric (“Enoch Powell was right about immigration. Look what has become of Britain”), through crude racist abuse (“look at the smelly rag head wearing scum bags”, “Disgusting Muzzrats”, “Packie twats”), to open calls for violence (“Crush the Muslim religion! Burn them!”, “Filthy sand monkeys need a bomb placing in the middle of them!!”, “Me+gun+plenty of bullets= problem solved”).
We recently remarked, in connection with the New Daily Patriot falsely attributing a quote to Zakir Naik, on how the far right happily post and repost transparently fake Islamophobic propaganda without making the slightest attempt to check its accuracy.
Here is another recent example, from Britain First’s Facebook page. It quotes Marco Polo as stating that “the militant Muslim is the person who beheads the infidel, while the moderate Muslim holds the feet of the victim”. As you can see, it has proved quite popular, having been shared nearly 1,800 times.
A member of Ukip has been kicked out of the party after attending a rally organised by the far right group Britain First, according to reports.
Ukip member Malcolm Jackson [pictured] said he has received a letter from the party saying his membership had been rescinded because of his “connections to Britain First” after attending their 15 November protest rally against a Mega Mosque planned for construction in Rochester.
[The new mosque will hold no more than 400 worshippers, which falls some way short of “mega”, and the site is in Gillingham.]
Jackson said he is not affiliated with Britain First – which describes itself as “probably the only group experiencing growth on the far right” – and was only marching with them to protest against the “evil cult of Islam taking over yet another part of our country”.
He said: “I have no connections with Britain First. I am not a member of any political organisation apart from Ukip, and I am not a member of Britain First. All I have done is take part, last Saturday 15 Nov 2014, in a march organised by Britain First, to demonstrate against a Mega Mosque being built on the borders of Rochester and Gillingham.”
He added: “If I had been with the crowd of left-wing thugs opposing the march against the Mega Mosque, would Ukip have made the decision to rescind my membership?”
Ukip have tried to distance themselves from Britain First ever since three of its members were photographed with the deputy leader of the party, Jayda Fransen, while both groups were campaigning in Rochester ahead of the upcoming by-election.
A measure of the irrationality and hysteria of Islamophobes is their readiness to accept even the most ludicrous anti-Muslim story as genuine, when just a moment’s intelligent thought would lead to the conclusion that it is obvious nonsense.
As long as it fits with their own mindless prejudices, right-wing extremists happily post and repost transparently false Islamophobic propaganda on social media without the slightest attempt to check whether it has any basis in fact.
Here, for example, is a recent post from the popular far-right Facebook page, the New Daily Patriot.
Predictably, this provoked the usual outburst of abuse and threats, not just against Dr Naik but against the entire Muslim community, ranging from “fuck off to your flat planet then cause you lot are fucking not human and how long do you fuckers think we are going to put up with your bullshit”, to “shoot the cunts” and “can’t we just kill them all”.