Monday, June 27 2016

Muslim organisations report surge in abusive phonecalls and emails after Rochdale convictions

The Guardian last week reported that the conviction of nine men involved in a gang which groomed girls for sex has led to a surge in anti-Muslim abuse, and that the British Muslim community is bracing itself for more “Islamophobic attacks on individual Muslims and mosques across the UK”.

From the Guardian:

“Far-right groups are exploiting the conviction of nine men who were part of a gang that groomed girls for sex to create a "climate of hate" against Muslims, community leaders have warned.

“Muslim groups say they have seen an upsurge in hate mail and abusive phone calls since the trial ended this week and community leaders are bracing themselves for more Islamophobic attacks on individual Muslims and mosques across the UK.

“"We are already receiving hate mail and hate phone calls even though we issued a very strong statement condemning those involved," said a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain. "If it can happen to MCB, you can just imagine what ordinary Muslims are facing as they go about their day-to-day business."

“Eight of the nine men convicted at Liverpool crown court for their involvement in a gang in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, that sexually exploited girls were of Pakistani heritage, and Muslim groups say far-right organisations such as the British National party and the English Defence League (EDL) have used the trial to demonise and abuse the entire community.

“Suleman Nagdi, spokesman for the Leicestershire Federation of Muslim Organisations, who has held talks with EDL representatives in the past, said: "There's a climate of hate in relation to this … We need to tackle the problem, but people within the BNP, the EDL are increasing the rhetoric … It does have an adverse effect within the city … I am sure it will build within the next few weeks."

“The latest surge in Islamophobic abuse comes amid concern that the failure of the BNP in recent elections will see some smaller groups turning to more violent street action. There have been a growing number of attacks on anti-racists and trade unionists as well as rising hostility to Muslims.

“The MCB spokesman said Muslims were used to "low-level hatred". "People expect that nowadays, from their fellow travellers on the underground or buses," he said. "That sort of thing happens all the time."

“But he said communities were preparing themselves for more serious attacks following the publicity surrounding the grooming trial. "The graffiti on the door of a home, mosques and community centres attacked, a pig's head through the door … it is bound to increase because the racist are waiting for opportunities like this."”

The report draws attention to the way that the coverage of the case, and the often irrelevant references to race and religion in coverage and commentary has already had very real consequences for the Muslim community, and that the issue may spiral into something more serious. Indeed, following 9/11 the non-Muslim Asian community has reported that they also suffered an increasing amount of abuse and hostility as a result.

An article by Paul Vallely in the Independent on Sunday highlights the issue of the way the story has been covered and the references that have been made to race and religion, succinctly:

“Spot the odd one out. Jewish politician urged not to insult atheist party leader. Man from all-boys school sends intimate texts to attractive redhead. Straight black man wants same-sex marriage. Pakistani Muslims jailed for sexual assaults on white girls. The first three are ridiculously loaded and leading headlines. The last was a real one.

“You may need some assistance here. Labour's leader Ed Miliband has been advised not to burn his bridges with Nick Clegg in case a Lib-Lab pact is needed after the next election. Our old Etonian Prime Minister has been texting "lots of love" to Rupert Murdoch's henchwoman Rebekah Brooks. Barack Obama has come out in support of gay marriage.

“Nobody nowadays would dream of calling Miliband a "Jewish politician" in that way. So why are the 11 men convicted of sex offences in Rochdale described as "Pakistani Muslims"?

The Independent last week also carried a two-part special report on the Rochdale sex-grooming case. The report cited Alyas Karmani, the recently elected Respect party councillor, Imam and psychologist with 20 years of experience in youth and community work. Karmani states that he “does not accept the idea that Kashmiri culture is somehow more backward and thereby to blame.”

He told the reporter that, "These men – and it's worth stressing that only a very tiny minority have deviated in this way – are not targeting white girls specifically but going for those who are most easily accessible and vulnerable, and that is by definition mainly white girls as young Asian teenagers are within the protection of the home at that time of night.

“Any girl who is unprotected can be targeted. It's not racist; it's opportunistic. They are usually girls from damaged or dysfunctional backgrounds, who are out on the streets at all hours."

Part one of the full Independent report can be read here, and part two can be read here.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 May 2012 10:24

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